Why Architects Still Draw

By Paolo Belardi and Zachary Nowak

  • Genre : Architecture
  • Publisher :
  • ISBN : 9780262525480
  • Year : 2014
  • Language: English


Why Architects Still Draw Why Architects Still Draw Two Lectures on Architectural Drawing Paolo Belardi translated by Zachary Nowak THE MIT PRESS CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS LONDON ENGLAND 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology These essays were originally published in Italian by Casa Editrice Libr a Melfi as two separate volumes Brouillons d Architects una lezione sul disegno inventivo 2004 and Nulla dies sine linea una lezione sul disegno conoscitivo 2012 All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means including photocopying recording or information storage and retrieval without permission in writing from the publisher MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use For information please email special sales mitpress mit edu This book was set in Utopia Std and Helvetica Neue Pro by the MIT Press Printed and bound in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Belardi Paolo author Essays Selections English Why architects still draw by Paolo Belardi translated by Zachary Nowak p cm Essays in English translated from the Italian Includes bibliographical references and index ISBN 978-0-262-52548-0 pbk alk paper 1 Architectural drawing 2 Architectural design 3 Drawing Philosophy 4 Architecture Philosophy I Nowak Zachary translator II Belardi Paolo Brouillons d architects English III Belardi Paolo Nulla dies sine linea English IV Title V Title Thinking by hand VI Title No day without a line NA2700 B428 2014 720 28 4 dc23 2013018084 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 A Federica e Angelica Contents Translator s Note Why Disegno and Rilievo in Italian Mean Something More than Drawing and Survey in English Introduction Why Architects Still Draw ix xv Thinking by Hand A Lecture on Inventive Drawing 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Praising the Pencil 1 Writing Is Just Drawing 5 Find First Seek Later 8 Ideas Are in the Air 13 The Mind Rules over the Hand Hand Rules over Mind 20 Sketches Are the dna of an Idea 24 Draw Antonio Draw 34 No Day Without a Line A Lecture on Informed Drawing 1 The Augmented Sensitivity of the Architectural Surveyor 2 The Eyes Are Blind to the Unexpected 3 X width exploration 4 Y height stratification 5 Z depth interpretation 6 Does a Forest Give Up Its Secret if You Measure the Height of the Trees Index 41 45 58 70 82 95 111 Translator s Note Why Disegno and Rilievo in Italian Mean Something More than Drawing and Survey in English As often happens in shifting between two languages the words that seem the easiest to translate are often the hardest ones to find an adequate translation for In this book architectpoet Paolo Belardi makes a passionate case for why architects should continue to draw and make surveys The book takes the form of two imaginary lectures to architecture students The first lecture is about drawings the second about surveys Though both words are only seven letters long in Italian they were exceedingly difficult to translate and a word about both is necessary In the first lecture Thinking by Hand Belardi discusses what he calls disegno This word would make anyone who doesn t know Italian think design which is unfortunately wrong It s an example of what translators call false friends foreign words that look like English words but mean something else Disegno in Italian means a drawing or a sketch not design Despite this linguistic fact Belardi argues that the two words should indeed be considered cousins if not fraternal twins The drawing argues Belardi recalls the paradox of the acorn An acorn gives us just the barest outlines of the tree our grandchildren might see We can imagine the shape of its leaves and the color of its bark but all the other possibilities of that future oak tree how fast it grows how its branches spread how long it lives are to be determined And yet that little nut T r a n s l ato r s N ot e x holds inside of its shell the whole tree already the mature magnificent hundred-foot-tall oak is already planned within the acorn s DNA So too with a drawing Even a sketch done on the back of a matchbox to give a preview of one of Belardi s examples can contain what will become the complete set of blueprints of the finished building Despite its size a matchbox in this case the imprecision of its strokes given the awkward surface and its impermanence most sketches are considered preparatory by their authors and not saved the sketch is like an acorn The roughest drawing is inchoate in the sense that it is not finished but still in evolution and forgiving of future changes and yet at the same time it is also paradoxically the entire final design Belardi s first lecture then is about the magic of drawing The author gives us examples not only from architecture but also from literature chemistry music archaeology art and several other disciplines to show how drawing is not simply a passive act but rather a moment of invention pregnant with creative possibilities The second lecture No Day Without a Line is about what in Italian is called a rilievo architettonico The most obvious translation for the first word is survey and any English speaker can then shift architettonico before the noun leaving her with architectural survey At one time or another all of us have likely seen what architects work with every day the three canonic architectural views of some building made of white stone plan section and elevation These representations apparently the output of an enormous slice-and-draw T r a n s l ato r s N ot e machine give us measurements in the x y and z axes Belardi argues that it s important especially in today s world to add a fourth dimension time and even a fifth one culture A rilievo architettonico is the architectural equivalent of what anthropologist Clifford Geertz called a thick description an ethnographic approach in which the resulting text describes a group s ceremonies not only as they would understand them but as even those unfamiliar with the group could understand them Belardi in No Day Without a Line shows how surveying a piazza cannot simply mean measuring the space and committing its width height and depth to paper or to an AutoCAD file To truly know the piazza the architectural surveyor must make an informed survey must bring knowledge with him How are the entrances to the open space the result of traffic patterns from centuries past How can changing demographics and concern for environmental impacts shape the future of the piazza What does Italian culture need from the piazza A survey then becomes a document that relates historical details and communal needs not just meters or feet stone or steel As much as the architectural survey of the Italian tradition draws on the past and as much as Belardi pleads the case of the pencil s relevance in the era of the 3D scanner and the GPS device this is not a Luddite tract Belardi does not want us to give up high tech for watercolors or a measuring tape and he s cognizant of the fact that any such plea would be in vain Instead continuing a tradition started with the guerrilla surveyors who so infuriated the architectural establishment in T r a n s l ato r s N ot e xi xii the 1970s when they surveyed Las Vegas s Strip with cameras and microphones he warns us that we cannot be stuck in the past We have to be sure that technology is the vehicle of architectural progress toward the future and that we are the drivers The power and precision of modern instruments push us to reduce a survey to taking precise measurements when in fact and Belardi surprises the reader with his eminently logical examples metric precision is not the most important variable in a survey In addition this book calls architects to task for their perennial obsession with canonical monuments of the past and with the same few signature glass-and-steel buildings that appear over and over in the pages of glossy magazines Belardi argues that architectural surveys can no longer be concerned only with National Theaters Capitol Buildings and other Monumental Places when the real problems to be solved are not the millionth elevation of the Coliseum but rather the banlieues in Paris or Rome s borgate the decaying outlying areas of the world s metropolises The fourth and fifth dimensions history and culture that Italian architectural surveys have always included are not only relevant to today s architecture they are necessary This book is about two words and what they mean not in the sense of what their translations are but rather what larger ideas they signify Paolo Belardi patiently lays out his arguments that disegno drawing means more than tracing lines on a piece of paper and that rilievo surveying means more than cross-sections and elevations Disegno drawing means being T r a n s l ato r s N ot e open to all the possibilities that a pencil has concentrated in its tip thousands of brainstorms calmed and distilled into a fraction of an ounce of graphite Rilievo surveying on the other hand means an informed architecture that draws on the traditions of centuries ago and the cultural realities of the present to move architecture out of coffee table books and into the lives of those who live and work in unautographed buildings every day That is what these two words have meant in the past and what they still mean in the present Belardi argues that only thinking by hand with disegno and using all five dimensions of the rilievo can make the word architecture mean something in the future For illustrations of the buildings and places discussed in this book please visit http pinterest com whyarchitects T r a n s l ato r s N ot e xiii Introduction Why Architects Still Draw In his Life of Paolo Uccello written in 1550 Giorgio Vasari tells us that the artist would stay in his study until late at night seeking to solve the problems of perspective Even when his wife would call him to come to bed he would continue to draw whispering in ecstasy Oh what a sweet thing is this perspective Whether it s actually true or not this anecdote has taken its place in the annals of history because of Vasari s approval of Uccello s late-night practice he ends his biography of Uccello saying that it was thanks to the artist s sleepless nights that the art of prospective became dear and useful to those who exercised themselves therein after his time from Piero della Francesca to Leonardo da Vinci thus permanently linking the study and practice of drawing with the idea of devotion Perhaps it s precisely to demonstrate this connection that after thirty years of teaching and research I m now developing a network of trusted collaborators with whom to share and exchange views on the future of drawing though without the presumption of having the last word With my colleagues and students in mind I ve written two imaginary lectures which in reality I ve never delivered though they draw on courses I have taught at the University of Perugia Why do architects still draw These lectures are a sort of didactic canvas on which I ve spread both my passion and knowledge to try to answer this question in a meaningful way The first lecture is for students of an imagined course called Automatic Drawing and it poses questions about the fate of W h y A r c h i t e c t s S t i l l D r aw xvi drawing by hand in the age of electronic media and especially about the role of sketching as an interface between thought and work in the initial phase of a project The second lecture is for students in another made-up course Architectural Survey There I ve explored the meaning of measurement in the era of the 3D scanner and the GPS device trying to show the sterility of techniques that privilege metric exactitude over cultural appropriateness I don t know whether the references I ve used here are pertinent or the rhetorical organization is orthodox I do know however that my aim in both lectures is not in vain that even in the digital age drawing will maintain its role as a cornerstone of architecture reaching an even more privileged position as a way of thinking in both the creative and the informed act It is not by chance that this text while peppered with quotes and iconographic allusions doesn t have many footnotes or more importantly any images This strategy was chosen deliberately to emulate the evocative tone of those old cliffhangers that relied on the reader s imagination to conjure up vivid pictures of the characters and to embellish the narratives I care about the fate of drawing-as-thought and I m disturbed by writing in which the futility of expression drives readers to immediately seek solace in something besides the text As time passes and I see more and more writing of this kind I am reminded of William Wordsworth s admonition Avaunt this vile abuse of pictured page Must eyes be all in all the tongue and ear Nothing Heaven keep us from a lower stage Introduction Thinking by Hand A Lecture on Inventive Drawing 1 Praising the Pencil I would be lying if I said that all these poems were written with a pencil But I dare and love to think that nobody will want to see this title for my poems Poems Written with a Pencil as bizarre and useless They really deserved to be and to stay written in pencil if nothing else the gray of the thin pencil would have given them a color and an expression Marino Moretti1 Paging through the notebooks kept by Tomaso Buzzi to direct the workers at the construction site of Buzzinda the mysterious postmodern city erected inside the Franciscan convent of Scarzuola halfway between Rome and Florence is like tracing the inventive act in the process of being born These notebooks contain page after page of the most bizarre figures taking shape first drafted then reworked and in the end sketched in a final notebook but still provisional The Sketches and Doodles as Buzzi affectionately called his notebooks are sometimes dark sometimes hard to comprehend almost magical much like Cinderella s magic pumpkin these sketches become real live blueprints destined for translation into structure This has been and remains the power of inventive drawing to condense in a few square inches or even less a lot of information and infinite possibilities With what words O Writer will you describe with like perfection the entire configuration which the drawing here does asks Leonardo da Vinci tendentiously accentuating the rivalry between pen and pencil 1 Marino Moretti Poesie scritte col lapis Naples Ricciardi 2010 1

Author Paolo Belardi and Zachary Nowak Isbn 9780262525480 File size 3 3 MB Year 2014 Pages 136 Language English File format PDF Category Architecture Why would an architect reach for a pencil when drawing software and AutoCAD are a click away Use a ruler when 3D scanners and GPS devices are close at hand In Why Architects Still Draw Paolo Belardi offers an elegant and ardent defense of drawing by hand as a way of thinking Belardi is no Luddite he doesn t urge architects to give up digital