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Architectures of Drawing: critical drawing as spatial practice

Banou, Sophia



Architectural drawing relies on long lasting traditions of projective abstraction. Often compared to such analogical processes of thinking as translation from drawing to building (Evans), these conventions define rules for constructing but also for further performing the drawing that can build on this analogical attachment to architecture. This paper will discuss two drawing exercises that propose architectural drawing conventions as ways of developing critical and creative thinking. These are based on the understanding of drawing as a projective spatial practice whereby processes of writing and reading drawing rely equally on external references and responses to the interior, material and syntactical structures that the drawing produces (Banou 2015). Drawing from precedents situated across diverse modes of artistic production, from El Lissitzky’s Proun drawings to contemporary spatial drawing practices (Grzymala), these exercises invite a more explicit understanding of the ‘space of representation’ on architectural terms (Banou 2019), as an expanded mediating field for critical thinking within the design and creative process.

The first exercise comes from Building Drawing, a workshop (ECA 2018) addressing a diverse cohort across students of architecture, design and Fine Art. A collaboration with Richard Collins, the workshop combined digital and analogue modes of fabrication to introduce participants to the ways that means and sites of fabrication inform drawing in art and architecture. Participants reinterpreted and constructed pre-existing drawings into three-dimensional artefacts that uncovered the inherent spatial tectonics entailed in acts of representation. The second exercise comes from Bristol Rising, an architectural design studio carried out at UWE Bristol with Matthew Hynam (2019). There, students developed site surveys by alternating between surface drawings and three-dimensional representational objects through an iterative process of exchange between surface and space. In both cases it was linearity and parallel projection, the two key architectural drawing conventions, that allowed this. Rather than fixing the drawing’s dynamic performative space, this material expansions pursued its possible multiplication through the provisional projections that the three-dimensional experience allows. These spatial drawings propose not only alternative modes of drawing that sit within a longer tradition of cultural production, but also tools for critical exploration in creative thinking and practice.

Evans, Robin, ‘Translations from Drawing to Building’, in Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays (London: Architectural Association, 1997), pp. 153-193.
Grzymala, Monika, Drawing Spatially (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017).
Banou, Sophia, ‘Deep Surface: On the situation of drawing’, Inflection 2: Projection (2015), pp. 76-83.
Banou, Sophia, ‘Installation/Drawing: Spaces of representation between art and architecture’, in Kelly Chorpening and Rebecca Fortnum (eds.), A Companion to Contemporary Drawing (London: Wiley Blackwells, 2019).


Banou, S. (2019, November). Architectures of Drawing: critical drawing as spatial practice. Paper presented at UWE Drawing Research Symposium, Arnolfini, Bristol

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name UWE Drawing Research Symposium
Start Date Nov 8, 2019
End Date Nov 8, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 11, 2019
Keywords architectural drawing, drawing conventions, installation, drawing workshop, architectural design studio, design research, architectural design, creative thinking, critical thinking
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