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Reading architecture: Re-drawing the line between consumption and learning

Carless, Tonia


Tonia Carless
Senior Lecturer in Architecture


Brian Dougan

Kevin Mitchell

Greg Watson


This paper examines a pedagogic approach to architecture that re-instates the primacy of drawing as a site for examining the compliance of architecture with commodity form. It analyses a critical pedagogy that has emerged under the increasing commodification of both architectural practice and architectural education. Reading architecture is a concept that is about understanding that pedagogy is a process of educating rather than producing things (products)
and, as such it attempts to mark out distinct territory between the two processes.

The approach encourages students and academics to value the surface of the drawings as a space across which to develop an architectural discourse. Representation (making an architectural drawing) here questions the ideology of consumption.

The point at which the digital meets analogue in architectural drawing also becomes a critical frame and it is used to unsettle the hegemonic discourses, to reveal ideological form and to restore connections between the soio-political and commodity form as a historical materialism. Architecture is drawn as complex, multi-faceted practice(s), making space. The trans-disciplinary inherent in Lefebvre’s Production of Space, of the every day, not just abstract space, is examined at the precise point between digital and analogue drawing.

The placing of value on the architectural drawing rather than architectural form attempts to recognise the required productivity of neo liberal architectural education (both its subjects and objects) and invert this to focus upon seemingly unproductive (design) space. The analogue/digital space is not conceived of as smooth, universal and accrued but rather analogue versus digital, as one of contradictory knowledge, of conflict, tension and potential resistance.

One project and series of drawings considers an architectural drawing made in 1964 between the painter Mark Rothko and the architect Philip Johnson and enters that discourse at the point of producing the drawing. The design work considers how the architect arranges space to suit geometric, functional or other client demands and how the socio political or historical frame might be excluded in this process. The student is encouraged to rethink these dimensions. The question is also asked: Where are these social dimensions in the model? Where are they in the digital frame? The method in this instance considers inverting media, to use antithetical or seemingly inconsistent methods or processes at odds with usual crafting, such as the painting of the plan (oil on trace) and its reciprocal, digitising of the painting (digital print) in order to define and examine the conflicting knowledges (as a point of education) established between and across media.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Process and Practice Across Design Disciplines PPADD 2018 AUS
Start Date Feb 14, 2018
End Date Feb 17, 2018
Acceptance Date Jan 2, 2018
Publication Date Jan 1, 2018
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 61-66
Keywords pedagogy, drawing, commodification, representation, space
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Processes and Practices Across Design Disciplines PPADD 2018 AUS