The ability to sketch an idea is a timeless conceit in architecture. The best sketches amplify initial thoughts about a concept, while capturing and communicating thinking with clarity.
In 1922, Mies Van der Rohe sketched his “Glass Skyscraper, Project, Elevation Study”. The bold power of his original image hints at ideas that would emerge throughout his career. Simple charcoal marks, in a context, represent Mies’ vision of a specific architecture.
The images that follow are a foray into a new type of architectural sketching. Through my ongoing exploration of iPhoneography and conversations about architectural representation with Pico|Little Architecture designer Andrea Panico, I began to explore the ways that traditional architectural communication could be translated to a new media.
Carbon Copy, borrowing a conceit from Bertjan Pot’s study of the Eames fiberglass DSR chair, is a sketch using contextual marks or “samples” as the starting point. The image conveys an architectural concept with mobile technologies. The initial sketch was a carbon copy in the literal sense; a copy of a charcoal image, quickly cut and pasted while glancing at the original image.
A Proposal for a Wood Skyscraper emerged from this study. “Bennachie Tower” proposes a personal vision of a wood and glass tower, using the same techniques that yielded Carbon Copy. Both images are hybrid photograph, drawing and collage.
Bennachie Tower, utilizes a photographic “sample” of Scotland’s Bennachie Forest from artist Kathryn Brown. Bennachie Forest criticizes the traditional skyscraper renderings (often showing trees growing from setbacks and other improbable details) which were flooding the media at that time. The image suggests a provocative use of context, detail, and technology to create a sketch, and ultimately, the concept of using a mobile device as a sketchbook. The result is a collage of pixels: each replicating charcoal, context, detail, and true “context”. These collaged pixels are applied as marks, indicative of specific architectural context.
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I was compelled to share these studies on Speaking of Architecture after a visit to the Museum of Modern Art this summer. “Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City” is a small but powerful show that examines “early uses of collage to trace its evolution as both an aesthetic technique central to architectural representation and a cultural practice of layering, juxtaposition, and remix that configures the city.” The exhibit was curated by MoMA’s Pedro Gadanho and assistant Phoebe Springstubb. Don’t miss this exhibit! It runs through December 10, 2013.