If you are an architect or architecture student, and have always being worried about your poor sketching skills, this post is about you, and me.

I have always wondered “Do architects really need to be good at sketching, to become a ‘good’ architect?” Again, it is debatable and subjective, what ‘good sketching’ means. I think, architectural sketching is way different from ‘fine-arts’ sketching. And, that is the reason it shall not be taught as fine-arts sketching.

Look at the following sketch by Frank Gehry, published in the book; Gehry Draws by MIT Press

Architectural Sketching

I am sure, except Gehry nobody else would be able to make out what the sketch means. I have tried showing this sketch to many students and have asked them “What do they see in this sketch?” And of course I receive all sorts of answers ranging from “shoes” to “Bath tub”.

One can go on and on with examples.

Essentially architecture students have to deal with three type of sketches:

1. Sketches by observation: The ability to draw the sketch of a building, product or object by looking at it.

2. Memory Drawing: The ability to draw from memory. The subject has been seen / viewed / experienced in past.

3. Visualisation: This is most important and more and more effort in my view shall be put in this area. The ability of drawing something which is going to exist in future, something which has been conceived in designer’s mind or sketching of an idea which till now did not exist.

In schools, more stress is being given to observation drawing. I do not deny the essence of it, rather to be able to draw one must start with observation drawing. What I don’t agree to is the process of learning sketching stopping there itself. Eventually more and more emphasis shall be given to memory drawing and drawing by visualization, as architects have to spend their lives sketching something that doesn’t exist.

I have thought of a simple exercise for second year students:

Draw a view of a room which contains: a study table, a chair besides it, a book shelf, a window, pen stand, laptop /computer, ceiling fan and a two seat-er sofa.

Objects in above exercise may vary but one learns not only to draw lines of all sorts but also to draw different objects in proportion to each other.

OR, the submission of first three designs shall only be in the form of sketches and no scale drawings.

What do you think. Let me know.

[This is draft post, changes would be made to language and formatting but the subject will remain same.]