Does it seem funny to look at a flat exhibit about volumetric design? Architects do make physical three-dimensional models, but most of the ways we represent objects and buildings are by drawing in two dimensions. Because doing this is often complicated, we have conventions common in school and practice. These techniques not only help us explain our work to others, but also help us understand them as we design.
Architects typically do two kinds of drawing sets: presentation drawings, to show the idea of the project to get people excited about it, and construction drawings, to communicate precise locations and materials to whoever will build it. Presentation drawings aren't intended to be "realistic" — they're meant to convey the drama, beauty, or concepts within the work. Construction drawings show more information, often in detail or list form, to explain exactly what needs to be done to realize the project. In either case, however, students first must learn that every line they draw, whether by hand or the computer, means something; for example, it may represent a wall, a change in material, a drop in the floor, or even something implied hanging overhead.
Architects use five basic drawing types in their work:
• a plan is made by taking a horizontal slice through a building about 4 feet from the ground, removing the top half and looking straight down.
• a section is made by taking a vertical slice through a building, removing half of it and looking straight in.
• an elevation is made by looking straight at the side of a building.
• a perspective is a view of a building, whether from the inside or out, where things gets smaller the farther away they are from the eye.
• an isometric or axonometric is a three-dimensional view of a building without perspective distortion due to distance.
Generally, architecture students learn how to do presentation drawings in school and construction drawings during their internship in an office. However, design-build, building systems, and professional practice courses often do familiarize students with the latter.
Check out the following drawings done by architecture students to see how they express their work...
Image 1 > A cultural institution dedicated to the elevation of philosophical discourse in the social realm.
Image 2 > Saadiyat Gateway tower.
Image 3 & 4 > A proposal for a portion of the cleared area above the Capitol Hill Light Rail station, next to Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, Washington. This design includes one of the station entries and a community center.
Image 5 > An Institute of Film History and Studies dedicated to Sergei Eisenstein, St. Petersburg, Russia.