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ABSTRACT In the ever changing digital world, we have seem many forms of creative thinking become digitalised. Although, many profound architects and architecture tutors encourage young students to include drawing as part of their design process, the medium is barely hanging on with the future generations. Thus, my dissertation explores the potential of thinking through drawing for creativity. I argue that drawing, not unlike speaking or writing, is a natural thinking process, and can be better understood by applying psychological theories of embodied cognition and ‘dual process’ of emergent thinking: which consider the body as peripheral to understanding the nature of our cognition; moreover, demonstrating the separation between the spontaneous and deliberate actions, creative and rationale thought. I examine the drawing hand as a vehicle which allows for the flexibility of thought and possibility to make full use of our creative potential. In order to concretise the nature of drawing in the conception of architecture, this dissertation expands on the theoretical background to analyse process and practice of the medium. As drawing is a vehicle of thought, not a thought itself, merely forcing pen on paper will not solve the problem. One must start using the tools, use them often and let your mind relax during the activity. The aim is not to produce beautiful pieces of art, but rather, discover and learn along the process.


Acknowledgements I would like to express my gratitude to those who have helped me make this dissertation possible. I want to thank my supervisor David Vila Domini for your cooperation and advice you given me throughout my research. I would like to thank Penny Lewis, Richard Laing and David McClean for providing guidance and literature suggestions at the beginning of my research. I want to also thank my studio tutors, David Vardy and Alan Dunlop, for providing an environment which influenced my dissertation topic. Special thanks to my friends and colleagues for supporting me through the process and providing suggestions. Finally, thank you to my parents who listened to my ideas and were always happy to help.


CONTENTS Introduction 1 Research Methodology

07 11

2 Thinking Behind Drawing Why ‘embodied cognition’ theories are relevant to thinking through drawing.


Flexible Thinking


Thinking Vehicles


Thinking Hand


3 The Process of Drawing Ideation


Drawing in Order to See

25 28

Relevance of Skill

4 Case Study: Le Corbusier’s Drawing Practice Introduction


Thoughtful Observation


Thinking Through Drawing


5 Conclusion References/Bibliography

47 50



INTRODUCTION From a cultural perspective, drawing used to play a major, if not the most dominant role in the conception of architecture. The fast paced technology era has seen many forms of creative thinking become digitalised. The act of traditional drawing, pen on paper, is scarcely hanging on in the world of architecture. With the pressure on the new generation of architects to be merely focused on computer modelling, the practice of drawing as means for creative thinking is becoming more and more neglected. As architecture moves further away from traditions of sketching, are we losing the ability to fully realise our ideas? “We depend on computers when we ourselves haven’t mastered the principles behind what we are asking computers to design.” Glenn Murcutt (2002 p.16). Why do architects draw? How do we think during the act of drawing? Prior to putting ink on paper, do we have a preconception of what we are about to draw, or is the process of drawing a type of internal conversation, a way to observe the existing and flesh out the unknown with marks on paper? This dissertation is my account of how I considered these questions in order to understand the activity of drawing and its importance for creative thinking during the conception of architectural ideas. By investigating the relationship between drawing and thinking, mind and body, we can understand the potential of the activity and see drawing - not unlike speaking or writing – as a natural vehicle of thoughts. I did not start of knowing that I will be dealing with these ideas. The questions which motivated my dissertation were the ones I asked myself as an architecture student. With my studio tutors


and many renowned architects around the world stressing the importance of drawing to the creative thinking in architecture, it fuelled my ambition to understand what makes drawing such an important tool and why we shouldn’t let it die in the digital generation. It would be very foolish to deny the benefits of the computer, the technology has completely changed the architectural profession and allowed for countless possibilities. Linear, hard-edged and precise drawings are thought to be an outcome of predetermined cognitive processes (Rawson cited in Cain 2010), these type of drawings have been completely replaced by computer aided drafting, as they exceed in efficiency and analysis opposed to hand rendering (Pallasmaa 2009). Thus, my argument is not against the machine, but rather, for the need to recognise the potential of drawing for architects’ creative thinking during the delicate and vulnerable early stages of the design process where the essence of the building is conceived. As a result, I focused my research on the question of why, rather than how, of drawing. Perusing the idea of thinking within the medium rather than using drawing as graphical representation of fully formed ideas.

Fig 0.1 - Thinking through drawing focusing my research on the concept of creative thinking emerging through the process of putting marks on paper.


In chapter 1 I outline my methodology and how I decided to tackle the research for thinking through drawing. With my aim to understand why drawing is important to creative thinking, within chapter 2 I introduce and examine psychological theories of human cognition in order to understand the thinking behind drawing. In chapter 3 I investigate the processes of drawing and how the activity may influence person’s creative thinking. To concretise my research in the practice of architecture, in chapter 4 I examine Le Corbusier’s process of thinking through drawing and how it influenced his design work. Studying his use of the medium as a means to capture the existing, explore the new and convey the possible. In chapter 5 I conclude my investigation.





“If you start with a project, you’ll find that you spend time seeking a theoretical framework to ‘explain’ the work. Theoretical work should address the same problem as practice, not attempt to explain or justify decisions made about the work. Unless you do this, you’ll find that your theory’ will be doomed to lack any literal coherence, as having been doomed to ‘explain’ your practice it clusters around the work rather than working through the work with any rigour.” Mark Palmer (cited in Cain 2010 p.37). Although I wasn’t able to coherently describe it at the beginning of my investigation, a key part which heightened my interest in the topic was the challenge of finding out how these questions could be answered. The main goal from the start was to bring the research to meaningful conclusion of what occurred in real life practice, because approaching drawing as an activity which wasn’t transferable to the design process in architecture wouldn’t necessarily provide a better understanding of why it’s used. It became apparent that I would need some theoretical groundwork on drawing as a thinking process. Thus, creating a basis for further investigation to take place of how the activity of drawing can influence design thinking in architecture. Prior to starting my investigation, I was exposed to Daniel Kahneman’s ideas of ‘thinking fast and slow’, a theory to describe human cognition. As I began my research, I gradually made more connections between the ‘dual process’ concept of emergent thinking and what I was doing, as well as what others were experiencing, during the activity of drawing. The investigation of human cognition took me further than simply thinking within


the medium, and consider drawing process as the means for discovery of thoughts through action. By exposing myself to these propositions, I started to question what knowledge is and how we can utilise our creative capacity through the act of drawing. I refer to architects and many other professionals in the creative fields to investigate the notion that thinking might not just involve the human head, but our whole body. Thus, examining the experience of others in order to understand the true nature of our own work in architecture, as Pallasmaa claims: “all arts arise from a common soil; they are all expressions of the human existential condition” (2009 p.22). Furthermore, I had initially came across the book ‘Voyage Le Corbusier: Drawing on the Road’ (Brillhart 2016) during an early point of investigation whilst considering the drawing as the means for architecture. It wasn’t until later on in my investigation when the connection between his travel drawing, design work and the notion of embodied knowledge had become evident; that Le Corbusier’s poetic process of eye, hand, paper and pencil developed into relevant argument, not only as legacy of his masterful work, but as an important study of thinking through drawing. The study looks at his architectural journey and how the process influenced his design thinking. Through analysis of his sketches we can see how Le Corbusier utilised drawing as a medium for thoughtful observations, learning and his thinking during conception of architecture. The study of his creative process expresses the relationship between drawing and thinking; moreover, it asserts the importance of the activity in the conception of his work.


Fig 1.1 - The narrative of concepts and theories which underlie my research structure.




THE THINKING BEHIND DRAWING Why ‘embodied cognition’ theories are relevant to thinking through drawing

From the early point of my investigation, Daniel Kahneman’s ideas of ‘thinking fast and slow’, have played a big part in considering the wider spectrum of cognition rather than simply thinking of drawing within the medium. He characterises the human cognition as a ‘dual process’, a theory to describe two systems, fast and slow, intuitive and deliberate thinking. These potential ‘two agents’, as described by Kahneman, are like two traits within your cognition, with intuitive character being more influential to your experience than you might consider, co-driver of many decisions you make. It prompted me to question whether the process of drawing could release the shackles from the stiff and deliberate thinking to allow for intuitive and self-referential knowledge have its mark (2011). Exposing myself to the ‘dual process’ has prompted me to step back from the traditional way of looking at drawing as a detached activity, and think of drawing as a potential vehicle of thought, an activity which is more deeply rooted within the human nature. As a result, it also led me to consider the active role of the body, the drawing hand in particular, within the process of architectural thinking. By exposing the embodied wisdom, hidden beyond the conscious awareness and intentionality, we can better understand thinking behind drawing and the potential of our doodling for creativity.


Flexible Thinking The term ‘thinking’ is widely used but we don’t really think about what this term actually means. By looking at Rodin’s statue ‘The Thinker’ (fig 2.1), even though we can’t specifically know what he is thinking about, he appears to be more than just conscious, he is actively engaged in thought. The level of our engagement varies from task to task, however, it is important to recognise the process of ‘thinking’ as active (Jones and Fernyhough 2007), it is something that we do while walking and sleeping, it is part of most of our being. Measurements of the brain’s electrical activity allows us to see that the subjects display constant mental activity, even when they are sleeping (McKim 1980). In fact, most of our thinking occurs without us being fully aware, thus making mental activity such a tough subject to scientifically study. The mental life is often described by a metaphor of an iceberg: the small floating portion of the iceberg is compared to the conscious flow of thinking, a mode which we recognise and are fully aware of; while the large portion hidden underwater is the unconscious activity, a mode which we can’t physically observe but it is there, always running and keeping us afloat (McKim 1980). In Psychology, the term ‘dual process’ is widely described as follows: “System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effect and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective of agency, choice, and concentration.” (Kahneman 2011, p.21) (Adopted terms originally proposed by psychologists Keith Stanovich and Richard West). By looking at the two processes, most of us will identify with the System 2, conscious and reasoning, deciding what we are going to do and what to think about. Although System 2 seems like the main player, the automatic System 1 is the true hero of the creative mind. When we are awake, both systems are always running. System 2 takes the low effort approach, sitting 16

Fig 2.1 - ‘The Thinker’ - a bronze sculpture by Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1904.

on the side lines while System 1 is always engaged, constantly generating ideas, feelings, intuitions, impressions etc. If nothing abnormal happens, System 2 just lets the automatic System 1 run the operation, in other words, when you are familiar with the activity/environment, you tend to follow your intuition and give little conscious thought to what you are doing (Kahneman 2011). Rational thought is secondary in a sense, it acts as a response to the ideas already formed by the primary intuitive thinking processes. In the article about human information processes, Tom Cornsweet elaborates on this theory: “The quality of our thinking may have to do with the amount of information that is lost between the primary and secondary processes.” (cited in McKim 1980 p.25). The quality of our creative thinking is the ability to recognise and elaborate on the material provided by the never resting unconscious activity. In recent studies where participants were 17

asked to generate unique ways of using ordinary objects and to imagine the consequence of ‘unimaginable things’ happening the most creative participants proved to be the ones who allowed ‘wondering thoughts’ to filter in while they performed an effortful task. The key function of creative mind is the ability to harness intuitive and self-aware System 1 while concentrating on an external task run by System 2 (Kaufmen and Singer 2012). In the essay on ‘Emotional Blocks to Creativity’, Maslow writes about two concepts for creative thinking. He refers to Anne Roe’s studies of biologists, where she observed that “many good scientists are what the psychopathologist or therapist would call rather rigid people, rather constricted people, people who are afraid of their unconscious…” (Maslow 2000 p.220). Maslow describes these successful scientists as only being capable of, or open to, ‘secondary creativity’. Contributing to the field by “working along with a lot of other people, by standing upon the shoulders of people who have gone before them, by being cautious and careful.” (Maslow 2000, p.220). Secondary creativeness only allows you to deal with the world in logical and objective manner, taking away the ability to embrace wondering thoughts and human senses (McKim 1980). ‘Primary creativity’ as described by Maslow “comes out of the unconscious, the source of new discovery, of real novelty, of ideas which depart from what exists at this point.” (2000 p.220). ‘Primary creativeness’ is part of our human nature. Experienced by humans most notably during our dreams where we have no limitations; where we are more original, wittier and daring. Even during the day the primary mode of creativity is very common and “is found in all healthy children” (Maslow 2000 p.220). The ability to harness ‘primary creativity’ is lost as we get older and adjust to orderly thinking demands of the society. Maslow stresses the importance of psychological integration to the creative thinking, as he writes: “A truly integrated person can be both secondary and primary; both childish and mature. He can regress and then come back to reality, becoming then more controlled and critical in his responses.” (2000 p.230). He suggests that a person can only be as creative as the extent of their ability to be fully integrated within their thinking process. In other words, creativity comes from synthesis of raw (primary) and ordered 18

(secondary) thinking into one integrated process. Ultimately, being spontaneous, as well as rational to achieve a greater wholeness, which implies exploring, rather than disregarding, the ideas that come to surface (Krueger 2013).

Thinkig Vehicles As McKim describes flexible thinking in his book ‘Experiences in Visual Thinking’ (1980), he stresses the oversight within the education system to encourage or even mention subconscious mode of thinking. By definition, this mode can’t be observed, however, he describes thinking ‘vehicles’ as the means to represent thoughts to the consciousness. One of the main thinking vehicles is language, as Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky puts it “thought is born through language” (1986 p.255). These vehicles bridge the gap between fast and slow thinking as they create a platform for spontaneous thoughts to be revelead and analysed. For example, an architect will have a great difficulty designing a building just through language and will quickly find limitations due to the output of the vehicle. Drawing on the other hand, enables intuative visual thoughts have its mark and be developed in the process of sketching; thus, realising the architect be in tune with his ‘primary creativeness’. In addition, it is also important to understand that thinking vehicles are not thoughts themselves, they are representation of thought and act as a gateway to utilising our creative thinking (McKim 1980). “The architect can use many other instruments, but there is nothing which can substitute drawing without there being some loss, just as drawing cannot be used in the place of other tools for their own purpose.” (Siza 1997 p.17)

Thinking Hand “Architecture is not created, it is discovered – the hand will find solutions before the mind can even comprehend them.” Glenn Murcutt (cited in Atkins 2011) Within our culture we continue to perceive the human body as a dualistic entity. On one side of the coin we engross all of our attention to the aesthetic and physical attributes of the body; meanwhile, we equally celebrate intelligence and creativity,


but as completely separate entities with either case understood as unrelated to each other. Juhani Pallasmaa, architect and architectural thinker, argues in his book ‘The Thinking Hand’’, the division is created due to categorisation of human activities into: physical – where the body is considered as a form of human identity, as well as being merely a tool of the mind; and intellectual – where the brain is control of human cognition (2009). As Harold Rugg talks about ‘man’s highest skill’ – thinking - he simply puts it: “Nothing is more basic than the role of the body. We not only move with it, we think with it, feel with it, imagine with it.” (cited in McKim 1980 p.38). Recent research in cognitive science emphasises that cognition is embodied, we think with our body, as well as our brain (Kahneman 2011). Educational principles continuing to separate thought and action, as a result, failing to acknowledge the unity of the mind and body as an active and sensually integrated nature of human existence and knowledge, thus, the full potential of the body is neglected and undervalued from an early age in our society (Pallasmaa 2009). “If it is true that the hand does not merely wave from the end of the wrist, it is equally true that the brain is not a solitary command center, floating free in its cozy cranial cabin. Bodily movement and brain activity are functionally independent, and their synergy

Fig 2.2 - Tools convey a sense of beauty by their functional requirements and the way they were perfected over the generations. They serve as an extension, an enabler, of the thinking hand (Pallasmaa 2009). “A good craftsman doesn’t blame his tools”, he relies on his tools, but they don’t provide the solution. They enable the integrated person to find the solution through using the tools. 20

is so powerfully formulated that no single science or discipline can independently explain human skill or behaviour. […] The hand is so widely represented in the brain, the hands neurologic and biomechanical elements are so prone to spontaneous interaction and reorganization, and the motivations and efforts which give rise to individual use of the hand are so deeply and widely rooted, that we must admit we are trying to explain a basic imperative of human life.” (Wilson 2000 p.10) Wilson acknowledges the independence of the brain and body but also believes that the hand is as an extension of the brain from its traditional habitat inside the head. “[…] brain is hand, and hand is brain” (2000 p.307). The hand is part of the bigger organism, however, the claim is that the hand has its own skills, intentions and wisdom. More recently, anthropological and medical research and theories have affirmed these claims and point to the vital role of the hand within the evolution of human intelligence. Contrary to the common belief that the vast capabilities of the hands are a result of the evolutionary development of the human brain capacity; more accurate belief would be that the evolution of the human brain is a result of the evolution of the hand (Pallasmaa 2009). “Aristotle erred in asserting that humans had hands because they were intelligent; Anaxagoras was, perhaps, more correct in stating that humans were intelligent because they had hands.” (Boyle 1998 XIII). Considering that our hands and body play a key part in our thinking, perhaps the silent influencer on our decision making, the idea of ‘not knowing’ exactly what they were doing whilst making a drawing is a sensation described by many drawing practitioners. The feeling of you knowing the outcome simply by doing, however, not necessarily recognising how you got there. In Patricia Cain’s search to know what she was doing as she was drawing, her main research focus was on Francesco Varela’s ideas of enactivism. This school of thought is described as a continuing process between the brain, body and the environment: “Thinking is not a form of representation but a matter of enaction in which knowledge occurs from knowing through the body.” (Cain 2010 p52). Our whole body and senses are part of our overall thinking which processes the environment


and provides suitable behavioural response. Knowledge is more than consciously knowing facts, it includes the silent wisdom of the organism in relationship to the world. Nietzsche argues: ”The dancer think through his toes” (1956 p.224). Just as a dancer, an athlete thinks with their body and a musician thinks with their ears; which implies a different type of thought produced by the body and mind. Furthermore, Pallasmaa’s observations of painters, sculptors and craftsmen, affirms the belief and showed different type of ideas produced through the body and through their head. The head proved to be more precise and geometrical while the body projected spontaneity and passion (2009). Whether the architect is holding a pencil, a brush or a digital pen; the hand is a product of creation. It creates a fusion between mind, sensory realm and embodied wisdom that translates into an image. Pallasmaa ties the knowing hand directly to the creative process in architecture: “Architectural ideas arise ‘biologically’ from unconceptualised and lived existential knowledge rather than mere analysis and intellect. Architectural problems are, indeed, far too complex and deeply existential to be dealt with in a solely conceptualised and rational manner. […] The role of this fundamental, unconscious, situational and tacit understanding of the body in the making of architecture is grossly undervalued in today’s culture of quasi-rationality and arrogant self-consciousness.” (Pallasmaa 2009 p.15).




Ideation “Speaking in general terms, someone who chooses to do architecture does not need to know ‘how to draw’ let alone ‘how to draw well’. Drawing, seen as an autonomous language, is not indispensable for the design. […] It is just that all of us can draw and need to draw.” (Siza 1997 p.17) Alvaro Siza stresses the importance of drawing for design in architecture and visual thinking, however, the act of drawing as a vehicle for thinking is usually confused with drawing as a tool for communicating ideas to others. The second meaning of the word ‘drawing’ – to pull – is something that is rarely associated with the act of drawing itself, but it might be the most important quality of the activity. The process of ideation through drawing literally corresponds to pulling out thoughts, creating a dialogue with oneself and concretising ideas in a tangible way (Pallasmaa 2009). As we established in the last chapter, thinking is always active, thus, by engaging fully in the act of thinking through

Fig 3.1 – Alvaro Siza – early brainstorming sketches of Centre de Meteorology, Paseo Maritimo, Spain (Siza 1994 p.200 fig. 2).


drawing the person is able to pull out ideas which (s)he may not have even consciously considered or even able to express through other means. This activity is closely related to brainstorming. Generally thought of as a verbal act, but it can take lots of other forms. As McKim describes it: “dancer can brainstorm directly in dancing, a composer can brainstorm musically – and visual thinker can brainstorm visually.” (1980 p.125). For instance, Cullinan Studio, an award winning architecture practice, follow a basic principle of discouraging any form of ordinary criticism or judgement during the conception of the design ideas. In order to put your concept forward, the person must develop it through a sketch (Robbins 1997). In other words, as in verbal brainstorming exercise when someone says, “just shout the first thing that comes to mind’; in the visual brainstorm - rather than using words - the person starts to sketch the concept and finds the idea through the act. Thinking through drawing allows for spontaneous release and exploration of ideas, alleviating the delay of the intuitive response and the drawn outcome. In psychology, this concept is described as ideo-motor action. As illustrated by William James, it’s an automatic aspect of

Fig 3.2 – The ideo-motor pencil experiment – full concentration on one idea without interruptions and wondering thoughts, makes it virtually impossible to carry out the simplest actions. By fully emerging into the thought of dropping the pencil, you disable yourself from doing the action. The value of this experiment is learning about physical relaxation. By relaxing your thought process, you alleviate the stain on muscular activity and become able to perform intuitive gestures (Robinson 2009). 24

volitional activity (fig 3.2). In piano playing as an example, the pianist doesn’t experience any lag between a musical idea and motion of the fingers. The performer tends to let go of conscious attention within the performance of the activity, as your hand quite automatically does it. Unhesitating and instantaneous motor action, creates no lapse between the thinking hand and awareness of the brain, “to seize the very first opportunity is to act on every resolution that we make” (cited in Brozek 1984 p.150). While some methods of conceiving architecture may set boundaries to the potential of the outcome and only allow for conscious decisions to take place; the rapid succession of sketching allows the intuitive thoughts to filter in, thus leaving the flow of the creative process unhindered and open to the possibility of spontaneous reaction (McKim 1980). While this is the case, it is important to reiterate that drawing is vehicle of thought, not an thought itself. Many of us try to force pen on paper and hope the drawing will miraculously find the solution. But it never does. The problem lies in misunderstanding the activity (McKim 1980). If the person doesn’t have the necessary information, inspiration or anything to get the thought process going; the drawing itself won’t solve the problem for them, it can only allow for the thoughts to be discovered and formulated through the process.

Drawing in Order to See Curriculum thinking which assigns drawing to the sole purpose of education life in art is what stops most people from engaging with their impulses to draw. I constantly hear from my colleagues at university, or friends in general, “I wish I could draw but I’m not talented enough”. Although, all of them learned to read and write, many will avoid drawing because they associate it with artistic expression and believe they are incapable of producing something of value (Williams 1986). As a result, most will capture the world merely by looking and taking a mental note, or through a lens of a camera. This argument does not, of course, reduce the importance other vehicles but underlines their limitations as an act of thoughtful observation, which may affect the creative possibilities of an individuals. Kimon Nicolaides describes seeing through drawing as simple act, no need for specific technique or skill, just full engagement of the participant in the activity: “it has nothing to do with artifice or technique. It has nothing to do with 25

aesthetics or conception. It has only to do with the act of correct observation, and by that I mean a physical contact with all sorts of objects through all the senses.” (1968 p.192). Drawing is a sensory activity which combines the external reality, our interpretation of set reality and mental imagery into one operation. When a person sketches they can observe and depict an outline of the subject; understand and capture the surface; focus on what grabs their attention and simplify it for their own understanding; mimic the rhythm of the marks with your muscles which become embedded within the working memory of the hand. Pallasmaa claims that the activity of drawing produces three different type of images: the image which is drawn on the piece of paper, the image encoded within your brain, and the muscular memory of marking the paper. The images are not static snapshots of the scene, but rather, a progression of continuous perception and correction, starting from when you first see the subject till the time you close the sketch book. The final result compresses and compiles the entire duration into one image (2009). “It is the actual act of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations.” (Berger 2007 p.3). Seeing through drawing is a process of receiving the information from the observed environment, and subconsciously refining the information by associating the images with personal experiences. Furthermore, Aldous Huxley explains that a novice observer will capture far less than someone who knows what he is looking for. For example, while taking a hike, a city dweller will be blind to many things that an experienced hiker will automatically pick up on. Even though two people are looking at the same thing, we are seeing things differently. A knowledgeable observer has a wealthier supply of memories with which he automatically associates the incoming visual information (McKim 1980). It is apparent that the process of drawing blends one’s perception and embodied knowledge to create the drawing which represents more than just the actual subject matter. “A drawing of a tree shows, not a tree, but a


tree-being-looked-at.” (Berger 2007 p71). The drawing does not reproduce the building, a detail or a tree exactly as they are, it captures the way the object is being looked at in a certain condition with the person’s own perception of the object - perception which is influenced by multitude of past experiences. Correspondingly, while cameras were becoming a valuable tool for recording the physical environment towards the end of 19th century, Santiago Ramon y Cajal, a pioneer in neuroscience, insisted that all his student take watercolour lessons. His reasoning was that: “If our study is concerned with an object related to anatomy or natural history, etc., observations will be accompanied by sketching, for, aside from other advantages, the act of depicting something disciplines and strengthens the attention, obliging us to cover the whole of the phenomenon studied and preventing, therefore, detail from escaping our attention which are frequently unnoticed in ordinary observation […] It is not without reason that all great observers are skilful in sketching.” (cited in Pallasmaa 2009 p90). As a result, seeing through drawing is not about the end result, it’s about the process of thoughtful observation which leads you to being fully engaged with your environment and depicting what the person may not necessarily notice simply by looking.

Fig 3.3 – Louis Khan – the view looking out of the portico drawn from source, Temple of Minerva, Assisi (Johnson and Lewis 1996 p.116, fig.102-103). 27

Relevance of Skill A skill is defined as the ability to do something well. It is usually achieved with prolonged practice of a craft or activity; as it requires tireless practice based on the person’s dedication and commitment. With estimates based on research show that any specialised skill requires roughly ten thousand hours, a number which comes up time and time again (Pallasmaa 2009). Alvaro Siza argues that drawing does not require skill or specialisation. We all possess the basic ability to sketch in order to express ideas, he justifies his position when he notes: “when it comes to drawing, any child is able to express itself vigorously and well; as are disabled people and those considered mad.” (Siza 1997 p.17). If we look at activity from perspective of children, who have not developed any drawing skills yet, it is notable that most, if not all children can express themselves and observe the surroundings through the medium. What makes drawing even more biologically interesting is that children from all around the world generally produce quite similar drawings. Their visual faculty is kindred at an early age, however, as they start picking up influences from the specific cultures of where they grow up and their interest in life, their drawings begin to alter. In other words, from an early age we view the world from an unfiltered lens, and as gain experience, the more influence it has on our way to express our ideas (Rawson 1979). As Picasso once said, it only took him four years to learn how to draw like the greats, but a lifetime to learn how to draw like a child (Honan 2015). Contrary to Siza, McKim argues that the importance of drawing skill is something that should not be overlooked. Poor drawing abilities may have negative consequences on thinking through drawing. Clumsy penmanship could evoke judgement and hinder the flow of ideas. The conscious attention of trying to draw, or even trying to draw well, is thought diverted from ideation through drawing. You wouldn’t be able to convey your thoughts well by speaking if you didn’t have years of verbal communication and schooling. The same applies to drawing, you wouldn’t expect coherent idea expression without the practice in visual thinking (1980). Perhaps, psychologist Herbert Simon, who studied chess masters and revealed their unique way to view chess pieces, has described the skill best when he wrote about the role of intuitive 28

expertise within an activity: “The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more or nothing less than recognition.” (Simon 1992 p.155). The notion of intuitive expertise within the skill is the person’s ability to be proficient enough in the act, so as not to divert your capabilities from recognising the idea. Furthermore, in ‘Drawing as the means to architecture’, Locklard simply writes that if you were to learn the skill of drawing, the tools must be used often, and used with your ‘brain’. In other words, to gain the confidence with the gestures of drawing and utilise the thinking possibilities through the activity, the instrument must be picked up often (1965). As a result, freeing the attention from the act itself and allowing the expert recognition to concretise on the ideas through the intuitive motions of the hand (fig 3.4). What is more, Anton Ehrenzweig, pianist and psychoanalytic,

Fig 3.4 – Creative search: “The maze (serial structure) of a creative search. The creative thinker has to advance on a broad front keeping open many options. He must gain a comprehensive view of the entire structure of the way ahead without being able to focus on any single possibility.” (Ehrenzweig 1973 p36 fig. 4).


claims that over emphasis on the expertise of the skill can actually hinder the true essence of the creative activity: “The dutiful pianist wishes to acquire first the necessary craftsmanship for regularizing and equalizing the action of his fingers. If he ignores the spontaneous inflections of his playing he will kill the spirit of living music” (1973 p.57). Brodsky, similarly to Ehrenzweig, expresses the negative impact of over confidence for the creative activities. Sense of certitude and acknowledged expertise in the activity, belittles the approach to each individual problem as a new endeavour, creating a conscious preconception of the result. “No honest craftsman or maker knows in the process of working whether he is making or creating […] The process takes precedence over its result, if only because the latter is impossible without the former.” (cited in Pallasmaa 2009 p.81). The idea is conceived and defined through the process, conscious target of where the drawing is going can only limit the possibilities of your thinking. Similarly, during a Ted Talk, Frank Gehry explains the idea of healthy insecurity: “For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did, and I get the sweats, I go in and start working, Fig 3.5 – Early Frank Gehry’s sketch of Guggenheim Bilbao (Arcspace 2012).


I don’t know where I’m going – if I knew where I was going, I wouldn’t do it.” (Gehry 2008 quoted at 4:45). Perhaps, the biggest misconception of the drawing skill in the conception of architecture, and how we can interpret Picasso’s search to draw like a child, is that it’s not about the technique or style of how the person executes the drawing, but rather, is about being fully integrated in the actual process of making the drawing. As described previously in the chapter ‘Flexible thinking’, Maslow’s concept of ‘primary creativity’ is found in all children, yet, gets lost in many adults. Children have the ability to express themselves without letting the conscious rationale completely take over the activity (Maslow 2000). They are not worried about the technique or style, there is no end goal of how the drawing should look like, they are learning about the world through process of drawing. Similarly, Frank Gehry, pioneer in architecture design, takes on each project as a new endeavour. With no preconception of what the end result should look like, the initial but distinctive sketches are a key to his expressive designs. They flow on to the page with impulsive and intuitive gestures, conveying a loose structure of his daring imagination. The form, concept and flow of the building is found along the way in the process of brainstorming, and in special cases like the Guggenheim Bilbao, the built result has kept the true essence of the form captured in the impulsive sketchiness of Gehry’s drawing (fig 3.5) (Arcspace 2012). Then again, in the book ‘Why architects draw’, the interviews show that everyone has their own process and drawing styles in the creation of architecture. Unlike children, we have been influenced and we have certain problems to solve, there is room for different notions of how we find these solutions. Lack of belief in your technical ability, similarly to most skills in life, will hinder and devalue the process of creation through drawing. The more conscious you are of doing the activity, the less integration there is between the embodied wisdom of the body and mind. Learning from our biology and the natural ability for children to express freely, thinking through drawing is only as powerful as our ability to let your mind relax during the activity.






Introduction Le Corbusier is not only one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, but also influential for his process of visual thinking. Due to the importance of sketching to his work, it is virtually impossible to talk about his designs without talking about drawing process in the conception of architecture. Le Corbusier demonstrated drawing as a necessity for his creative thinking and the process remains an inspiration for many. Whether it is working with pen, pencil, watercolours or chalk; drawing was always the means for him to understand the past and explore the new (Fraser and Henmi 1994). To learn from and understand Le Corbusier’s creative process of thinking through drawing, one must know where he started. His architectural training was completely self-imposed. He never went to an architecture school, and as a result, his initial process was highly influenced by the decorative arts which he studied at secondary school. Le Corbusier spent his school years under the tutoring of Charles L’Eplattenier. Towards the end of his studies, Charles influenced his voracious student to take on the Grand Tour, a tradition for many creative professionals to travel across Europe in order to “expand one’s mind and understanding of the world.” (Brillhart 2016 p.18). This included visits to monuments, landscapes, ancient cities, painting galleries etc., which ignited Le Corbusier’s interest in possibilities of architecture to shape the cultures and urban spaces everywhere he travelled. The


sketchbook had become a primary tool for him to record and understand, a visual dialogue where he captured the subject matter of each place. Drawing became a natural tool for his architectural training. As Le Corbusier’s interests expanded though his travel, so did his process of documenting what he saw. Instead of creating beautiful watercolour drawings he started to add analytical

Fig 4.1 – Le Corbusier.

drawings to his repertoire (Brillhart 2016). His concern was less with providing a realistic or beautiful representation, but rather focusing on impressions and thoughts behind the subjects. After the visualisations, he typically used other vehicles, primarily text, to rationalise the experience, characters, tectonics etc. (Liang 2000). “I would like architects - not just students to pick up a pencil and a draw a plant, a leaf, the spirit of a tree, the harmony of a sea shell, formation of clouds, the complex play of waves spreading out on a beach, so as to discover different expressions of an inner force. I would like their hands and minds to become passionately involved in this kind of intimate investigation.” (Guiton 1982 p.83) For Le Corbusier, drawing was a process of emotions. In the quote, he mentions “harmony”, “inner force” and “spirit” to emphasise his concern is with capturing more than just the surface appearance of the subject matter. He learned to see objects not only as they were but also what they represented. 34

The question wasn’t ‘What is it I am looking at?’ But rather, ‘What is this doing or telling me?’ With this approach, the drawings were always ‘purposeful’, creating a clear understanding of the subject for him (Brillhart 2016). The drawing allowed for a possibility to explore the unseen quality, a vision beyond the surface. And with this intimate approach towards drawing, Le Corbusier captured the world in a way that wasn’t possible through other means. The process itself opened new possibilities of thoughtful observation and investigation (Fraser and Henmi 1994). Le Corbusier’s visual thinking grew from impulsively recording the impressions of the world around him. In his sketchbooks, he drew with rapid marks on paper to log his visual experiences. When a subject matter struck his attention, he quickly recorded it. He never focused just on architecture, swiftly shifting - from architecture to landscapes, from people to animals, from nudes to furniture – always in the search of the ‘inner force’, an unseen quality which he could only capture and investigate through drawing. For example, the sketches of animals show his fascination with form. Time and time again he would come back to the same subjects to study them through a new set of eyes; to see it from a different view and further his understanding. He would re-draw lines on top of each other along the contours of cows and bulls, analysing their shape in the process. By making these drawings he does more than simply record the shape of the bulls, he represents their profile in the new dimension. Sometimes they would be represented in plan or elevation, views which are never truly seen in nature but helped him to investigate the subject. These types of drawings were far from being beautiful representations, but rather, they were private, confident sketches which helped him closely examine and understand their features, as well as their individualities. Even though Le Corbusier never had any formal architectural education, the travel drawings were Le Corbusier’s rite of passage to becoming one of the most profound architects of the 20th century. Embodied in his sketchbook is the search to understand the true essence of everything he saw through drawing; thus, giving him the ammunition to becoming such a dynamic architect. As a result, even in the modern day of computation, he remains relevant architectural teacher. 35

Thoughtful Observations During his early travels, Le Corbusier’s drawing conventions developed from those similar to an artist – beautiful, precise and true to life depictions - to being more focused on quick and expressive architectural representations of spaces with perspectives and two dimensional plans, sections and elevations. Combining varying drawing conventions opened the possibility for him to represent the exact elements which he wanted to remember. Thus, Le Corbusier’s thoughtful observations always used a mix of drawing types to capture the concept of the investigation. There are three simplified drawing categories which we can identify within his process: ‘Representational drawings’ – drawing which represent the environment exactly as it is and as the person sees it. In some case, a level of abstraction is added which allowed for his own interpretation to come forward. This entails simplifying details, applying selective colour and only drawing the lines which he deemed as needed. ‘Analytical drawings’ – primarily used to break down the subject in to isolated parts in order to understand specific concepts and provide a new interpretation of what he saw. This method primarily used architectural drawing conventions that creates different view of the building, a view which is not normally seen from a human perspective (axonometric, plans, elevations, sections etc.). ‘Visual note taking/diagrammatic’ – this is a quick form of drawing which captures the most important aspects to store away for future interpretation. Including forms, heights, proportions etc. All of these methods intersect and borrow from one another. There is no clear separation between what method the drawing had to follow, they were mixed and used in a way which allowed for him to really ‘see’ the building, space or subject etc. (Brillhart 2016 p.23). With too many details to capture in reality, Le Corbusier took control by only drawing the lines which needed to be drawn. This becomes apparent when you look at a photograph of subject matter in comparison to what Le Corbusier chose to draw (fig4.2). During his trip through Siena, he captured the interior of 36

the Siena Cathedral. Materiality, colour and light is represented and exaggerated within the sketch (Brillhart 2016). He eliminated the rest of noise in the scene and concentrated on how the main elements interplay with one another. In this representational drawing, Le Corbusier focuses on the foreground of the image, drawing only what is needed to be drawn and blurring out the detail between the columns in the background. Although the drawing is over-dramatised, it still manages convey a sense of reality - from the way the colour fades on the surface of columns, creating a realistic value of how the colour is seen in three dimensions; to the way the light hits each surface, creating shadows to express depth of the space. This drawing is a great study of interior which clearly shows Le Corbusier’s thoughtful observation of how the

Fig 4.2 – Left: Le Corbusier’s on site interior drawing of the Siena Cathedral, 1907. Right: Photo comparison (Brillhart 2016 p.26).

space functioned. This method allowed him to capture the main atmospheric qualities of what it would be like to be within the space without overcomplicating the image with photo-realistic detail and focus throughout. Thus, making materiality, colour and light the main take away concepts from the interior; while blurring the elements which he deemed unnecessary to his observation. By looking at other Le Corbusier’s drawings of Siena Cathedral, we clearly see a different drawing type which allowed him to investigate and capture elements of the facade (fig4.3). With quick overall sketches, he was able to understand the proportion and patterns of the façade, before taking the next step to analyse the materials and textures in detail. These drawings combine analytical with representational methods to allow for complete observations of the exterior. The elevation is judged 37

and roughly measured to create a view which is not seen from a human perspective, however, it allows for better understanding of façade composition. A flattened drawing suggests that he is not interested in the public square in front or how passers-by perceive the building; he is more concerned with more technical understanding of how the elements come together (Brillhart 2016). While on the other side of the page, the specific details are drawn from human perspective, allowing him to focus on light, shadow and texture. This creates a much more personal representation of the elements, since the way you perceive them would vary from person to person due their location, time of day, previous experience etc. Unlike the logical and thoughtout approach to drawing the elevations where Le Corbusier composed the overall two dimensional analysis of the façade, these perspective drawing create atmosphere to capture the detail and beauty of specific details which struck his attention. As Le Corbusier became more comfortable with drawing architecture and picking on nuances that most passers-by wouldn’t consciously think about, he began to do a lot more visual note taking. This quick method of drawing allowed him to capture


Fig 4.3 - Le Corbusier’s continuation of investigating Siena Cathedral. Façade and ornamentation studies, Siena, 1907 (Brillhart 2016 p.86).

many different aspects of the building really quickly by only drawing few lines to show the underline concept of his thoughts on the subject. During his trip to Pantheon in Rome, he primarily used this method to capture his experience. No watercolour, no detailing, just simple lines to observe everything he needed to know about the building. By the time he left, he ended with six full pages in his sketchbook (Brillhart 2016). The studies ranged from depicting the external perspectives of the drum as it curves

Fig 4.4 – Pencil exploration of the interior and exterior volume, The Pantheon, Rome, 1911(Brillhart 2016 p.179).

away, to sectional analysis of the relationship between the drum and the portico. All the detail and ornamentation is simplified, focusing on the broader understanding of the building and how it stands in its context. This method of simplification and freedom with the pencil gave him the ability analyse many different aspects of the building in quick succession. By not overcomplicating the contents of the drawing, he only captured what he wanted to remember. As a result, creating clarity of thought within the investigation.


“When one travels and works with visual things - architecture, painting, and sculpture - one uses one’s eyes and draws, so as to fix deep down in one’s experience what is seen. Once the impression has been recorded by the pencil, it stays for good, entered, registered, inscribed.... To draw oneself, to trace the lines, handle the volumes, organize the surface ... all this means first to look, and then to observe and finally perhaps to discover ... and it is then that inspiration may come.” (Le Corbusier 1960 p.37).

Le Corbusier didn’t go to university, his travels served him as his education. The practice of capturing through drawing as he travelled around Europe was a vehicle which helped him see, understand and revise his views on architecture. The engagement of drawing forces you to really look and analyse the scene in front of you. Most of us think we understand simply by looking or snapping a photo, but in reality we do not pay attention to the individual parts which make up the scene as a whole (Brillhart 2016). With real time reflection, you are constantly absorbing queues from the environment and analysing the information as you are making marks on paper. A lot of the information is dealt with automatically without us consciously thinking about while we are drawing. That information is then further analysed and improved upon as the sketch develops. The act of drawing enhances visual memory by relating visual imagery to the marks on the paper, concretising the scene within our mind to consciously or unconsciously effect our decision making in the future (McKim 1980). As you put pen to paper, you take authorship of the lines and you are forced to pay attention to size, materials, colour, shadow, light and everything in between. You are no longer looking, you are drawing in order to see.

Thinking Through Drawing The process of drawing represented Le Corbusier’s internal dialogue of visual thoughts. These sketchbooks became intimate journals of his experiences. They acted as a way to implant those experiences into his working memory as well as creating a physical reminder which he can refer back to at any point. As described by Michael Graves, ‘referential sketches’ were a diary of Le Corbusier’s journey and discoveries (1981). “It was 40

obviously not a question of compiling a kind of catalogue of forms or models but rather one of retaining ideas and solutions, of noticing analogies of forms attributable to analogies of functions.” (Pauly 1987 p.131). With a diverse range of drawings within Le Corbusier’s sketchbooks - from animal forms (fig4.5), to daylighting, to an airplane wing - Daniele Pauly describes his practice of constant sketching as the key to his creative thinking, embedded ideas of different entities to be drawn into a new creative fusion within his designs.

Fig 4.5 – Le Corbusier: Cow with Calf, 1950 (Fraser and Henmi 1994 p.3 fig.1.1).

One of the most revealing factors of Le Corbusier’s sketchbooks is the absence of separation between his ‘referential drawings’ and the concept design drawings. The lack of formal differences shows that in his mind, there was no distinction between the two, there was never a wasted sketch. Even if one sketch was of the existing and other being forms of his imagination, they were all part of the overall collection of ideas and concepts for him to reimagine. As referred to earlier, for his thoughtful observations Le Corbusier would be deeply involved within the subject, looking for its ‘spirit’ and providing a purpose for the sketch. The design sketches were an extension of that procedure. During the search for new architectural ideas and solutions, he would tap into a multiplicity of visual experiences, forms and concepts in order to fuse them together with the drawing hand. His colleagues account that Le Corbusier would always keep his sketchbooks nearby and frequently look through them as inspiration in order to develop the design ideas. Consciously or not, as he would flick through his logs of ‘spirits’ and ‘harmonies’, it allowed him 41

to envision their essence in a new environment, into new design idea (Fraser and Henmi 1994). Even masterful architects like Le Corbusier, do not design buildings out of thin air, they combine captured influences to fuse them with the potentials of the site, building programme and circumstance, in order to create a new architectural synthesis. Similarly, Alvaro Siza described the creative process in architecture quite similarly, as he wrote: “Architects do not invent anything, they transform reality.” (cited in Pallasmaa 2009 p.18). Le Corbusier’s always began his design process with an ideogram, a simple sketch representing the main premise of the scheme with just a few crude marks on paper. The design of Carpenter Visual Arts Centre in Boston fundamentally began from a quick drawing in his sketchbook (fig4.6). The sketch wasn’t drawn on day one,

Fig 4.6 – Conceptual sketch of Carpenter Visual Arts Center, Boston, Massachusetss, 1960 (Fraser and Henmi 1994 p.9 fig.1.9).

there was a period of four months where thoughts and research about the site and building programme of the project took place in order to cultivate the initial design sketch. This is an example exploratory drawing showing Le Corbusier’s use of messy lines to clearly capture the essential concept of the project. A starting point which leads the rest of the design going forward (Sekler and Curtis 1978). The drawing looks like it was spontaneously done in minutes, however, it portrays critical elements of the scheme – the main theme of the project is established with the ramp running through the centre, the volumes are placed in 42

accordance with the central element, the basic forms indicate curvature and movement through the project, the idea of height between the forms is established due to the various functions needed (the notes specifies painting, sculpture and exhibition as activities within the forms). This sketch sets the language for the project, creating a direction where the design can now be further explored and tested. While it creates certain parameters, it is also ambiguous enough to undertake an open-ended investigation (Fraser and Henmi 1994). Similarly, in the design of the Chapel of Ronchamp in France, the project began with a quick sketch which was drawn during the train journey coming back from the site (fig4.7). However, in this sketch the influences for this initial design idea are much more apparent and can be traced back to his earlier experience of visiting the Parthenon in Athens (fig4.8), almost 40 years before. Le Corbusier saw the site of Ronchamp similarly to that of the Parthenon, “a high place in both senses: morally and physically.” (Petit 1970 p.184). When comparing the two sketches, we can see that he focuses mainly on top of the hill with detail demising as it goes lower towards the city. Le Corbusier intentionally ignores the cities below to emphasise the elevated positions of the buildings, a high and holy places which are of a higher

Fig 4.7 – Le Corbusier’s pencil sketch from the journey to the east, The Parthenon, Athens, 1911 (Brillhart 2016 p.167).

Fig 4.8 – Extract from Le Corbusier’s sketchbook, The Chapel of Ronchamp, France, 1950 (Liang 2000 p.72 fig.3.2)


Fig 4.9 – Site photo of the completed project, The Chapel of Ronchamp, France, 1954 (Pestoune 2014).

standing literally and metaphorically. The sketch of Ronchamp shows the same quick and messy style of suggesting architectural concept - white and almost pure elevated chapel, sitting above the city scape with its dominant location on the hill. By looking at the comparison of the built project (fig 4.9), we can see strong resemblance with the first sketch which revealed initial thoughts of the final solution (Liang 2000). Following the early concept sketch, Le Corbusier and his office worked on developing the project through numerous iterations of plans and sections. Switching from hard line drawings done by his colleagues to Le Corbusier’s freehand overlays. Starting with loose strokes in the search of the solution, and being more and more in control with the way the lines were drawn as the solution becomes clearer. These types of freehand studies where different to his sketchbook drawings. They were much bigger in size and provided a scale which allowed him to draw freely, but also be aware of proportions. The latest overlay always became the new master drawing with the most up to date scheme. The overlay was then was turned into the new underlay to be further worked on and made into a precise hard-line drawing, to be overlaid again. This sequence created a dialogue between each drawing and allowed for a balance between precise studies of hard-line drawings and freehand intuitive sketching to develop the design concept (Fraser and Henmi 1994). It is evident that thinking through drawing was a crucial part for Le Corbusier’s process of designing. Searching through the archive of experiences captured in his sketchbook, consciously or unconsciously, influenced his initial design ideas. This created vague guidance for the project to follow, to be further 44

investigated and tested with combination of freehand drawing, done by Le Corbusier himself; and precise hard-line drawings which investigated more technical aspects, done by his team. The underline method for all his design work was drawing. He drew for pleasure; he drew in order to see; he drew in order to design and fuse the project variables with his observations.





For architects and architecture students hand drawing used to be a necessary skill. A way to discover ideas, develop designs and present their work. With new and exciting software being developed every day, we adapt and utilise it to make our design process more efficient. As a result, many tasks which used to be done by hand are now becoming digitalised. Thus, alleviating our precious time from doing repetitive work, and in some cases, even designing aspects of the building for us (Pallasmaa 2009). As much as the shift with the digital world is necessary and beneficial in many ways, there is also a need step back, and recognise the benefits of traditional methods for creative thinking. Although, thinking through drawing as a process is encouraged, from my perspective, it is not very well utilised or valued by the future generation of architects. The first step to analysing the value of thinking through drawing was acknowledging that thinking is always active and it involves the body, as well as the mind. As described by Kahneman, the dual mode of thinking, fast and slow, explores constant human cognition and the way we respond to situations on a day to day basis. With fast and automatic mode being always engaged, while the slow and deliberate mode is sitting on the side lines, filtering in when something challenging happens (2011). More specifically to architecture, the ‘dual process’ represents the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ modes of creativity. On one side, we respond to problem by being spontaneous and self-referential; and on the other side, we only deal with problems in orderly and constricted fashion. This separation of creative thought is the key to understanding the value of thinking through drawing. Creative capacity is only as effective as the person’s ability to recognise the need for flexibility in thinking (Maslow, 2000). In order to be maximise human cognitive capacity and become as innovative,


creative and rational as can be; the output of thought must be considered and used at appropriate times due to the task in hand. By thinking through drawing we open the possibility for fusion of the body and mind, taking away any lapse between action and thought. In result, allowing for self-referential and unconscious thoughts to be discovered, developed and rationally analysed through the process. During my investigation of thinking through drawing, I established that the process can be split into two operations. The first one, ‘ideation’, is discovery and development of the ideas through drawing. The act of visual brainstorming allows the person to seize on every idea through a quick succession of sketches (McKim 1980). As drawing is merely a vehicle, not a thought itself, the value of the operation relies on the person’s architectural expertise and proficiency in the activity. For that reason, just simply forcing pen on paper, without putting any work in to the craft or developing your architectural knowledge, won’t solve the problem. This is where operation two comes in, ‘drawing in order to see’, is thoughtful observation and investigation through drawing. The act of being fully engaged in the environment allows you to thoroughly investigate the scene and notice things which you might not see simply by looking. By learning through drawing, we concentrate on things which grab our attention, as well as build up muscle memory which help us become more efficient in the activity. The more practice we have in this operation, the more able we become at depicting and observing the objects without letting details slip by. Through studying Le Corbusier’s journey of ‘drawing in order to see’, it is evident that he was dedicated and eager to learn, however, he did not start of being a masterful architect (Brillhart 2016). The work he put in to the craft of drawing, understanding how to best utilise the medium and truly observe the places he visited, was a powerful learning process which he never stopped developing; thus, he never stopped learning. His travel sketches show progression, as well as his ability to adapt the medium to suit the subjects and what he wanted to learn from them. This process of storing visual information through sketching, not only created a physical reminder of the experience, but also,


the strokes of the drawing were embedded in his hand and his self-referential visual memory (Pallasmaa 2009). These visual memories were a big influence for Le Corbusier’s later work. Consciously or unconsciously, he would borrow concepts and develop them into a new design fusion with the drawing hand. Whether we are studying at university or working in a commercial architecture practice, there is immeasurable value of thinking through drawing. Either used to capture a detail or to design the concept of the building, the present and active experience of drawing is crucial for our creative thinking. Perhaps, until technology allows for an output which may substitute the benefits of drawing, we should keep our pen and paper handy.


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Profile for Yevgen Gozhenko

Thinking Through Drawing - Dissertation by Yevgen Gozhenko  

Thinking Through Drawing - Dissertation by Yevgen Gozhenko