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Beyond instrumental use: a study of writing on architectural drawings in the late twentieth century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2018

Sonit Bafna
Hoyoung Kim


The 1980s witnessed a sudden rise of writing and thinking about architectural drawings and their conventions. At about the same time, there also emerged a trend of a new type of presentational drawing in architecture, in which drawings were very complex to the point of undecipherability, graphically sophisticated, and sometimes seemingly created for their own sake rather than to represent a particular architectural project. Upon reviewing the texts on drawings from this period, two important insights are made about the use of presentational drawings in architectural practice and their relation to theory. First, that making of architectural drawings can constitute practice in its own right and such practice, if developed experimentally, leads theory, rather than lagging it and serving to validate it. Second, architectural drawings, over and above communicating information about their subject matter, can also function as a means to create social networks of discursive practice. These insights lead to an unexpected question concerning the distinctiveness of architectural practice itself.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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