Sunday, 8 May 2016

Drawing as an exploration of urban space

The abstract of a paper which will be presented at the forthcoming conference THE ART OF ARCHITECTURE: HAND DRAWING AND DESIGN to be held at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture 29 September - 1 October 2016

Drawing as an exploration of urban space

This paper will reflect on the drawings produced in preparation for the book 'The Politics of the Piazza: the History and Meaning of the Italian Square' (Ashgate 2008).

The images created fall into three stages which correspond with three types of representation. Drawings of the space in situ, the experience of being in the piazza and the visual enclosure of surrounding buildings were recorded, often from different viewpoints, as an aide-memoire, as much as a document of a time and place. The second type, corresponding to the analytical stage take the form of axonometric projections, reducing the elements of the piazza to a simple form to capture the essential relationships of building and space, solid and void. The third stage was the production of watercolour renderings of the spaces, hybrid compositions which combine details and general drawings to capture the atmosphere of the spaces studied, with colour applied and occasional elements of capriccio.

The drawing methodology, as distinct from the textual and archival methods employed in parallel, allowed a loosely systematic research to be pursued which, while alert to the typical conditions, could encompass the variety of planned and organic spaces which were included in the study. The employment of different methods of visual and spatial analysis, sketching, diagramming and composition allowed the text to be supported with qualitative design material which emphasised the uniqueness of the tradition of Italian urban space, and the consistency of it as a representative expression of societal values.

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