Sketching helps me to understand and navigate between the different scales. For example, when sketching the city I try to redefine the systems of the existing historical structures. Sketching is also a good way to define a place without a form.
I consider architecture as a mixture of drawing, thinking and writing. In my work I write a lot about architecture. In one of my jobs the first step was to explore how to define the project literally, with words and emotions, as Aldo Rossi used to do. He was as much interested in writing as in building. After I’ve completed this phase I try to think about the building.
I used to start planning by doing a lot of sketches first. Now it’s slightly different. We first prepare the program, then we write and explore the conditions around us in order to understand the client. After this we try to realize the organigram of the functions, making a scheme of the dimensions and connections. Then we start doing sketches of the volume, designing it on a computer and preparing other sketches to correct the computer drawings, all this to better understand what we are doing. The final stage is computer detailing.
Designing by hand is much “warmer”, it has a more human touch compared to designing by autocad. I don’t know what other people think of sketching and drawing. I think it’s important but maybe it’s because of the generation I belong to. My students don’t use it. I don’t think that the quality of a sketch should be important since what’s important is the idea in the hand, and you have to be able to express certain architectural thoughts with your hands. Nobody uses sketch paper, pens, or pencils from the younger generation. They just use primitive prints of cad drawings so they fail to gain an understanding of the scale, nor of the meaning of a line. They use the same computer elements for every drawing, and that destroys the idea of architecture. I think we should put some thought in a project before doing anything. Sketching or writing is a way of thinking and understanding. Sketching, renderings and making models as simultaneously used techniques help you to understand proportions. Using just renderings can lead to a lot of mistakes. To sketch something well is to think about what is beyond building – not just in the sense of Aaron Betsky – but about what happened before the project was conceived. You need to consider what the connection is between your thoughts and your hand… Sketching answers the question of what exactly you want to do on an empty white sheet of paper.