On Drawing

The line is movement. A drawer’s experience influences the line which is imbued with speed. The characteristics of the line always affect the movement of the hand and vice versa. In the beginning we concentrate on drawing a “good” line. At this point the line is slow and strained, because we are afraid that the pen will leave a mark on the paper. Movement is uncertain because we cannot decide whether the line will be good or not. Then the interrupted lines appear and later the clustered lines, which are more confident but because they are clusters they lack the genuineness of the line. In the end, we draw a line with a single gesture. It is imbued with speed, we know where it is going, and we know what it wants to do because we now have the movement in our hands. This knowledge mediates confidence to the idea, which is not influenced by the use of an implement.

I use a pen while drawing and designing. A pen is a good tool because it is indelible. If I spoil something, I have to start again. Using a pen teaches discipline and concentration. The line, and especially a line drawn with a pen, is concentration. Concentration in the sense that I have to pay attention to what I’m drawing and also a concentration, or condensation, of ideas and thoughts. The thinking of a drawer as a designing technique is therefore concentration and at the same time condensation.

Architectural design has its own constraints. The framework in this case is ambiguous. Drawing paper appears as a kind of frame in exactly the same way as the rules for designing. The prescriptions together with these influence our thinking. Today we are living in the age of individual styles, so whoever cannot create the appropriate rules for themselves is probably not able to design a good house. Everybody can search for those rules for their work according to their own skills. While we are designing we create new rules. An architect is responsible for properly establishing his or her own rules.

The development of a design evolves during the various phases of drawing. If somebody draws a lot, the design almost jumps over to the next phase by itself. For example, the previously drafted sketches are organised according to the rules of geometry. The use of geometry – the “game” of constructing – is a rule that can’t be avoided. One such constructional rule is perspective. The wonderful thing about perspective is that it’s even good when it’s bad. When I draw a three-dimensional shape, it’s a two-dimensional shape on the paper but at the same time many people see the three-dimensional shape and perspective in it. On the other hand, they cannot establish whether this two-dimensional shape is the side of a cube or a prism. They don’t know if it is space or volume. This ambiguity is resolved by the conscious or unconscious “spoiling” of perspective. Perspective is an intellectual construction.

While designing something, are we influenced by a spoilt line or a spoilt patch? Yes, we are. This is the case when we sit down and consciously design something and then while doing it the pen slips out of our hands and the spoilt line may lend us intuition. If we have the gift of insight, following the intuition we acquire through spoiling the line the design can take a new direction, allowing us to avoid everything that we had up to that point regarded as according to the rules and “normal”. Intuition comes into being as the condensation of experiences, thus it’s not at all sure if we will be intuitive if we design without experience and according to just logic and the rules. Intuition helps us to shape our design in a way that we had previously not imagined because we believed we knew everything about our lines although it turned out not to be so. We knew nothing.

A plan, even if it is only a sketch, is just as much a mystical drawing as the cave drawings of primeval man because it also mediates the future that we wish to come true according to our hopes and wishes. In a drawing – which can be interesting as a final result – architecture already exists. When the drawing – the plan – is turned into material by being built, then architecture reaches a dimension that everybody (can) understand, but it is separated from its creator. The idea of architecture is inherent in the lines. In this sense, every line and drawing is pure architecture, regardless of what intention lies behind it. The important things take place “in the space” of the paper. Drawing is crucial because everything that can be said in the language of architecture exists there. Drawing cannot be expressed in words.