Experiments in Drawing Theory




Elective participants


‘Experiments in Drawing Theory’ investigates the speculative power of drawing in developing an architectural position by analyzing three seminal architectural work: Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Carceri d’Invenzione series (1745/50 – 1761), Bernard Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts (1976-1981) and John Hejduk’s Lancaster/Hanover Masque (1979-1983). In this course, drawing is not only considered to be a technique or instrument for architectural design but also as an autonomous form of architectural knowledge as well as a concept of critical reflection and innovative thinking.

The relationship between drawing and theory belongs to a long and well-established tradition, according to which drawing is seen as a significant instrument of representation, namely in its double function of constituting architectural knowledge and as an act of creative construction, capable of modifying the real and refocusing it within the dimension of theoretical and practical construction - often with a pronounced ideological content. More specifically, herein, it is advanced that the rigorous graphic investigation of these visionary works can disclose the aspects of their theoretical value that cannot be grasped from simple observation. The act of redrawing the original work (in toto, or part) was the first step to instigate this analysis and was regarded as the basic, and yet decisive procedure to understand how the content of the pictures have been progressively constructed by the respective authors.

Each course participant produced a graphic investigation of one plate of the three case studies. The Carceri’s group analyzed HOW Piranesi actually produced the well-known destabilizing character associated with these architectural images. For the Manhattan Transcripts, the set of architectural operations occurring in the transcripts were first re-enacted, interpreted and subsequently extrapolated and projected in line with the developed theoretical position. The Lancaster Hanover’s group firstly familiarized with the multiplicity of architectural operations devised by Hejduk by focusing in one of the characters of the Masque, and secondly, they provided an analytical reconstruction of one of the three large “X-ray drawings” of the project.

Experiments in Drawing Theory