Defining What An Architect Is Cultural Studies Essay

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Architecture is the art or science of designing structures and their surroundings in keeping with aesthetic, functional or other criteria. It is now understood to encompass the totality of the designed environment, including buildings, urban spaces and landscape. Architecture relies on cultural, psychological and symbolic as well as spatial, functional, structural and other interpretations to create the built environment.

Defining what an architect is

The architect was defined from the Greek architektōn equalling "master builder", from archi meaning chief or leader, plus tektōn, meaning builder or carpenter. [1] The original meaning of what an architect is has lost its definition in the profession of today.

Define what an Architect is to me (Luke Definition)

An architect, to me, is a problem solver and achieves this through manipulating various skills and tools to design, create, install, or envision, well conceived solutions. An architect calls on history, in-depth research, drawing skills, model making, and critical and analytical thinking to resolve given problems. This is when an architect implements their self derived design process to solve the problem at hand. It is because of this belief that an architect is thus a craftsman, artist, master builder, and a jack-of-all-trades, all rolled up into one being. An architect Lives, Breathes, Sleeps, Eats architecture.

"Technology is killing the Architect, and thus we are no longer the Master Builder" (subtitle)

Architecture to me is a hands-on, practical profession. It is about creating and designing buildings for everyone to experience and enjoy. For me the architect has lost touch with what it means to be a true architect, and what it is to create and design as the master builder. The architect is no longer the master builder of yester year and in this technological age, the computer is at the crux of our demise. A strong percentage of architects today, and future architects in the making, have lost touch with what it is to be the master builder. We have lost the art and discipline to draw and make - through physical models - and in turn think architecture. Thus this is why I believe technology is killing the architect as we know it.

History has informed us that architects are in fact master builders. This is reflected in every aspect of the built environment that surrounds us today. Architects have created and designed not only buildings to living in or gather at, but have created landscapes, art works, sculptures, cars, chairs, infrastructure, entire cities and environments. We have even envisaged possible futures of human existence through decades of being able to draw and record such thoughts.

Technology in the profession today has lead to architecture becoming broken down into specialised divisions. Architects today are either a design architect, project architect, urban architect, access architect, landscape architect, parametric architect, biomimicry architect, but not just an architect. We are no longer having a sound understanding of all the fundaments of all subjects around us and in turn applying this to the design process. Technology has driven a wedge between the connection of the architect as the co-ordinator and master builder, rendering us to become a specialised occupation rather than a greater master of architecture as a whole. I believe by refocusing our praxis on hand drawing and model making that we can redeem some connection to what it is to be a true architect, and once again the master builder.

This book will Refocus drawing and the making of physical models back into the architect's discipline of designing, and remove the dependence on the computer from their repertoire. Refocus ensures that drawing through the hand and physical model making are the first and main tools of the architect; they will outlast and not be superseded by the computer and technology of tomorrow; Refocus the senses and human body back into design; re-involve the emotion, feeling, understanding, materiality, aesthetics, function, space, form, and so on, back into architectural design; and Refocus for the next generation of architects, that sketching and free hand drawing in design studios is the key to true architectural exploration.

IMAGERY Popup in book: Terminator killing Le Corbusier/Gehry/Frank LW/Siza/Mies/Kahn etc

= technology versus master builders

The heart of architectural design comes from drawing and making. Drawing and making is the architect imparting their body and soul into the design. Emotion, feeling, understanding and sensibility are given to a design through the mediums of hand drawing and physical modeling. The connection between architect with hand drawing and physical modeling, allows for both a physical and emotional connection with the design process. This physical and emotional connection is lost when it comes to the use of computers and technology. The mouse and virtual world with in the computer screen detach us from the real world, creating a barrier, distracting us form the full potentiality of the design process and its development.

At this point in time I would like to make clear that I am not against computers altogether. I understand their complete importance in the documentation phase and running of an architectural business as very significant. My architecture is refocusing hand drawing and physical modeling back into the design phase and development of architecture, and computers aren't too be used till final design phase leading into documentation at the earliest. I would also argue that physical modeling can play a role all the way up to the construction phase of a project and will engage in this idea later in the book.

Architecture as Drawing (Subtitle)

This book for me, refocus the connection between drawing and architecture and reveals the power it holds in the design process and life of architecture as a greater machine. Drawing develops the fusion between hand, eye and mind that is imperative to all architects. Drawing starts the exploration process of each project and the unforseen journey ahead. Drawing for me brings emotion, feeling and value into ones design work, and helps assert meaning.

"As the figure is scaled to the measure of the page, other questions of space - and the making and marking of space - begin to assert themselves" [2] By drawing and physical doing architecture you think beyond the immediate task. Drawing starts to address the experience of space and depth, movement and pause, formal and informal, static and dynamic, directional and transitional play, forming the architecture in front of our eyes. When using the computer aided design (CAD) though, these meanings and connections are obscured and the physical relationship between the body that imparts these meanings and experiences is lost.

Free hand drawing is imperative for my practice to recognize and value divergence. Hand drawing allows for a sense of divergence to occur that empowers architecture, were as CAD provides more of an instructing process. The free hand sketch is "thought extended through the fingertips. Strands of thought appear as marks on a field of paper: the eye perceives the embryonic image; the thinking/marking process takes place, the drawing emerges." [3] Sue Ferguson Gussow in her book Architects Draw reinforces my belief that drawing involves emotion and feeling, imparting this into the design and its associated connections. The computer mouse removes such ability to free hand sketch, and even with the ability to replicate hand drawing lines these days with certain programs, the reading of such drawings still lacks the emotion and feeling of a true hand sketch.

Architecture is built upon other architecture. For centuries architects have learned from and celebrated their predecessors and peers across history. Drawing has been the very means of this research and exploration of architectural history to in from the future of the practice. Drawing is a means for me to investigate, explore, unveil and interpret a process of diagramming; programming; integrating architectural tectonics; understanding spatial composition; to impart material effects and create atmosphere; envision scale and proportion as a means of connecting architecture; and assist in designing my architecture to perform and interact with human existence on a greater scale. If you were to try and learn the same processes through CAD or associated technology one would become overwhelmed with the difficulties and disconnection that arises compared to the free flow, unrestricted nature and process of drawing, that requires no prior knowledge or certain level of accuracy or precision that CAD and other architectural software requires.

In the work of architects such as Francois de Menil, Morris & Sato, Reiser + Umemoto, Peter Lynch, Pablo Castro of OBRA, and Karen Bausman, the relationship between hand drawing and the mind is seamless. While several use drawing for representation and presentation, such as Bausman, Lynch and

Reiser + Umemoto, they all use drawing as the means to express and clarify their individual thoughts. For example, in the practice of Reiser + Umemoto drawing serves both as generative and regenerative process. In OBRAs many sketchbooks, myriad ideas are explored in an array of drawing mediums, water colour, pencil, pen, ink and markers. [4] 

POSSIBLE QUOTE ON PAGE IN BOOK - Drawing = Observation

"Drawing opened my eyes to simple observation. Careful examination of the forms and spaces, shaped by time, use, and natural forces often reveals something much richer than anything I could have constructed just by thinking." Student of architecture Anne Romme

QUOTE to start next part

"The business of architecture is to establish emotional relationships by means of raw materials. Architecture goes beyond utilitarian needs.

Architecture is a plastic thing.

The spirit of order, a unity of intention.

The sense of relationships; architecture deals with quantities.

Passion can create drama out of inert stone."

Le Corbusier (1923)

In architecture we are trained to think laterally and creatively, to challenge perceived norms and the status quo, asking the 'what if' questions. I believe that if the industry refocused on drawing and making without the involvement of technology we can emerge from this period of unease in the profession with a strong and forward approach to future architecture once again.

By refocusing on drawing as the essential architectural tool and not the computer - which is the tool of choice today amongst majority of architects and students alike - we can reopen our eyes and mind to architectural exploration. Drawing records what we have seen, thought and found to be significant, forcing us to look in a way that no other medium does, as your mind has to work out what it is drawing.

Unlike CAD or other architectural programs, drawing selectivity tracks your journey in time and space. The very act of drawing allows for one to see things differently and more acutely, developing hand, eye, mind connections that become distorted by the computer. Drawing for me becomes the experimental and informative component of architecture, revealing an abundant of things given time and place.

The key power of the hand drawn line I feel is the qualities and characteristics that a computer will find difficult to replicate. The hand drawn line is imbued with feeling and knowledge that is immediate and unique, planned and spontaneous, in one instance. In the end the computer can only go as a far as it is programmed to.

A focal point of refocusing drawing in architectural practice evolves from the notion that drawing makes it a lot easier to enter into a discussion or dialogue with other s of the design discipline. In a design team or practice this is critical, and this should be developed throughout architectural studies from the outset. Bringing drawing to the discussion means you can think with a line and explore.

QUOTE on page

"Not a day without a line drawn" Pliny the Elder, from undergraduate design studies

Through drawing you make selections, choosing what to draw and hence what your mind is to focus on. Through this focusing of the mind we as architects are allowed to investigate and explore at a different level compared to the functioning of CAD, calling on research, self reflection, motivation and flexibility.

"Architecture is an act of love, not a stage set. It is the power of invention, of creation which allows man to give the best that is in him to bring joy to others" Le Corbusier (1961)

Drawing allows me to understand context. A drawing reveals an understanding and knowledge for a site, allowing feeling and sense of aspect and scale to be achieved. This is why hand drawing unlocks a different creative process that CAD can't achieve. The relationship between hand, eye, and mind is very different to the one that exists between computer mouse and mind. In hand drawing, your interests, tastes, individuality and visions are reflected in the image emerging on the page. But the use of technology such as CAD can lose scale, readability, hierarchy, metaphor, or design objective, rendering such reflections distorted. [5] 

Drawing and Model Making, The Nuts and Bolts of Architecture (Subtitle)


"An architect knows something about everything. An engineer knows everything about one thing. An architect is a generalist, not a specialist - the conductor of a symphony, not a virtuoso who plays every instrument perfectly." Matthew Frederick (2005) [6] 

The ability to draw and make models ensures we as architects have an understanding of how things work and are put together, enabling us to design and have control. By refocusing an importance on hand drawing or physical model making we can have more concern for detailing that helps tell the story of a building, makes it look really simple, and in turn amazes and intrigue the general population. I strongly believe that Australian architects need to revisit the workings of Glenn Murcutt and see the craftsmanship that is explored through drawings and modelling of his unique building designs. For me this is true architecture and is what being a master builder is really about in this profession.

By refocusing hand drawing and physical model making in the designing of architecture, we are training ourselves to be more confident in exploring processes that we make us a great architect. I strongly believe model making assists in the exploration of transformation, which could be peeling, cutting, layering, twisting, bending, disintegrating, or perforating. The physical action of doing these transformations by hand leaves an impression that can't be mastered by the computer and not look sterile or artificial.

For me model making plays a big role informing structure - the law of to a certain degree - that the computer can only really visual represent in the unrealistic virtual world.


"it is the pervading law of all things organic and , and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things super human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law." Louis Sullivan

Model making enables me to get a good working knowledge and understanding of structure, enabling me to design more economically and dramatically. Through modelling beauty, proportion, and structure are inextricably linked and can be largely investigated and explored in real life. A BIM, Rhino®, or Sketchup® model, doesn't possess tactility, a real sense of scale, or truly represent how it may be constructed(in the design phase). The building of a physical model helps explore construction and its process to create and investigate the design potentiality that may exist in a design that very rarely may be picked up one through a computer generated modelling process. Furthermore by sketching models you can start to look at elements, scale, and distances, horning in on structural detailing as an essential component of the architectural design exploration.

Architecture as Making Models (Subtitle)

History of Models fold out insert + images to match

History of the Model

During Egyptian and Greco roman times, architectural models were made primarily as symbols. In the middle ages with the advent of the cathedrals, masons would move through the countryside carrying models of their particular expertise such as arch building. During the renaissance, models were used as means to attract the support of patrons (as in the case of the Domo in Florence Italy). As architectural education became dominated by beaux arts training, models were supplanted almost completely by drawing. Architecture was conceived in large part as elevation and plan studies, with three dimensional media having little relevance. However by the late 1800s, architects such as Antonio Gaudi began using models as means to explore structural ideas and develop an architectural language. By the turn of the century, the seeds of modern architecture had begun to take root. With it came a perspective that looked at architecture as the experience of movement through space. Orthographic and perspective drawing were recognized to be limited exploration methods, giving rise to the model as a design tool. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bauhaus and architects such as le Corbusier elevated the use of modelling to an integral component of architectural education and practice. During the 1950s modernism embodied form by translating highly reductive designs into one or two simple platonic solids (cube, cylinder, etc). With this shift, beyond providing a means of apprehending scale and massing, the models role began to wane. As the hegemony of corporate modernism was fractured in the 1970s, spatial exploration followed a number of new branches and the model regained its position as a powerful tool for exploration. In the early 1990s, the model's role was challenged by a shift in technology. At this point, it was suggested that CAD and Modelling programs could substitute digital simulations for all experiences.

While many of the advantages offered by digital media did prove to offer positive benefits, the condition of removal inherent to the virtual experience could not be easily overcome. In reaction to the problem of removal, Ben Damon, an architect with Morphosis (a pioneering office in rapid prototyping), responds to the idea of a completely digital modelling environment by stating, "Physical models will never go away." He goes on to add that the immediacy and direct relationship offered by the physical model play a vital role in design development. Similar sentiments are echoed by James Glymph with Frank Gehry partners LLP. In regard to digital modelling, Mr. Glymph points out that "it would be a serious mistake to think it could replace models and drawing entirely." With these realizations has come a resurgence of interest in traditional physical models and the introduction of rapid prototype models aimed at reconnecting digital and physical design methods. [7] 

The role of physical model making in practice is slipping to the way side in favour of computer generated modelling, and I believe this is impacting on us as architects to become true master builders like our predecessors.

Thinking differently comes out of model making. Everyone has a unique way of doing things and therefore, when using laser cutting, prototyping, or other 3D modelling techniques, the difference is minimal, and you become just another one of the sheep.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." Eva May Brown

Computer generated models such as BIM or Rhino, can lose scale, context, readability, hierarchy, metaphor, or design objective. A hands-on approach to modelling and designing equals inspiring and constantly evolving ideas and knowledge. The sketch model for me is critical in sparking originality out of the evolution of knowledge, investigation, experimentation and obsessive commitment to architecture.

In a recent book review and exploration of Chicago based architecture firm Studio Gang Architects. I discovered a similar practice that is aim to refocus architecture on making and doing architecture. Their first book Reveal: Studio Gang Architects, reveals the power of the physical model in the design process across a selection of projects. What I strongly connected with was a particular appealing transcript collective by Mark Schendel, Principle at Studio Gang Architects, entitled "Making is Thinking", that looks at the overuse and misuse of laser cut modelling and reliance on digital technology to represent concepts. The transcript highlights the lost art of physical model making and hand sketching, and invigorates the idea that these techniques are core architectural tools that reveal concept and schematic design phases; spatial ideas and scale; materiality and construction.


In my own design work, model making allows me to understand context. By refocusing model making in practice we reveal an understanding and knowledge for a site, allowing feeling, a sense of aspect, and scale to be achieved. A physical context model allows me to insert an architectural proposition and gather a sense and feeling at a whole different level. Computer generated models cannot give the feeling of a physical, tactile, real time model in front of you, and in turn the true value of the design or its meaning.

Technology such as CAD can lose scale, readability, hierarchy, metaphor, design objective, etc.

model making allow me to understand context. making reveals an understanding and knowledge for a site, allowing feeling and sense of aspect and scale to be achieved. A context model allows me to insert my architectural proposition and gather a sense and feeling at a whole different level.

Physical model making is important for testing and exploring a design. Space and form are common functions explored. Different media experimentation can drive a design to new heights or become a record for later exploration or investigation in practice. Exploring casting, carving, laminating and weaving to suggest a few in any design model can have numerous potentialities. By exploring different media at different scale you will begin to engage in the creative process and allow yourself to explore architectural potential, in terms of space, form, structure and materiality.

Model making is an essential part of many architects design process and Frank Gehry is one of the leaders in this.

"I approach each building as a sculptural object, a spatial container, a space with light and air, a response to context and appropriateness of feeling and spirit. To this container, this sculpture, the user brings his baggage, his program, and interacts with it to accommodate his needs. If he can't do that, I've failed." Frank Gehry in Contemporary Architects 1980

Quote: reference to modern day laser cut model/3D modelling

"There is hope in honest error, none in icy perfections of the mere stylist."

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Models are essential to the generation of ideas and serve as vehicles for refinement in the design process. They allow of investigation, and are always open to interpretation.

Book could focus on the types of models used in the industry and the value and design facilitation they provide compared to digital models. The act of making the model is the important part for an architect.

Primary Models - Sketch, diagram, concept, massing, solid void, development, presentation

Secondary models - Site Contour, site context, interior, section, facade, structure, detail model

Connecting of materials through model making reflects on the thinking of how your design will actually go together. Assists exploring detailing, tectonics and materiality of your design

As a general rule of thumb if you can't model it, it can't be built by a builder in the real world.

Digression occurs through model making

Recycling of models / reuse in future projects - spin off designs - digital designs are limited - models sitting around the office are interpreted by others differently and can spark or resolve ideas in current projects

Architecture and Technology Its Inevitable (Subtitle)

Source - Architecture Australia - September 2012 article

Practice - Using technology to build and shape our future by Scott Osborne, CEO Total Synergy

Article discusses technology as assistance to business of architecture and in turn is shaping the way architecture is conducted as a whole. Technology allows for architecture to be done on the run, at home, on the plane, in the train, on site and on holidays.

Is a bad idea for architects to be able to do architecture 24/7, as this impacts on reflection time to consume the architectural knowledge and understanding? This also impacts on health of living and a lifestyle that families struggle to manage with.

In a Computer orientated age, drawing skills and model making are the skills that professional directors are looking for in possible employees and future architects. They have come to except they can use computers and have a certain level of competency, but do they still have the skills to draw and make that quick sketch model to represent an idea.

Examples & Case Studies (Intertwined throughout writing to breakup text)

The brick arch theory = model making, roman times to present day

Luke constructing his chair = chair backrest angle + curve in seat

Lukes Sketch model of Le Corbusier Quote "Passion can create drama out of inert stone"

Walking through the supermarket = model making inspiration everywhere = architecture exploration

Observing nature = architectural thought = transformed into built environment

Studio Gang Architects = numerous examples from Reveal, deconstruct making is thinking transcript

Antonio Gaudi = Sagrada Familia is modelled 1:1 to understand the design and construction for final building.