The Book

Drawing a building is a way of remembering it properly. To draw you have to look very hard and I think it is in the looking itself that the building is impressed upon the mind. Often I measure it and made a plan, putting the dimensions on the drawing, because I know from experience that only by doing that can I understand what I’m looking at.

– Caroline Mauduit, An Architect in Italy


The intention of this book is to help students develop an appreciation for observation and learning about the designed environment through freehand drawing. By observing I mean, as Caroline Mauduit notes, that we consider the designed, and by extension, the natural environment carefully with a critical and inquisitive eye. Carefulness is vital in reaching below the surface and beyond what is literal. Unlike the casual glance or even the latently passive photograph, even the fastest, literal drawing is an inherently careful and active engagement. Drawing is a way of digesting the environment in order to come away with a greater understanding of how the environment might have been formed, what it contributes or does not contribute and what lessons might be imbedded in it.

An essential aspect of this book is the use of freehand drawing. Freehand drawing is helpful because, when all is said and done, the hand is connected to our minds and is both accurate and inaccurate. The hand is intrinsically related to who we are. The hand and its preceding iterations such as ganglia, tentacles or other prehensile limbs shape who, what and how we think. The drawing hand is linked with the least intermediary processes or devices to the world itself. The freehand drawing is as close as we can get to the thing itself without building. Just as the hand drawing is relatively unmitigated, the hand can never be machine-like but at the same time it can be accurate enough in recording the world beyond pure impression. The slip of the finger, the varied weight of a line or the wiggle resulting from too much coffee allows the building to remain alive.

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