Robert Coutts        2020

The Art of Hand Made v The Machine Made

The role of the architectural drawing has undergone significant changes throughout the course of history. This work will look more closely at the role of the architectural render and the value of the hand-made versus the machine made.


Many architects use computers for “drawing” everything: initial design studies, diagrams, three-dimensional views, and construction details. Using advanced computer software, computer drawings can now be made to deceive the client to believe they are hand-drawn sketches. However, there may be risks in abandoning the pencil and relying so completely on the computer.


Drawing as a tool in architectural practice is first used to communicate, either with oneself or with others. Secondly, it is a device for exploring concepts, experimenting with designs, and eventually developing detailed drawings such as plans or sections (Dee, 2008). In the early design stages, CAD software can produce computer generated images (CGI) that make an initial design idea appear more developed, refined, and resolved than it really is. Before CAD, concepts drawn by hand often were sketchy and loosely explained with messy or wavy lines laid down by soft pencils, felt-tip pens or charcoal. “The art and technique of manual drawing ensured that schematic ideas looked schematic.” (Lewis,2011) 


When exploring ideas through drawing, the aspect that is so fascinating in our minds, I believe, is what might be considered as the act of speculation. Because the drawing as an object is generally thought of as, arguably, more undefined than other representational media, it is perhaps more incomplete or open to interpretation. It is this very lack of completion or finality that contributes to its speculative nature. When I see a hand drawing, I can understand that they are just composed of lines of ink while at the same time seeing them express an object, the specificity of graphic communication exists in this fundamental honesty. Although the view depicted is imaginary, the author of the drawing in not trying to deceive the viewer, nor does the viewer feel deceived. (Massironi, 2002)