From Concept to Materiality: Re-examining Architectural Ideas Through Drawings

Written by: Shydale James,
A sketch by College of Architecture and Design alum John Ferns '16

From organizational principals to programmatic questions and spatial strategies, there are many issues that get resolved from the basis of architectural design.

Associate Professor of Architecture Maria Hurtado de Mendoza explains the relationship between the conceptual approach of a project and its materiality in “Clinical: An Architecture of Variation with Repetition.”  

The book highlights three health care centers (built by Hurtado de Mendoza’s firm studio.entresitio in Madrid) that feature one identical formal structure but are perceived as distinct. Constructing the same building three times, she says, presents a pedagogical opportunity to reflect on certain disciplinary questions of architecture.

“Drawings are a very powerful means of communication for architecture; they convey an idea,” explained Hurtado de Mendoza, who says she remembers drawings the same way she recalls faces, poems and pictures. “The graphic word disseminates a very specific type of knowledge that the written word is sometimes not able to convey. It is interesting to put both languages in parallel to extract conclusions from the interaction of both.”

The drawings in the book go beyond the specifics of the projects and aim to be part of a larger conversation about tectonics and method in architectural design, which provoke new ideas and new investigations in the never-ending questioning and reconfiguration of architectural space.

“This set of architectural ideas presented in a graphic manner doesn’t want to compete nor to confront the discursive knowledge about architecture,” she said. “It aims, however, to be considered at the same level in the understanding and construction of the [multifaceted] panorama of architecture. The time when thinking through drawings was considered just a formal issue is definitely over.”