November 17 2020

Confronting the Conventions of Customary Practice

In the context of a traditional building process, technical drawings possess an ephemeral quality; they pose as artifacts of reference upon facing a building’s realization. However true that may be, Ziger|Snead designer Ty Skeiky firmly believes in the visionary qualities of drawing. His undergraduate thesis, Making the Break & Breaking the Break Line, strives to examine the conventions of architectural drawing in such a way that challenges how they are applied to customary practice.

Conventions can be distilled into two essential components: Annotative devices – or just devices for the sake of brevity – and content. Devices are commonly known as the descriptors that communicate design intent such as text, symbols, and digits; they act as portals and thresholds, allowing the reader to make leaps across space. Content on the other hand possesses illustrative qualities: form, material, and depth.

While both components are mutually dependent, only content seems to resonate with readers as it bears a strong resemblance to a realized building. This observation prompted an alternative reality in which neither component competes to take precedence over one another; devices provide new breeding grounds for content, and vice versa.

What does this have to do with customary practice? Practice exists in an intermediate condition. In other words, the architect works to orchestrate space within the realm of representation. By contrast, Ty’s proposed speculation seeks to treat drawing as a world in which representation becomes reality, unconstrained by the pressure to negotiate with reality itself.

Making the Break & Breaking the Break Line is featured in Margaret Fletcher’s latest publication, Visual Communication for Architects and Designers. The book includes 750 graphical examples by designers around the globe.

About Fletcher (from the author’s publication): “Margaret Fletcher is an associate professor of architecture at the College of Architecture, Design and Construction in Auburn, Alabama, USA. She is the author of the companion book, Constructing the Persuasive Portfolio.”

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