July 2, 2018 \ Studio
by Paul Sutton
“One of the enjoyable things about working within architecture is being part of a profession rich in history.”
One of the earlier professions, the role of the architect is said to have begun loosely professionalising in the 16th century, emerging out of the Italian Renaissance. The profession has constantly changed, and is constantly changing to reflect the current role and position of architects in society, as has its norms and conventions.
One of the things that changed significantly in the 20th century and in an increasingly accelerated manner in recent decades is the nature of the drawing tools found in the architect’s studio. Look back at early photographs of architects drawing offices from the and you will find rooms arrayed with freestanding timber drawing boards and men with waistcoats where diversity was found in the variety of moustache styles. Beautiful objects with cast iron or timber frames and counterbalanced weighted articulated drawing arms, these drawing boards are now more typically found for sale as antiques than used as the day to day tool for design and delivery drawings.
These freestanding drawing tools with their purposeful narrow remit were gradually replaced with steel framed flat desks with adjustable desktop drawing boards in the mid-20th century as other norms changed too. These steel framed adjustable drawing boards were gradually replaced with CAD-enabled desktop computers in the 1980s, albeit of a similar size and weight. This lumpen cathode ray era technology permitted a sea change in the design and production of drawings for architects, but remained wired in to the studio environment, as fixed in position as its precursors.
The current technological shift from wired to wireless devices has created the conditions where it is now possible to take your drawing board with you wherever you go. This is facilitating greater agility than the profession has ever known in terms of working practices and we need to fully embrace the flexibility this offers, not least for those who would otherwise find it hard to be in an office on a full-time basis due to other responsibilities. We need to manage this ability to carry data around with us wherever we go, professionally, to ensure the security of our business and our clients information, at the same time as harnessing the potential of this new found agility.