All architects draw and it is one of the most exhilarating and freeing experiences to explore the world in line and shading. Le Corbusier allegedly preferred drawing to talking. Whilst we accept in the world we operate in, that the language of communication is writing as talking, perhaps we should make a plea for more talk in drawing. Writing in lines may not conform to the mechanics of a standard alphabet and grammar but it can take you to different places. James Brimble speculated what a deeper understanding of drawing might mean.
His breakdown of its structure suggested two apparent counter cultures at work. The culture of ‘informing’ on one hand and ‘evoking’ on the other, in broad terms drawing to explain facts of an idea, object or setting and drawing to stimulate a reaction, emotion or feeling.
His take on the gap between fact and feeling was in fact that they coexist on a common scale bar. That any drawing has both information and sentiment, just in different weightings. We can therefore learn the impact of drawing by assessing each one along this measuring tape of knowledge and spirit.
He tested some of his own and others drawings against this bar. Peter Salter’s were a particular favourite lying to one side of his scale, with his exploded axonometrics evoking the materiality of the intended experience of the building yet revealing at the same time the facts of construction. In contrast an historic drawing by Kirkwood of the plan of the new town of Edinburgh lay to the other side of the scale, with its focus on informing us of the layout, dimension and typology of intended building but yet still evoking the spirit of the life of the setting.
James’s own drawings and model for them captured by Andrea Pansi’s urban studies sought to balance the scale through the montaging composition of multiple subject views in a variation of the classic plan, section, elevation mode. Excitingly, his thoughts on drawings, the idea of a fact to feeling scale bar together with hints at how to usefully depict a scene and issue suggest the opportunity to formalise the structure of drawing as we have done for writings and talking.