History of Architectural Representations

Sabu Francis

About the Author
Sabu Francis is an architect, educator and IT professional. A graduate of IIT Kharagpur (B. Arch-Honors. 1984), he has been actively involved in architectural practice, research, writing, teaching and developing software for the architecture community. SabuFrancis got the 1991 special JIIA award for architectural research. His work was used in two research projects with IIT Bombay. He has participated in 4 international conferences and has conducted numerous workshops on the use of computers in architecture. His new company, Syncspace, is coming up with innovative solutions for architecture and the Internet. He has been an advocate of open source in architecture and has a website, www.teamtad.com dedicated to it.


“When you have a hammer, all problems look like a nail” – Abraham Maslow. It applies to architects too: The usage of architectural drawings is so prevalent among architects that we sometimes tend to think that is all that is needed to solve the problems of designing: It is a convenient hammer to drive all nails. It is important to understand the history of building representation. Historically, drawings such as the one we are taught to make, came to us to solve the constructional aspects of our works. Not really for designing. We, architects, are taught in schools to delineate only what is built and leave what is not built (i.e. spaces) as a by-product of what is built. So, traditionally, we leave dark lines where we cut through solid matter and leave it to the viewer to interpret the spaces. Architectural representation exhibits a “figure-ground” illusion, where both the figure and the ground are important. This presentation clarifies that duality and puts things in a historical perspective on what needs to be represented during an architectural design process. The usage of the tools of designing, namely CAD/BIM/whatever should be re-examined carefully, or else some important issues that require volume calculations of the spaces (such as heat load calculations, acoustic analysis, etc.) become more difficult.

The full presentation can be downloaded by clicking HERE.

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