The Draftery, a printed platform to "discuss the role of architectural drawing today", brings together a fascinating collection of images and words in a publication on three distinct platforms. Figures, Captions and Archive facilitate a multi-disciplinary conversation about how drawings are made and their role in the built environment. Now approaching their third anniversary, how far have they come and where is the project headed?
January 2013 saw the re-launch of The Draftery and the total reconstruction of the project. Their crisp publications now have a strong editorial thread which compliments the carefully curated collections of architectural drawings. Seeking to "demonstrate that drawing, more than mere representation, is a method of acting in the world", good drawings provide a moment of visual solice in a fast paced profession.
According to the editors, "the community and potential discourse among contemporaneous practitioners broadens, deepens, and has the potential to direct architecture as a discipline. Our mission is to provide a limited context and pointed commentary on the ways in which drawings engage the world through their making - to dispel the belief that drawing is dead."
Having recently re-released Fig.01 in celebration of their third anniversary, the publication is heading in a new, "more subtle", direction. When the project originally launched in 2011, the self-published venture faced the challenges that most small enterprises often do. They have streamlined their publication into a print-on-demand and digital service, allowing readers the option to read and explore the drawings either on screen or page.
Curated around a specific theme, each Figure provides "a focused context in which to consider the drawings of a small number of drafters who offer personal statements about the reasoning behind their drawing process." Each edition opens with an essay to present a specific context, after which follows an unannotated series of drawings that respond to this context with their techniques, processes, and visual rhetoric. "While we open with words, we let the drawings speak for themselves."
The latest incarnation, Fig.03, contains an intriguing opening essay by Carl Lostritto which focuses on the correlations between hand and computer drafting and modelling. Raising interesting questions about the flexibility of CAD, it is accompanied by a series of drawings which demonstrate the power of computer drawn designs in the hands of a skilled drafter. This theme, carried through the entire Figure, is highlighted by some truly exceptional drawings and sketches.
Archive + Captions
The Draftery’s Archive is a digital repository of contemporary drawings by compiling "the work of individual drafters alongside, the technical specifications of their drawings, and their personal rhetoric." Captions is a digital publication which "invites guest critics from various disciplinary backgrounds to select and comment on drawings from the Archive." Each Caption takes a small selection of drawings out of context and makes a detailed analysis of the use of visual and rhetorical techniques.
The Draftery believes that drawing, in any form and by any method, matters. It is "through drawing - the architect’s means of self-reflexive and critical action - that the discipline of architecture will act and remain relevant." They believe that although building may be able to take place without architecture, "architecture is only a discipline because of drawing."
"Drawings are not innocent: they protect and foreground a range of biases and conceits, and patrol and occasionally transgress ethical, political, and representational terrains. Drawings can play substantial roles in the generative practices of design and in the technical description of material and form, but they can also be deceitful and uncompromising accomplices that favor a complacency of fancy, visual delight, and seduction (which at times is a useful role of drawing) over insightful and revelatory discoveries." - Perry Kulper