Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew

Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew

Drawings and visualizations are architecture in their own right. As means to reconsider what we see or what could be, drawing styles are as diverse as the mediums through which they are produced. For transparent drawings, observation and imagination go hand in hand. Not only does this unique style require critical examination, but also an ability to conceptualize new possibilities.

Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew - Image 3 of 11
Courtesy of Alex Hogrefe

By definition, transparent drawings make structures and objects lying beyond and behind more clearly seen. The term transparency involves the optical or observational notions of showing or seeing through. But it also implies spatial order through transparent planes overlapping each other. In other words, space and form are read as layered and superimposed. As Kurt Ofer, founder of Transparent Drawing notes, when you draw transparently you gain a greater understanding of an object. "When you draw transparently you simultaneously understand the exterior form and the interior space." At the heart of this work is the relationship between representation and analytical drawing methods.

Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew - Image 8 of 11
Courtesy of Kurt Ofer

For professional architectural visualizer Alex Hogrefe, he was looking at different ways to portray the relationship between the structure and spaces within his designs. His work is a combination of rendering and experimentation that relies on transparency and opacity. His work focuses on what he calls X-Ray Illustrations. As he notes, he's drawn to these types of illustrations because of the way they reveal scale, tectonics, and the relationship of inside to outside.


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Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew - Image 2 of 11
Courtesy of Alex Hogrefe

Daniel Castor, Founder of Castor Architecture, has also been recognized for his work exploring transparent drawing methods. The Netherlands Architecture Institute created an exhibition of his drawings and published the book Drawing Berlage’s Exchange, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles mounted an exhibition of his drawings entitled A Structure Revealed: The Amsterdam Stock Exchange. In 1997, he was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture for a year of research at the American Academy in Rome. His work, a spatial analysis of Bramante’s Tempietto, showcases some of the potentials and beauty of transparent drawing ideas.

Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew - Image 11 of 11
Courtesy of Daniel Castor

Ofer offers a further explanation, stating that, "Drawing transparently lets us see and understand the complete object or enclosure, all at once. Transparent Drawing promotes a holistic understanding of a volume. We use drawings that are transparent to re-animate our human understanding of how the world works, and the simple act of producing drawings in which all sides of an object are resolved is at the heart of the theory. The theory operates at the intersection of the visual and literary components of our culture." Not only does this drawing style create poetic illustrations with their own aesthetic quality, but they are also intimately tied to processes of design.

Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew - Image 7 of 11
Courtesy of Kurt Ofer

Transparent drawings hold their own architectural meaning. They are a way of seeing and uncovering built and natural environments, but also producing new architecture. Just as we discover the world around us from experiences that shape who we are, so too can we find analogous relationships between drawing and designing. When understanding the evolution of architectural visualization, transparent drawings give us a deeper way to ideate, perceive and create anew. 

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: The Future of Architectural Visualizations, proudly presented by Enscape, the most intuitive real-time rendering and virtual reality plugin for Revit, SketchUp, Rhino, Archicad, and Vectorworks. Enscape plugs directly into your modeling software, giving you an integrated visualization and design workflow.

Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our ArchDaily topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.


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Cite: Eric Baldwin. "Transparent Drawings: Visualizing Architecture Anew" 14 Apr 2022. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/980111/transparent-drawings-visualizing-architecture-anew> ISSN 0719-8884

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