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Jonathan Glancey

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How Architectural Drawing—In All Its Forms—Can Help Us See the World Anew

09:30 - 5 April, 2018
How Architectural Drawing—In All Its Forms—Can Help Us See the World Anew, Renovation of Denggao Village. Image © Xinyuan Cao
Renovation of Denggao Village. Image © Xinyuan Cao

What do architectural drawings do? Convey visual information about the design of buildings. This much is certain. They do much else besides. They can be idiomatic and ideological, they can express the personality of those who make them and by whatever means—charcoal, pencil, pen, or computer program. They can inspire, provoke and radicalize. They might be realistic or the stuff of fantasy. Or, of course, they can instruct those charged with building a three-dimensional representation of what they see on paper or, in recent years, on computer screens. Intelligence visible, they can also be art.

So, judging an open competition of architectural drawings from around the world, like The Architectural Drawing Prize, can only ever be an exercise in open-ended judgment even when these have been sorted into three technical categories: Hand-drawn, Digital, and Hybrid. How do we begin to compare Chris Raven’s intriguing digital analysis of Publicly Accessible Spaces in St Paul’s Cathedral with Xinyuan Cao’s almost fond cross-section through the Renovation of Denggao Village, two commended entries in the Digital Drawings category?

Reconstruct with drawing. Image © Mariapia di Lecce 100. Image © Riza Aliabadi Momentum Mori: A Peckham Hospice Care Home. Image © Jerome Xin Hao Portuguese Street. Image © Anna Budnikova + 9

How Narinder Sagoo And Foster + Partners Are Turning Architectural Preconceptions On Their Head (With A Pencil)

14:45 - 22 September, 2017
How Narinder Sagoo And Foster + Partners Are Turning Architectural Preconceptions On Their Head (With A Pencil), © Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

This short article, written by the author and critic Jonathan Glancey, coincides with the launch of the inaugural Architecture Drawing Prize – a competition curated by the World Architecture Festival, the Sir John Soane's Museum, and Make. The deadline for the award has been extended to September 25, 2017, and successful entries will be exhibited in both London and Berlin.

For architects, says Narinder Sagoo, Head of Design Communications at Foster + Partners, drawings are about story telling. They are also a highly effective way of raising questions about design projects. Although the history of architecture—certainly since the Italian Renaissance—has been mapped by compelling drawings asserting the primacy, and reflecting the glory, of fully resolved buildings, there is another strain of visualisation that has allowed architects to think through projects free of preconceptions.

© Foster + Partners © Foster + Partners © Foster + Partners © Foster + Partners + 8

The Power of Architectural Drawing: The Sketches That Saved St. Mark's

04:00 - 24 August, 2017
The Power of Architectural Drawing: The Sketches That Saved St. Mark's, <a href=“https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Study_of_the_Marble_Inlaying_on_the_Front_of_the_Casa_Loredan.jpg”>Study of the Marble Inlaying on the Front of the Casa Loredan, Venice. Pencil, watercolour, and bodycolour, 32 x 26.7cm</a> (1845) licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of John Ruskin
Study of the Marble Inlaying on the Front of the Casa Loredan, Venice. Pencil, watercolour, and bodycolour, 32 x 26.7cm (1845) licensed under Public Domain. Image Courtesy of John Ruskin

This short essay, written by the author and critic Jonathan Glancey, coincides with the launch of the inaugural Architecture Drawing Prize – a competition curated by the World Architecture Festival, the Sir John Soane's Museum, and Make. The deadline for the award is the 18th September 2017 and successful entries will be exhibited in both London and Berlin.

For John Ruskin, Venetian Gothic design in the guise of polychromatic gasworks in Brentford, ornate factory chimneys in Croydon, glistering gin palaces in Bloomsbury and even the well-meaning Reform Club in Manchester was nothing short of anathema. Even at their risible best, these flamboyant Victorian buildings were idle travesties of the influential 19th Century critic’s beloved Ca’ d’Oro and Palazzo Ducale adorning the Grand Canal.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: Keepsake or Liability?

04:00 - 10 March, 2017
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater: Keepsake or Liability?, H. Mark Weidman Photography/Alamy. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing
H. Mark Weidman Photography/Alamy. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

Asked for his occupation in a court of law, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) replied ‘The world’s greatest architect’. His wife remonstrated with him. ‘I had no choice, Olgivanna’, he told her, ‘I was under oath.’

The Unbuilt Nazi Pantheon: Unpacking Albert Speer's "Volkshalle"

04:00 - 8 March, 2017
The Unbuilt Nazi Pantheon: Unpacking Albert Speer's "Volkshalle", Ullstein Bild/Getty Images. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing
Ullstein Bild/Getty Images. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

According to Albert Speer, Hitler’s ambitious architect and all-too-capable Minister of Armaments and War Production, the final performance by the Berlin Philharmonic before this distinguished orchestra abandoned Berlin in May 1945 opened with Brünnhilde’s last aria—the vengeful valkyrie sings of setting fire to Valhalla—and the finale from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.

San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: Madness or Masterpiece?

12:00 - 6 March, 2017
San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: Madness or Masterpiece? , Adam Eastland/Alamy. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing
Adam Eastland/Alamy. Image Courtesy of Laurence King Publishing

A wayward force of the High Renaissance, Baroque was broken in by Michelangelo in Rome in the sixteenth century before being given full rein by Bernini and Borromini in the seventeenth. Characterized by curves, domes, broken pediments and a gloriously inventive play on classical detailing, at its theatrical zenith it was thrilling architectural opera – far from the chaste and graceful classicism that both preceded it and ousted it in the eighteenth century. Deeply romantic, it also had something of the subversive about it.

Game Changer: Alistair Parvin

00:00 - 9 January, 2014
Game Changer: Alistair Parvin, Parvin’s WikiHouse team shares a floor in London with 00:/ design studio, operating in a space pro- vided by Hub Westminster, a collaborative of creative and social enterprises. Image © Kate Peters via Metropolis Magazine
Parvin’s WikiHouse team shares a floor in London with 00:/ design studio, operating in a space pro- vided by Hub Westminster, a collaborative of creative and social enterprises. Image © Kate Peters via Metropolis Magazine

Metropolis Magazine has unveiled its 4th annual Game Changers - including architects Eric Owen Moss and Alistair Parvin, the co-founder of WikiHouse, an open-sourced platform for architecture. In the following article, Jonathan Glancey profiles Parvin and asks: is WikiHouse a threat to architects? Or "a glimpse into our digital design future"?

I first met WikiHouse cofounder Alastair Parvin—not in the flesh, of course, much less in print—courtesy of YouTube. You can do the same by watching his lecture, “Architecture for the People by the People.” In the video, Parvin explains the WikiHouse concept to the 2013 annual TED conference in Long Beach, California. Looking young and trim in a white shirt and blue jeans, Parvin’s voice is chipper and confident as he delivers his provocative idea to the world.

Given that the 1,600 TED lectures that are currently available online have been viewed more than a billion times, you may have already heard a little about the WikiHouse by now. In case you haven’t, it’s “an open- source construction set,” according to the WikiHouse online collaborative. “The aim is to allow anyone to design, download, and ‘print’ CNC-milled houses and components, which can be assembled with minimal skill or training.”