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?