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Danish Architecture Center: Dirty Dedicated Drawings

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - More than 100 suggestions of how an architectural drawing may be presented are on display at the interesting but not properly guided exhibition Drawing by Drawing at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen. The exhibitions discusses in which way the architect drawing is an art form and shows the drawings produced by 42 architects: CJ Lim, Ben van Berkel, Henning Larsen, Dorte Mandrup, Christine Hawley and Zaha Hadid e.g. connected in a European-American fellowship, which existed largely due to the dynamic and visionary Norwegian architect and professor at the Architect School in Århus, Denmark, Svein Tønsager, who passed away in 2006.

The exhibition gives a subtle knowledge of the ways architects use the drawing or sketch to explore. The drawing is not only an important tool to create and technically understand a building, landscape or a home, but is also an instrument to simply investigate materials, elements in space, movement and light and even the architect’s own ideals and values.

Svein Tønsagers series of large abstract drawings Inner Spaces, depicting a triangular figure, a red dot and sensual black lines in varied positions in relation to one another, is a beautiful examination of shadow, light and movement. And the architects do not only use pen and paper to draw. The New York based architect Michael Sorkin’s piece Urbanagrams shows, how you can ‘draw’ with pieces of wood, steel, little boxes etc. in order to understand materials, textures and the way the space is organized in relation to different rudiments.

There are also examples of how computer animated drawings and drawings by hand might be able to work together on exploring perspectives on city landscapes and even be a comment on society. The extremely detailed series of drawings Food Parliament by the architect CJ Lim (as seen in Photo 1) from Studio 8 Architects & the Bartlett School of Architecture, London, are wonderfully precise and accurate and at the same time a highly distinguished personal expression.

In this way the exhibition naturally also discusses the latest new digital tools, which have changed the way the architects work. It seems clear that the curator and thus the exhibition prefer visualization made by hand drawing. The man-made ‘dirty drawing,’ full of flaws, drips, fingerprints and craziness is nevertheless still the ideal way of repetitive exploring according to Drawing by Drawing. Teacher at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture in New York, Sue Fergusson Gussow’s corporal croquis studies are a rather dull example of dirty drawings.

The exhibition shows varied and exquisite work (as seen in Photo 2) of some of the leading architects today and is an interesting way of understanding and becoming familiar with the way the architect reflects and works. Unfortunately the viewer is not really guided by information alongside the pieces at display, which makes it a bit difficult to enter the topics and objects. But if you have the patience and time it is worthwhile. It becomes clear how drawings can be a tool to create interesting spaces, which again shape people, who again shapes and creates spaces.

Photo Credits

Photo 1: Food Parliament by CJ Lim

Photo 2: Body Architecture by Nat Chard