Among all the statements attributed to Antoni Gaudí, there is one particularly interesting one: «The wisdom of the angels,» he said, «consists in seeing directly the issues of space without going through the plan. This case gives a good idea of the greatness and misery of architectural drawing. It seems evident, on the one hand, that architecture, as it has been understood throughout history, has had in drawing an instrument as essential as construction itself.
Generally speaking, a building of a certain complexity is inconceivable without a more or less schematic representation, without a project. On the other hand, this imperative need for every idea to pass through the plan has been experienced as a tragic limitation by some brilliant architects: we know that Borromini made extensive use of wax models; Gaudí experimented with suspended funicular structures; Le Corbusier made sequential presentations of his spaces, as in a film storyboard.
But even these genius experimenters never dreamed of dispensing with plotting their ideas on paper. Some aspects of architectural design are inseparable from the problems of drawing in general. As regards the representation of the existing, and even its partial analysis, photography has, for more than a century, gained considerable importance. This concerns all sciences, from biology to astronomy, and not only the history of architecture.
However, when it comes to conceiving what does not yet exist, the hand that creates images remains irreplaceable. It should not be forgotten, then, that drawing has always been an indispensable scientific tool and a means of artistic expression. Perhaps nowhere else as in architecture have these two dimensions converged in such an evident way.
I invite everyone to read Matías’ post on the topic of the day.