Today I delivered a collage of sketches of a recently completed bungalow to a client. Although it was not as striking as a painting at a glance, I was glad my client and his wife were suitably impressed with my housewarming gift. It consisted of sketches detailing exploratory ideas that were conceived and refined during a design process that spanned more than 4 years.
Most contractors display a healthy suspicion when they are presented with sketches, and the contractor for this bungalow was no exception. This was especially true since they did not have experience with such a bespoke design for this particular house. In fact, many of the sketches reminded me of the resistance from the builders with their usual “it cannot be done...”, ”no one would do it that way”. Now that the project has been successfully completed, we laugh off what was once a bitter experience as a sweet memory.
I remember many laments about how students in architecture must learn to sketch, drawing by hand before using the computer. I tend to advise the students to look at it pragmatically - the use of computer software is inevitable, as it allows the architect to focus on the design by efficiently dealing with menial tasks. However, nothing can replace the immediacy from our mind to our hands when sketching. The emotion embedded in the sketch is irreplaceable; the design process is recorded and developed in the layers of mistakes and corrections. Apart from being used as a working detail, every sketch serves as a vestigial imprint of the project. In a way, putting this collage together is definitely a nostalgic and educational experience. I definitely will continue to enjoy sketching. It is the best way to explore new ideas, which interests me the most in my work.