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HAND DRAWING IN ARCHITECTURAL EDUCATION: The Pros And Cons

Hand drawing in architectural education is a topics frequently debated in the field. Since architecture itself is considered both an art and a science, it is intriguing to think that the topic debates center more on whether the technology of a pencil is as good as or better than the computer software programs now available.

With this in mind, it helps to look at what an architectural drawing offers. Whether created by hand or with a CAD editor, the goal of a rendering is to represent on a flat plan, or in 2-dimensions, something that is actually 3-dimensional. A successful drawing will convincingly capture the depth of the physical world.

Since both approaches produce good results, why is there an educational issue? One value of direct drawing is that it helps a student to learn how to accurately translate angles, spaces, and curves. Acquiring an embodied knowledge of projection techniques, like perspective, allows a learner to also better "see" the problem at hand and conceptualize what some solutions are better than others.

Computer advocates are apt to speak about the speed and accuracy of their favored approach. The hand drawer, however, may respond that if you are unable to get the computer to produce the line you want, it is not the "right" tool. Moreover, the slowness of drawing provides an opportunity for the student to develop a deeper acquaintance with the knowledge he is she is hoping to acquire.

When drawing with a pencil, one can also focus on the work itself. There are no printing problems to distract the architectural student. Since there is also no software to learn, the knowledge will not become outdated when an update is issued to the program.

The continued debate about how to teach hand drawing in architectural schools shows that while publications have forecast a new technologically driven approach to architectural education, much can also be said about the need for the kind of advance planning and multifaceted thinking process one learns through a course that teaches the student how to look and translate with traditional tools.

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