(A lot has happened since the previous article, and with little time to write, I thought I’d post some sketches of various explorations from the intervening period.)
This sketch is pretty typical of my usual process: Multiple ideas and scales derived simultaneously. This keeps formal and material explorations coordinated and sensitive to the other.
First, in the upper left corner, there are two circles bisected by lines. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the left-most line is a simple dot-dash, the architectural symbol for center line. This represents the figural core of a thing, essentially its idealogical center. You can’t actually see the center of a material, but we humans like to align materials by their center of being.
The second line, to the right of the first, is a double dot-dashed line. This is the symbol for property line, and represents the edge of a form, space, or property. We can touch this face and use it to define how big things are and when they touch.
Farther right, just past the middle of the sketch, you’ll see these two line types expounded in a simple grid with two rectangular columns. See how these two line types are used? The center line (in the middle!) bisects the two columns while their edges are defined by the property line type.
Architecture is a constant play of idealogical alignment and physical material alignment. Our mind perceives beauty when forms are visually aligned. A series of exposed columns is aligned by their centers along a idealogical grid line, as in a Greek arcade or medieval cathedral nave.
But columns are rarely all the same size. Lower ones are bigger and upper ones smaller. Interior or exterior columns often differ in size. And most steel H columns have a major and minor axis which rotate depending on how they resist the building’s bending in various directions. Simply aligning these can be difficult, but it becomes exponentially more difficult when attaching facades.
In this sketch, I was discussing a wood post-and-beam house and how its enclosure might work. You can even see some large scale spacial exploration within the same grid in the right-most portion of the sketch.
Finally, the lower left is a detailed look at the actual materials. This is a concrete footing pier for the timber frame above. A steel “T” connects the wood post above to this foundation form below.
Although a little series of exploration sketches like this might take just a minute or two, they may make key decisions that drive an entire project!