Skyline's the Limit

Nylda Hamchaoui is about to start her third year in BSc Architecture at UEL. She blogs about architecture for Your Universe. Her opinions are her own.

Hand drawing or digital design? This question has consumed my experience of the last two years of architecture school.

Initially, in first year we are taught to get to grips with creating through drawing. This first-hand experience forces those who are not as skilled as others to draft and clarify their intentions of designing, as well as what their answer is on a particular problem. This is helpful in many ways as it enables us to understand that we all have a unique perspective. It informs us that there are many ways to go about investigating and that hand drawing is a visual discussion that happens between the drawer and the viewer.

After two years, it is now the only way that I find I can clarify my own thoughts and ideas. Not all drawings are presented to larger audiences. Most of the time, it is simply a discussion that happens within ourselves when we decide to engage with our own ideas. A pencil/pen and paper is also the most universally used medium that has been around for centuries; we are innately visual and we strive to draw in order to explain what we are essentially thinking.

The emergence of computer-aided design (CAD) brings about a slightly different process. To some it is a crutch that forces them to refine their existing ideas with a keyboard and mouse. In second year, we are pushed to adjust to professional standards, meaning that we learn more ways of digitally drawing our ideas in both 2D and 3D.

What is interesting about using CAD in most cases is the speed at which we can produce large-scale visualisations of ideas and problems all under a screen. It also allows us to communicate and address challenges we don’t have first-hand experience of as we can test hypothetical problems and their solutions. This is not impossible to do by hand but it can sometimes be more difficult and time consuming. Overall, those who have honed on their hand-drawing skills tend to have a better way of interpreting their ideas through CAD.

Therefore, it would be fair to say that we can take advantage of both these platforms. They enable students and professionals alike to develop skills and ways of presenting solutions that would otherwise be difficult to document in the design process of many successful projects. Although I tend to lean towards hand drawing, it is clear to say that when combined these result in well-thought designs of great modern architecture.

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