Sketchy Logic

A new Metropolis Books title is proof that architects still draft their ideas by hand.

Architects’ Sketchbooks

Edited by Will Jones
Metropolis Books, 352 pp.,

Do architects still sketch by hand in this era of computer drafting and digital fabrication? You bet. Architects’ Sketch-books presents hundreds of examples from 85 contemporary practitioners, including big names like Norman Foster, Shigeru Ban, Rafael Viñoly, and Will Alsop, as well as dozens of lesser-known contributors. The result is a gloriously messy and invariably entertaining hodgepodge of drawings (and a few paintings and models) that run the gamut from bizarre, inscrutable, and cartoonish to fanatically precise and detailed. Foster, for instance, uses captions and call outs to explain the finer points of an imaginary design (“Timber is the ultimate material in terms of sustainability!”). By contrast, Alessandro Mendini arranges portentous words and phrases like fixity, man today, and alienation on an otherwise blank sheet of paper. With these and many other artistic expressions, you get an instant feeling for an architect’s sensibility and personality in a way that you rarely do from a finished building (or a photograph of a building). As Will Jones writes in the introduction, “A sketch is ultimately throwaway, and yet it has the potential to capture a moment in time and an instant of pure inspiration.” Here we present four of our favorites from the book.

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