manic monday – brain : hand : pen : paper

In trying to keep with my regular Monday blog posts, I realized that the topics that I was coming up with were starting to take a similar tact, and one that I’d like to avoid (i.e. being the preacher architect – someone who wails only about the woes of the profession in general). Luckily for me, I’m surrounded by incredibly creative and encouraging architects and designers who offer great advice and criticism when necessary. Today that advice comes from Bob Borson in which he suggested that to get back on course I talk about the peripherals of the profession like “sketchbooks or crayons, etc.”. And I immediately thought “DUH” *smacks forehead*.

So, in an effort to educate, inform and perhaps even inspire, I thought I’d talk about the typical progression of architectural thought –

brain : hand : pen : paper

As a friend of mine once put it, “it all begins in the ether – we reach out, grab it and pull it down”. This is the brain – where all architecture really begins. Some may tell you that architecture begins with the client, or with the building program or even with the site. I believe they’re just not thinking things through. Architecture begins with an idea, a thought, a goal, something ephemeral, whimsical and wholly intangible. It begins in the strangest places, places you don’t expect to be creative – like at the dentist looking through a 2 year old edition of Marie Claire or Architectural Digest (worst architecture magazine on the planet)Β or sitting in a cafe wondering what in the hell the designer was thinking when they organized the reflected ceiling plan (do they really need can lights surrounding a recessed 2×4 fixture?…).

some dude's hand

Lamy 2000 fountain pen - i love this pen for everything

These ideas, these thoughts begin to take shape in your mind. You may not even know what function the thing in your mind is to serve, but it starts an itch in your hand; the desire to pull out your favorite pen or pencil or crayon or anything that will scratch a line across a page or napkin or the back of your hand. The itch leads to a quickening pace to your thoughts. Questions and queries like form, material, color, shadow, entry come to mind and begin to coalesce into a purposeful form that you now begin to outline on your paper.

As we continue to scratch our pen across the paper ideas are still swirling in our head, some colliding, some being discarded, some coming back and taking new form on the page. This is the continual and never ending process of architecture.

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2 thoughts on “manic monday – brain : hand : pen : paper

  1. I love the honesty in this. It reminds me of our discussions at school. I hope clients and contractors find this acceptable for if we only started with the program, client or whatever we’d end up with…oh wait, we’d end up with the littered landscape we have now. This is what makes architecture. It will serve our clients and it will be buildable and it will be on budget. Just let us please start with an idea. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Ah, yes…the many late night drunken discussions about the future of architecture and urbanism and the utopian ideals we were going to be part of…..and then the hangover kicks in. πŸ˜›
      But yes, I still believe architecture needs to begin with the Art. Clients should see their projects as more than functional tools, they should see them as a permanent work of art that also happens to function really well.
      Here’s to pushing forward with a dream. πŸ™‚

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