by Jerry ElengicalFeb 09, 2022
My then acumen for sketching is what attracted and led me to study and practise the discipline of architecture and design. In the profession and vocation of architecture, drawing has been conventionally considered a powerful and fundamental tool of expression. A creative gesture or a structural demonstration, sketches are the means by which architects have long represented their vision, and the symbiotic relationship between the two is deemed essential for the process and fruition of constructing edifices, soaring, underground, and speculative. Despite digital tools taking over now, illustrating an idea through humble mediums of paper and pencil still hold massive significance to most architects, both old-school and young, conveying and laying bare the intent of many architectural authors.
My learning as a student of architecture revealed an intention for each line and dot within a drawing, its varying thicknesses, shifting gradients and shadows, and welcoming voids carrying meaning, translating themselves into tangible materials, colours and elements of a space, detail, and building. From conceptual, hand-drawn sketches to axonometric diagrams and CAD-generated, technical architectural drawings, these eloquent, drawn narratives are what brought a dream, and subsequently, a building, to life, or at least, formed the genesis of that exploration and discovery.
Currently in its sixth year, The Architecture Drawing Prize announced winners across its three prestigious categories— Hand-drawn, Hybrid, and Digital— exhibited at the World Architecture Festival in Lisbon (November 30 – December 02, 2022), celebrating outstanding feats of architecture’s visual climate. Co-curated by Make Architects, Sir John Soane’s Museum, and the World Architecture Festival (WAF), the international architecture competition attracted 138 entries from across the globe, with a strong majority of hand-drawn ones, attesting to the entrants’ skill and originality.
Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane's Museum, said— "Sir John Soane’s Museum is pleased to partner with Make Architects and WAF in hosting the sixth edition of The Architecture Drawing Prize. This event has become a showcase for the best in contemporary draughtsmanship across media, which remains central to architectural practice today, and the Soane Museum is an appropriate venue for exhibiting both the winning and commended drawings.”
Judges for The Architecture Drawing Prize 2022 included Nikki Bell and Ben Langlands, Artists; Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum; Pablo Bronstein, Artist; Paul Finch, Director of World Architecture Festival (Chair of Jury); Lily Jencks, Co-founder of Lily Jencks Studio, Jencks Squared; Federica Minozzi, CEO Iris Ceramica Group; Narinder Sagoo, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners; and Ken Shuttleworth, Founder of Make Architects.
Make Architects, who both initiated and co-curated The Architecture Drawing Prize with WAF and Sir John Soane’s Museum, was represented in Lisbon for WAF by Jason Parker, Partner at Make Architects, and one of the studio’s key drawing champions, who commented on this year’s entries, and how drawings contribute to the vocation of architecture —“The Architecture Drawing Prize has been going on for over five years now, and each year we feel that the overall standard of entries across the board is higher. There is a definite increase in focus on social and environmental topics, and we are glad to see a belief in using drawing to freely explore ideas and speculate imaginatively. Drawing is seen as a universal language to ponder upon universal problems like isolation, climate change or challenges in housing provision was spectacular. As co-curators of the Prize, we hope it works as a platform to promote the unique creative potential of architecture in improving our lives and how the profession can and should communicate this confidently through drawing.”
He adds, “This year’s winners’ works are exceptionally good at demonstrating the range of approaches from the representational and sublime in the Hand-Drawn category to the highly abstract and conceptual in the Digital category. In the Hybrid category winning entry, we see an approach that wittily and skillfully plays with the very idea of more traditional architectural renderings.”
Here is a close look at the winning entries across the three categories:
Hand-Drawn Category Winner 2022The Spirit of Mountain by Weicheng Ye
Drawn pristine with charcoal and pencil, the “exceptionally atmospheric” work by Ye explores the relationship between nature and man-made, the natural and the artificial, as an eternal topic and mode of expression. Ye spoke to STIR about his winning entry —"The future city should be restrained, with harmony and unity between nature and artificiality. I sought to create a vision of the future city through the reconstruction of architecture and nature (mountains, water, and plants). The scene shown in the painting expresses a simple and restrained aesthetic appreciation.”
Ye also believes that cities, specially designed ones, must inherit the quiet, silent, and mysterious power of mountains, as shown in The Spirit of Mountain. An understanding of traditional Chinese painting was also put into this drawing, creating an immersive experience and imagination of sightseeing, as well as a certain narrative of timeliness expressed succinctly in black and white. “Qiyun（气韵）—a feeling similar to music— is also one of the inherent qualities and feel of this work”, adds Ye.
“It is unexpected and pleasant, that this work can win. Indeed, hand painting should be an indispensable part of architectural design. Paper and pen can help people tap into their originality, weaving in simple, sorted-out feelings and finding happiness in design. I hope that my work can encourage more students and designers to return to the most authentic form of design expression, as I believe it can also promote our thinking,” Ye elaborates.
The Architecture Drawing Prize Jury Chair and Director of the World Architecture Festival (WAF), Paul Finch, describes the work — “This is a drawing of great delicacy which highlights the difference between a tall-building aesthetic, and the possibility of disrupting it in a creative way via the insertion of nature as an artistic intervention. A very worthy winner.”
The Hand-Drawn Category shortlist included: The Temple of Gaia by Giorgos Christofi; Final Mexico Drawing by Ben Johnson; and Homage to Corb by Dustin Wheat.
Hybrid Category Winner 2022Fitzroy Food Institute by Samuel Wen and Michael Ren
Colourfully crowded and artistically architectural, Samuel Wen and Michael Ren’s Fitzroy Food Institute is a layered, visceral drawing exploring themes of Chinese culture, globalisation, and automation. Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make Architects, and one of the eight judges of The Architecture Drawing Prize 2022, comments on this winning entry —“Fitzroy Food Institute stands out for its well-considered and subtle use of colour. It is a very accessible drawing looking over a shared meal at a table, yet it is full of architectural interest featuring not only a plan but sections and elevations as well as detail. A conceptually original and genuinely delightful entry.”
Wen tells STIR about his intent —"The medium of dumplings in Chinese cuisine was the perfect food through which we could explore the ideas of (oriental) cultural perception, artisan vs. automation, and facilitate an increase in engagement with food theory through an institutional architecture. The project aims not as much to answer but to stimulate conversation and promote different perspectives and ways of thinking about these not-so-uncommon topics.”
The 'Fitzroy Food Institute' was completed as a mix of hand-drawn elements and digital software, presented in a top-down view of a ‘typically Chinese’ roundtable dining setting. “Fitzroy Food Institute indicates a pretty self-explanatory description of the project; however, the institute itself is named “the humble dumpling”, extracting itself from notions of grandiose and favouring a mode of accessibility and opportunity, for all to engage, learn and experience what the institute has to offer. It is a composite drawing, consisting of a series of plans, sections, elevations, details, diagrams, and perspectives, decorated with a series of miscellaneous table-setting elements,” Wen informs.
Honoured at winning this category, Wen relays, ecstatic, that they are beyond grateful for their work to have received such recognition. “Being able to convey such ideas and a captivating narrative through drawing had been the aim from the beginning, so being able to accept this award means a lot to us!”
The Hybrid Category shortlist also included The Stamper Battery by William du Toit and Traversing Dreamscapes by Sean Seah.
Digital Category Winner 2022The Wall by Anton Markus Pasing
Pasing, who was the Overall Winner of The Architecture Drawing Prize in 2019 was selected the winner for the Digital Category in 2022, for his drawing, The Wall, which plays on ideas centred around “the beginning, the end and the finite.” Speaking to STIR, Pasing highlights the message of his winning entry — “The intention is simple. To bring something into the world that did not exist before. Something that moves me and largely represents my unalterable processing of the world’s experience, while it remains unclear, what parts of it are reality or dream. I want to give back what my environment has written into my program, without me wanting it. The picture is a page of a personal diary if you will. There is no message. I do not want to explain, enlighten, or teach. I have no pedagogical impulse. I have no ‘truths’, but rather, I ask questions and express my amazement. I overdraw relationships to make them recognisable or destroy them. In my view, the paradoxical, the absurd and the meaningless are written into our existence more clearly than we might like to admit.”
Pasing also shares that The Wall describes a traumatic state, and its structure — “it is the beginning and the end at the same moment, a moment, a materially manifested inhalation of the infinite. I try to create this state with the means of 3D modelling and digital instruments since this tool provides me with countless sub-tools to create density and complexity.”
An excerpt of The Wall's description reads: The wall wasn't just there, it was everywhere. My gaze wandered around endlessly and found no end. What did you separate me from? Was there even a ‘behind’? The deeper I investigated, the less I could grasp it, and the more complex its structure became. It seemed to me that the wall was looking for a counterpart. She seemed like a surreal, huge, and lonely entity, and my soul could see no beginning or end. Machine buzz and crystalline truths. Endless questions coupled with the certainty that you were as real as a liquid dream. Reflections of what I saw weren’t me.
It was the endless projection of everything I longed for… it started raining. Digital Humidity. I went in. Bodiless and solid at the same time... I am the wall. I am the shine. I am the space. There was nothing else.
In the original, this picture was articulated about three meters in length, a dimension deemed necessary by Passing to let the viewer physically immerse themselves in the image. Pasing adds, “I understand my work as extensive artistic research because the space is an idea, a 'priori’, and really everything inherent in this space is connected to invisibly connected constants of an imaginary space. In some works, I write down my thoughts on the image to generate a context without leaving room for interpretation.”
Passing appreciates the fact that there are ‘formats’ which are also dedicated to narrative and speculative positions that go beyond the mainstream of architecture in general. "The function alone is one-dimensional, it alone has no meta-level. Therefore, I consider the award of the World Architecture Festival as a great appreciation of a discipline that, without such awards, my concerns and those of many others, remain hardly heard. The jury supports the high standards of the design event. I am therefore grateful and honoured to have had the opportunity to see one of my works exhibited in the famous Sir John Soanne Museum in London again,” Pasing reveals.
Artists Ben Langlands and Nikki Bell, who have been on the judges' panel of The Architecture Drawing Prize since its inception in 2017, articulate why Pasing’s approach to drawing impressed the jury again —“The Wall fills the view with a golden elevation: expansive and richly complex, it appears both vertical and horizontal, before us and below us, a terrain of construction and sedimented accumulation. It is not a border or a barrier, it is a space itself, a place of habitation, a record of social interaction. The wall is like time, it is history in the making.”
The Digital Category shortlist also comprised The Minecraft Labyrinth - A Reclamation of Childhood by Eric Pham and Mnemosyne by Meichen Duan.