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Pages from the Sketchbook – Roger Connah

Roger Connah decodes his multi-layered sketch book pages that contain not only design ideas, but thoughts that enable an idea to become a design.

by Roger Connah Jun 02, 2019

Architects used to rely on drawings as transfers, steps from the idle towards the occupied, from the intuitive towards the framed. Today, perhaps due to time, anxiety, software and social media, the way architects think and draw may be changing. Some go as far as claiming not many are doing it these days - thinking and drawing, that is.

These calligraphisms - 5 Easy Pieces - started in a 10”x10” Golden Sketchbook (Ordningoch Reda, Sweden) and then began life in real time. By real time I mean there is no advanced planning of the sheet-as-canvas, or where the information and knowledge will be layered. Crucial to the effectiveness, or not, of mapping is the unknown material - the narrative and links that emerge from an event - a lecture, an outline, or a program. Without agenda or destination. Incomprehensibility is not determined by the layering as how the brain erases and edits as it goes along, but merely demonstrates the workings of the architectural brain in action. The drawings and maps that emerge erase knowledge and learning as fast as they locate new thinking. The drawing of text is forever thinking through architecture, without harbouring the intention to build anything; thus a drawing of text, and an architecture of words. These drawings rely on a model of knowledge and language that fluctuates continually between fluency, redundancy, absence and infancy. Always, but always, they begin in the middle of something else. Memory, direction, required skill and narrative are all contained in the instant unthinking precision of this downhill drawing.

  • The Not So Secret Working of an (Architectural?) Brain, The Golden Notebook(ordning och reda) 2002 Roger Connah Image Credit: Roger Connah
  • The Rhetoric of the Image, an approach to the seminal essay by Roland Barthes (2006) Image Credit: Roger Connah
  • The Steven Gerard Circle, a non-hierarchical circle sketch for the lecture “Architecture Degree Zero” (2007) Image Credit: Roger Connah
  • The Big Box, a real time mapping of a lecture by Christenson on the Big Box (2006) Image Credit: Roger Connah
  • Purism vs. Constructivism, Le Corbusier & Ozenfant versus Naum Gabo (2004) Image Credit: Roger Connah

(This article was first published in Issue#19 of mondo*arc india journal - an initiative by STIR.)

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About Author

Roger Connah

Roger Connah

Connah is a respected educationist associated with Carleton University, Canada; Guangdong University of Technology, China; Sushant School of Art and Architecture, India. He is responsible for many publications, exhibitions, films carried out over 40 years in Finland, Sweden, India, Pakistan, Italy, USA, UK and Canada. He is the author of The School of Exile; Being: An Architect Ian Ritchie with Roger Connah; The Rest is Silence: Zahoor ul Akhlaq.

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