A way of thinking

August 22, 2016

Within our design work, hand drawing is of central importance as a flexible means of thinking about places. In many cases, it is our way of communicating thoughts to each other (or to ourselves) – one which can be moulded almost instantly to run through a variety of permutations. It also introduces an element of serendipity into decision-making.

In the case of James and Winston, the ability to draw spaces well is partially an outcome of their training at Victoria University’s Landscape Architecture School, as well as pre-existing training in art. Rob’s design background also furnishes him with the capacity to envisage spaces well on the page, and I have focussed on the investigation of volume and texture within plantings for a long time through sketching.

On some projects, it is necessary to be able to place surrounding landscape features (incuding buildings) within the context of a drawing to determine relationships between various parts. The advantage of hand drawing such features is that one then becomes particularly familiar with the various parts of a building (as within the study for a courtyard entry on a Wellington project below).

Volumes may be explored within rapid planting sketches, such as the study below, which served to demonstrate the relationships between low-growing species in a design based on coastal cliff vegetation patterns.

When designing the stone mounds for Longbush, we needed to figure out the proportion of mounds that would be densely planted (with Coprosma acerosa, which was a species of particular relevance to Banks and Solander), as opposed to which mounds would retain a mostly open character (being occupied by native herbs with a more lightweight, seasonal character). The sketch below facilitated our thinking on the matter, by allowing us to play around with the planting density.

The drawing below was for a clothesline design that ended up being inessential for the project in question. The sketch for the clothesline, which is based on a series of poles that form points akin to a very simple constellation, is useful for showing how the poles track (to the eye) through the space, as well as ascertaining the proportion for the darker section of the poles where they emerge from the ground (which would have been burnt into the timber).

The final two sketches shown in this journal entry do not relate to specific design processes, as they are unused studies for the book, ‘Vernacular’. Seeing as these were 2 features that David Straight could not photograph (the former because of time limits on that trip, and the latter because the boardwalk had disappeared before we started our travels), the best way of representing them was through drawings (based on my own photographs) that I got James Fischer to carry out.

Despite not making the cut for the book, they are useful references for our design work, and sit within a substantial body of material that we can look towards in future.