This blog is devoted to my architectural sketching adventures and musings about the integration of architecture and sketching.
I hope not only to share my own on-location architectural sketches but provide tips and methodologies for sketching and understanding architecture.
Also, most importantly, I wish to explore ways in which, in a digital age, we can not only defend but
promote freehand sketching within the architectural profession.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Architects Sketchbooks

110921 Architects Sketchbooks

As I have mentioned earlier, for years I have tried off and on to keep a sketchbook dedicated to interesting buildings, details etc that cross my path so that I can absorb and maybe use (reinvent etc) later in a project of my own. I am also a bit of a magazine/book junkie which has now morphed into an architectural blog junkie (archdaily etc)... is there any one else out there like me? What do we do with all this visual stimulation... do we absorb any of it?
Today, I got my latest copy of Houses magazine so within 30 minutes I had flicked through it and drew a few sketches and (of course) splashed a little bit of watercolour over the top.
I haven't done this for a long while and I was very pleasantly surprised to discover how quick and easily I was able to do this sketches... ie. all my on-location sketching (particularly when on a crazy holiday) is certainly helping my ability to sketch quickly in any situation!
100212 Cool LED lighting
100219 Morning Sketches Combo1
Last year, I tried getting to the office early to sketch these 'inspirational' sketches - I started in my personal daily sketchbook..but I go through them so quickly that I would never have them to refer to at my desk in the office.
100225 More architectural thumbnails
Then I tried them in my daily work notebook (which is a moleskine with the thin paper...I kept that up for a number of weeks... but the paper isn't really what I love using...)

So I am trying my A4 size sketchbook dedicated to architectural sketches(which is what I used today)... and I think that this would be a good lunchtime activity (if I am not going out to sketch people!?! hey!)
Old architectural sketchbook
Just for the record, these are early attempts at keeping such a reference/inspirational sketchbook. These sketches were done 10-15 years ago - on A3 cartridge paper and coloured with WC pencils. Done as research for the second house that I designed... I spent the WHOLE day looking through magazines and books to produce this... so labour intensive! It is amazing to look back and see how my desire to add colour and make images (rather than just scribble notes) was there back then!

SO... to all my architect friends out there who sketch on location do you sketch reference/inspirational buildings/details... what do you sketch them in/on and do you have any to show me????? And what do you do with all your magazines....


  1. hi liz!
    great article. love your words and totally agree with you. for me it is important as well to stay in touch with the architectural community, what is going on with contemporary. i also scroll through magazines and internet bases like archdaily or german baunetz. sometimes i am inspired by the overhelming pictures and drawings and start to design as well, as you can see in my design set on flickr:

    i also make proposals for architectural competitions but i don't take part in the competition - do you know what i mean? just to stay in touch with what's going on, to talk about it with others and to compare my idea with the winning proposal.

    i like your studies very much and as well your coloured pencil drawings. you should continue with that! i think that watercolour or aquarel is not very good to use during designing :)

    cheers, f.

  2. thanks florian! I agree about watercolour an designing... I just can't get them working int he office... so use wc pencils or markers. I will enjoy going through your flickr set! thanks for the link!

  3. First off I must say Jove the contemporary / modern building design on the top right of the first image. Next I love how you said you used to develop an image rather then simply scribble notes. Though I may not be an architect I do quite a bit of urban sketching in my time off mostly in my moleskine sketchbook. Though I like the texture of the watercolor journal more.

    I am however; somewhat still in that stage of wanting complete and polished sketches in my sketchbooks. I have always wanted to keep certain sketchbooks aimed toward one subject (urban sketches, illustrations, sketch journal, etc) but haven't been successful any advice?

    You can find my work on my website listed with my post. By.the way I really admire the layout and design of the second image. It looks perfect for a sketch journal entry: any advice on producing similar layouts?

    Benjamin J.