Learning Through Drawing

Drawing is a fundamental communication tool and also the way in which an idea is developed and explored. Being able to make a mark on a piece of paper or the back of an envelope is often the starting point of an idea and an aid to discussion.

An architectural student is taught how to draw but are they taught to “think through the pencil” Macormac, R. 2010 and explore ideas and solve design issues through drawing and re drawing to refine an outcome?

By exposing undergraduate architecture students to a case study of a built project and using the full range of working drawings as a tool to develop drawing workshops, the intention is to support student’s develop­ing working methodology through critical reflection of their own work and to use drawing as a process of speculation, evaluation and communication. 

By supporting the students’ working methodology through drawing, can we prepare them for practice, in whichever form this may take? Will it support them for the “behind the scenes’ working in larger offices and assist in the crafting of their own architectural identity.

Who? Miranda Webster + Kathy Li + Stage 1 students

Where? Mackintosh School of Architecture


A series of interactive workshops.

By showing the undergraduate students a complete set of drawings made for a house project, the aim was to expose the importance of a variety of types of drawings made from concept to completion and the importance of drawing as a mode of communication, testing, exploration, presentation and information, and vital in the construction process.

The drawings were pinned up along a timeline and in relation to the work stages from A through to K. It showed the drawings made for communication with colleagues, clients, engineers, contactors, etc.  It showed drawings that were carried out to solve a problem or understand a particular condition.

We set tasks for the students, which meant the students had to examine the drawings closely and understand the progression of the project.


By making drawing activities fun and loose, the aim was to break down the students doubts about doing the wrong thing, that everyone’s drawings are different and establish a confidence in drawing. The workshops were designed to allow the students to engage with their peers, try different formats for drawing, on a table, ‘blind’ back to back with a peer in describing a building and standing up against the wall and lastly, applying drawing their own work in analysing a concept model.

Can the students be encouraged to understand that their drawings can be the beginning of an idea or path of discovery, as Aalto points out the importance of “experimentation and play” in a design methodology.

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