The Value of Architectural Sketches

Ana Gabriela Godinho Lima, M. Biggs, D. Buchler

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In this article we analyse architectural sketches as an example of how communities attribute value to activities and outputs. Sketching is both an ideational activity, of conceiving of things through the act of drawing, and a recording activity leading to buildings that can be materialized. To the architectural practice community, architectural sketches are more than mere translations of what is already outlined in the architect's mind – sketching is also an activity that generates new knowledge. We focus on Bourdieu‟s concepts of habitus, field and capital, as a way of corroborating our claim about the structure of communities as groups of people who share certain values, and find certain actions meaningful and certain outputs significant and satisfying. These communities invest in certain actions towards mastering certain skills and producing certain kinds of output, all of which must result in some kind of gain or capital. We describe the act of sketching as citation in order to discuss the efforts and engagements of those who enter and remain in the architectural profession or field. In reflecting about what motivates someone to undertake the challenging training in order to master a skill such as sketching, we cite Balinisteanu's notion of fantasy. Within our explanatory framework, one engages in developing the skill of sketching because, to some degree one identifies oneself with the professional habitus, sees oneself as belonging to that field, and proceeds to acquire that particular capital. The field can just as easily consist of professional architectural practice as of the academic research community. Architectural sketching need no longer be interpreted as merely a way to become „passionately involved‟ with the object that is drawn. Architectural sketching can also be a means of becoming involved with a community who values architectural sketches – be that the architectural practice or the academic research community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorking Papers on Design
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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