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Generative Processes: Thick Drawing

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This article presents techniques and theories of generative drawing as a means for developing complex content in architecture design studios. Appending the word ‘generative’ to drawing adds specificity to the most common representation tool and clarifies that such drawings are not singularly about communication or documentation but are also productive instruments for architectural inquiry. A particular aspect of generative drawings is their potential to directly activate conceptualisation processes. Such advancement is demonstrated through evidence of continued design thinking development rather than isolation of schemes at a particular point in a process. Generative drawings offer the means of advancing multiple paths of inquiry rather than singular research channels typified in introductory pedagogies. The relevance of drawings as polemical instruments or tools of critique and history is well established, but the intellectual and physical techniques of generative drawing that advance multiple modes of architectural research are less explicit. The use of drawings as discursive instruments is a critical step towards the alignment of authorship as but one category of priority alongside the rich and complex field of forces beyond individual intuition. The recognition of design research as a category of inquiry commensurate with scientific or historical disciplines requires that our instruments have explicitly defined purpose. By discussing specific techniques and the reasons for communicating such intuitive or inexplicit architectural conditions, this article seeks to disperse the mysterious haze that obscures the legibility of architectural drawing from the uninitiated.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He teaches courses with a focus on integrating design and construction technology.

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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