7 Unmistakable Architect’s Sketches

by | 11. Sep 2014


Proposal for De Kunstlinie’ Theatre and Cultural Centre. Sketch by Ryue Nishizawa

With their unique ability to instantly communicate complex concepts, architectural drawings and sketches are unparalleled in their capacity to anticipate the esthetic appearance of a building after its completion.

The hand-drawn vision can highlight the main features and characteristics of a building, which tend to be overshadowed by the seemingly photo-realistic approach of renderings. Despite the infinite possibilities of computer-aided design, drawings and sketches remain the most intuitive expression method of many architects.

Sketches comprise a thinking mechanism and through the qualities of ambiguity, quickness and change, they initiate a dialogue for architects. As a medium to facilitate communication, recording, discovery and evaluation, their pertinence lies in their ability to exhibit both the precise and the imprecise.

We’ve gathered a handful of remarkable architects, who are using the freedom of the hand drawing to express their particular architectural vision.

Powerful and diagrammatic

Dominique Perrault

Fish Lamps (1983) Instinctive and enquiring

Frank O. Gehry

Sketch © Santiago Calatrava archives Sketchbook 1989 Conceptual and clear

Santiago Calatrava

SANAA: Competition Sketches Quirky and susceptible


Poignant and evocative

Jørn Utzon

Squiggly and expressive

Álvaro Siza

Linked Hybrid Beijing, China Colourful and palpable

Steven Holl