Project Documentation

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Architecture School

The title of the this post comes from a subject at uni, where upon first look you could mistake it for a ‘drafting’ subject or some students may not understand why they have to know how to document a project. I mean I don’t think Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid jumps on CAD and helps document their projects. However the subject isn’t drafting, it’s design through details and understanding what you’re drawing, where many students may struggle.

I come from a TAFE background, I have probably mentioned that a fair few times, studying the Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural) along with working as a draftsman casually for a few years. Effectively I’m trained and qualified as a building designer, or draftsman, so I can understand the difference between drafting and documenting.

If you look at a typical drawing set from a building designer it may only be a few pages, squished together, with THE most basic section cut, and perhaps a single detail. Look at a set prepared by an architect (or one where architects have overseen the documentation stage) and it’s 60+ pages, many of them are sections and details, as they understand the importance of the details, draftsmen don’t.

In the past I have drafted some structural drawings, not my favourite thing to do but did it anyway. For me as a draftsman I could have just drawn the lines but that’s a poor perception, instead I wanted to know what it is I’m drawing, and that’s the key in this subject. It isn’t about drawing lines to be technically correct, it’s about trying to understand why you’re drawing these lines.

Being a great architect (and not referring necessarily to ‘staritects’) is having passion for the industry, not just the sketch design phase or conceptual design, it’s about turning paper architecture into built, falling in love with the construction. I follow quite a few architects on the Instagram, the better ones (in my opinion) aren’t just posting up concepts or photos of the built projects but getting out on site, photos during construction and even working out details on site with the builder.

It’s a common misconception and argument that architects don’t know how to build and the builder scoffs at them. However a building designer is someone who fully understands building and can design a building that can be built. That argument is a WHOLE OTHER BLOG POST but it’s wrong, and Project Documentation is a great step for young future architects. They aren’t teaching us how to draw lines, they are teaching us to research and understand what these lines mean and how a building goes together.

Over the trimester I’ll be sure to write at least one more post to give you an idea on the subject. Other architecture students, how do you feel documenting (drawing the plans for construction) a project? Architects, are you quite involved in the documentation stage? Want to hear from you!

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