CFP: The Art of Architecture: Hand Drawing and Design (Notre Dame, 29 September – 1 October 2016)

The Art of Architecture: Hand Drawing & Design. A conference exploring the role of hand drawing in architectural history, education, & practice.

University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2016
Conference Rationale:
From the time that Vitruvius defined architecture as “an expertise born of both practice and reasoning,” architects have first envisioned buildings as lines on paper before they could be realized in brick, stone, wood, steel, and glass. At the beginning of the 21st century, we are witnessing a profound shift away from hand drawing towards a reliance on the computer in both architectural education and the profession.
What effect is this loss of hand drawing having on the creative process of design, and ultimately, on the quality of the built environment? What are we giving up in this technological shift, and what should we preserve?
This conference will explore the role of hand drawing in architecture from a variety of perspectives, focusing on three broad categories:

  1. What role has hand drawing historically played in the training of architects?
  2. What can we learn from the drawings and sketches of great architects in the past?
  3. What role has hand drawing played in the history of construction?


  1. What are the best methods for teaching to sketch by hand?
  2. What are the pros and cons of hand drawing in the education of an architect?
  3. What are the pros and cons of teaching to draw by computer?
  4. How is creativity fostered by hand drawing? Is it fostered in the same way by drawing on the computer?


  1. The architect as designer – design as diagram vs. the “ugly precision” of the computer?
  2. The architect as artist – what is the role of sketching, watercolor, and free hand perspectives in the development of architecture?
  3. The architect as craftsman – hand drawing vs. a “click and drag” mentality?

These and other questions will be explored by presenters at the conference. Architects, architectural historians, educators, and students are invited to attend.

Call for Papers
Submissions are being accepted for consideration. Suggested topics include hand drawing as it relates to education, practice, and architectural history. Please submit a 200 word abstract and a CV to by March 31, 2016. Accepted papers will be notified by May 1.
Additional Suggested Topics:

  1. What role has hand drawing played in the history of construction?


  1. How is hand drawing utilized in schools of architecture today?
  2. How can students be persuaded that learning to draw by hand is beneficial when computerized techniques are so readily available?
  3. Should learning computerized drafting be included in the curriculum, and if so, at what point should it be introduced?
  4. How does learning to sketch help one to see?
  5. What are the benefits of the pencil as a tool to design?
  6. What hand drawing techniques should be taught for analysis – figure/ground, nolli, diagramming?
  7. What presentation techniques best employ the hand?
  8. Are we training architects to be artists, technicians, or modelers?
  9. Is there a loss of visual literacy in academia and the profession?
  10. What are students learning that will go obsolete?


  1. What is the state of hand-drawing in architectural firms today?
  2. What are the benefits of coming up with a parti by hand?
  3. What are the pros and cons of doing schematic design by hand?
  4. What are novel ways to use hand drawing in renderings?
  5. How is spatial understanding developed by sketching or drawing in perspective?
  6. What are the benefits of drawing large scale details by hand?
  7. Faster, better: do computerized drawings make it possible to come up with new details or do they incentivize copying previous projects?
  8. The joy of drawing vs. drudgery
  9. Sketching as a tactile tool for discovery
  10. How is the craft of drawing related to the craft of building?
  11. What is the importance of the sketchbook to the practitioners?
  12. Methods and tools of design are not neutral.
  13. The immediacy and flexibility of hand design
  14. Sketching abstractly can lead to discovery.
  15. When does redrawing mean rethinking?
  16. Zooming in vs. comprehensive design
  17. Is an architect an artist or a technician?

conference website:

Share this post

News from the field

On the Traces of Misery

“Miserabilia” investigates spaces and spectres of misery in the imagination and reality of the contemporary Italian urban context. The main objective is the definition of tools for the recognition and investigation of the tangible and intangible manifestations of...