2016 I was asked by KooZA/rch to share my thoughts on visual communication in Architecture. KooZA/rch is a Visionary Platform Designed for Architects and Curious People Worldwide. Its aim is to explore the role of the architectural drawing as a tool for communication in contemporary society.
It is designed as a platform that will continuously encourage the translation of architectural ideas into intricate and captivating drawings. Drawings, which can be defined as art. From line drawings to collages and photo manipulations, architects are nowadays becoming the painters of our century carefully articulating their projects in ingenious and beautiful ways. KooZAr/chs’ purpose is that of a mediator between the individual and the realm of architecture through the awareness that there are a million and a one ways of depicting and translating an idea on paper.
photo by Alexandra Kononchenko
I can't name one specific person or one particular architectural practice that inspires me by itself. Sometimes my work is influenced by music, sometimes by art, photography or yesterdays' night out — for me, inspiration doesn't necessarily need to be architecturally related. I try to relate my graphic work for a project primarily to its own atmosphere, feeling and mood; thus I can somehow emphasise the parts of the design which relate to human perception.
How my work turns out also depends on the mood I am working in. Reflecting my thoughts in the collage or drawing often has a reciprocal effect closely connected to the project that becomes inspiration in itself.
If I need some good input for plan graphics, I like to look at drawings of Japanese studios like SANAA or Bow Wow. I like their playfulness and level of detail while still keeping plans clean and minimal. My fascination for collage art started with Non-Stop City of DOGMA — what is still one of my all-time favourites. Other influences of my work come from Julien Pacaud, Eugenia Loli, Superstudio to name but a few.
Last but not least I am influenced by the people that surround me: When I was working in Rotterdam at MVRDV, I had an Italian colleague that was pushing my graphic skills quite a bit. Even today, when I am doing the final panels for a project I am thinking "What would Luca think about the line weights and colours here?" Thanks Luca.
What dictates the way you approach a proposal, in terms of type of drawings used and the atmosphere?
The project itself dictates the type of visualization. May it be plan, collage or diagram - drawings in whatever way are our basic language, the way we communicate our ideas. Depending on what I want to say, I choose the tool.
In general, I am trying to develop an identity for the project. I think that is also the reason why I don't have an absolute style of [plan] graphics. Lineweight, mood and colour coding are changeable depending on the project and what I want the project to be perceived as.
I mostly work with collage because I like the abstract result. On the one hand you achieve a certain level of reality and on the other, details that infuse your mind. It is a lot about perception: Enough to be revealed to the viewer but still a lot to be discovered in your own mind. For me, it is the best way to deliver atmosphere and language of architecture — the basic concept of a project — to someone who doesn't know all the process, thoughts and details.
How important is texture in creating the atmosphere of a place? How does the absence of it change the identity of a space?
I love to play with the absence of materiality because it makes the viewer more aware of what he is looking at in a way. If there is nothing — your brain makes your very own version of reality up for you. The emptiness opens the door for the imagination of the viewer/user of the space even if it is just an imaginary play looking at a collage.
Texture is an active haptic element in a drawing and exposes how you as an architect imagine the place you design. In contrast to the abstract white space, I like to use strong textures that tell a story about how it must be like to feel the space, to touch, to smell it. The in-between interpretation is what creates the identity of a project.
To what extent does your photographic work influence the way you look and create images?
Every one of us is heavily influenced by the way we see our everyday lives. The point is that our mind puts reality together in the way we are used to seeing it. This means that often we don't perceive reality — our mind makes us re-read the used image we see day by day, even if reality changes.
Photography works as a way to digest and reflect reality for me. Focusing on the perspective, a little detail. A moment I want to capture makes me aware and sensitive to the everyday beauty of our world. Since I started photography, I am much more conscious of my surroundings and the way I see things. Perspective, angles, light, and space fascinate me a lot. Thus when it comes to creating images and foreseeing the built future, I try to combine this awareness of reality with a bit of naivety and visionary playfulness. Being aware of the basic tools that determine our perception helps a lot in the process of creation.