The future of Architectural sketching

The outburst of computer aided design tools has time and again questioned the relevance of sketching. While pen and paper are increasingly vanishing from the corporate world, they still remain essential to the field of design and architecture. We may have all of Auto CAD, Revit, ArchiCAD, Grasshopper, etc. at our disposal, but the handiness of sketching is unmatched. Today, computers are able enough to create life - like renders, generate accurate construction details, maintain activity logs and track the development of a particular project. Despite it all, can sketching be completely abandoned?

The history of sketching as a fundamental way of expression dates back to the cavemen period, where fingers were the most primitive tools of sketching, followed by the use of sharpened stone during Stone age. Gradually, Pencils and pens made the primitive art more polished and better documentable in the form of papers. Architects used sketching to let their vision and ideas flow on to a solid medium that could eventually be made to come to life.

What hand-drawing skills provide the designer is the practical ability to express a concept quickly, fluidly, with an architect or a perspective client, in the middle of a meeting, or anywhere else for that matter. 'If you have to say “Hold that thought, I'll be back in a day”, and rush back to your office to work something up, the moment is lost. This is why sketching is still important at the stage of conceptualization in a design paradigm. The potential is absolutely limitless here.

Ideas or thoughts are a complex human mechanism, while sketching is a tool that simplifies these com-plexities and turn them into executable objects. The elementary difference between using a computer and a paper is that on a paper we are tied only to our thoughts, whereas on a computer we are also tied to the framework of the software that we use. This is why sketching is still important at the stage of conceptualization in a design paradigm. The potential is absolutely limitless here.

Computers process tons of data to create what we call as a digital model. This requires hours or even days of input whereas you could sketch the same in minutes. Clients today prefer 3D views to anything else, but during meetings and discussions, sketching is very useful to explain a particular detail, or make changes instantly. Sketching is also very useful in conveying on the spot site instructions in the event of confusion or a mistake. It may take hours, or sometimes be impossible to produce a computer rendered drawing, which would delay or halt the work at site, causing loss of time and money.

Graphic tablets have been around for decades, but they haven’t captured a sizeable segment of the market. Today, touch enabled tablets are fast replacing pens and papers as tools for sketching. Architects are increasingly using apps like Sketchbook Pro and Archisketch. This seems like a step towards the future, where digital rendering and the look and feel of pencil and paper go hand in hand. Though mediums may change and scopes may get redefined, the future of sketching isn’t bleak; it’s there to stay.

The true future of sketching would be a technology, which creates digital models or images right out of the brain within seconds. Till then, sketching is ours to exploit!

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