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Working Drawings : Architecture

Development in Drawings : Alan Dunlop

23 Jun 2009
Introduction by Adrian Welch

For this week’s newsletter we profile the amazing drawings of Alan Dunlop, one half of gm+ad architects.

Architectural Drawing

I first met Alan over twenty years ago, whilst being taught architecture by Ian Simpson. I was fortunate to be taught to draw and paint by my mother and grandfather, both keen artists, so drew my way through University, latterly coming under the wing of abstract draughtsman Neil Spiller at The Bartlett.

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I feel a connection to Alan’s drawings as they express ideas, they express intent. A recent visit to a celebrated School of Architecture degree show revealed some CAD drawings with as much life as a limp lettuce. Drawing connects, the intuitive variation of lineweight especially, but also – in the right hands – a grounded feel for texture, framing and proportion. It is direct, without the middleman software of CAD and 3D. Alan has a talent, but it is too rare. We try and celebrate it here in a small way.

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Working Drawing – Alan Dunlop

“He must understand that in the exhilarating, awesome moment when he takes pencil in hand, and holds it poised above a white sheet of paper, that he has suspended there all that has gone before and all that will ever be. The creative act is all that matters.”

Much has changed since Paul Rudolph remarked on the qualities required of the student of architecture. These days you are unlikely to find many drawing boards in schools or students practicing the art of hand drawing. Instead, too much reliance is on producing work on the computer and usually via Sketch Up.

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Rudolph was a master draughtsman who viewed architecture as “a personal effort” I agree but as a visiting critic am often dismayed to see drawing after drawing so lacking in character that they are divorced from personal art.

Regrettably, few working architects now use pencil and paper and these tools no longer figure in the creative act. Today’s designers are often detached from the drawing process itself and usually it shows.
In most offices, working drawings are prepared on screen and computer generated images of photographic quality squeeze out the hand drawn images.

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Recently, I was given a book on the work of Vilhelm Wohlert whose drawings are exemplary and like Paul Rudolph’s, works of art in themselves. Photo-realistic, computer generated images, lack authenticity and so hold little attraction for me.

To my mind there is nothing more beautiful than finely crafted line drawings and they are a measure of the passion and care that the architect feels for the commission. The drawing, the composition, the weight of line and the detail, commit to the end product.

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When I teach, I encourage students to hand draw everything and to experiment with pencil in hand but often this is a hurdle that some are ill equipped to get over. On a personal level, my career is predicated on producing pencil, pen and ink drawings and sketches; some of them are attached and I hope that they might inspire.

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Alan Dunlop is a partner in Gordon Murray and Alan Dunlop Architects (gm+ad) He is a visiting professor at Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University.

He is the 2009/2010 Victor L.Regnier Visiting Chair in Architecture at Kansas State University, USA.

Alan Dunlop Architect – Practice Profile

Location: 13 James Morrison Street, Glasgow, SCotland

alan dunlop drawing ratho, edinburgh venice biennale

Building Designs

Contemporary Buildings – recent architectural selection on e-architect below:

Concert Halls

Art Gallery Buildings

Hotel Buildings

Stadium Buildings

Glenroy Specialist School, Australia by gm+ad Architects
Glenroy Specialist School

Eye Line 2016 Architectural Drawing Competition – contest

Architecture in Scotland

Contemporary Architecture in Scotland – architectural selection below:

Scottish Architecture Designs – chronological list

Scottish Architecture News

St James Quarter, central Edinburgh
Architects: BDP Glasgow studio + Allan Murray Architects
St James Quarter Edinburgh retail - Scottish Architecture News
image courtesy of architects practice
St James Quarter Edinburgh

Literature House for Scotland, John Knox House, Edinburgh
Winning Architects: Witherford Watson Mann ; Groves-Raines Architects Studios ; Studio MB
Literature House for Scotland

Comments / photos for the Working Drawings Architecture page welcome.