Four Fame and the Changing Role of Drawing
Architecture is a weak discipline. It has no natural or normal condition. It does not have a clearly defined and stable object of knowledge. Not at least, in the way that organic chemistry is certainly defined by various combinations of carbon and hydrogen atoms.1 Architecture as a discipline is rather defined ‘on the wing’ through its various historical objects (buildings, spaces, activities, drawings, images, texts) and their specific social modes of production and consumption. This process has involved at certain times in the history of building a particular brand of specialists who did not immediately participate in the actual construction process of the buildings and who are now commonly referred to as architects. In their modern embodiment, what these specialists are defined by most directly and what they tend to produce most directly are drawings. This, once more, is not a natural condition for architecture. It is important to note that although there is evidence that some drawing-like practices have been used at most times
and places in building production,2 it is clear that it has been and is possible to build, and to build large complex structures (such as the medieval cathedrals, or more recently perhaps Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Temple), without the use of drawings.3 This does not mean that such objects are not planned or preconceived in any way. It just means that the act of imagining is located in processes and practices other than drawing (such as production technique, model-making or perhaps entirely different procedures such as storytelling). It also means that in the latter situation the social task of imagining can be organised in such a way that there is no necessity for the labour of a professional architect (but rather it can be found in the builder, or elsewhere in society).