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“Architectural Representation an accessory to the
ideal or is it the necessary stepping stone in the design process?”




today’s technical age the advancements in computer software has allowed the
two-dimensional sketch to become a three-dimensional structure on screen and
finally paper. Early architectural representation, like many paintings where
challenging to read, but with the advancements in modern computerization the
client can easily see the architect’s idea
in a life-like demeanor. ‘Idea,’ being the pivotal word. Architectural
representation is, and remains throughout each platform an idealized augmented
reality. It creates an image for the less visually minded to understand. The
twenty-first century has developed a system of creating glorified sketches that
create the illusion of perfection, through artistic expression, creating a thin
line between interpretation and reality.


has long been the yang to the architects thinking, it’s a way for them to get
across their concept in a quintessential manner, allowing the clientele to
perceive the fabricated reality the architect has created. A primary sketch
holds the ability to manipulate space and create an understanding of structure
and dimension but as the process of representation progresses to computer added
design i.e. AutoCAD, Sketchup and 3ds Max, does the render hold authority on
understanding the structure or is it an art form to aid those less visually
minded to see what the final design ‘could’ become?




my dissertation I will analyze the importance of the sketch as well as investigating the
relevance of computer software, to build an understanding on whether CAD is an
essential tool for the modern-day architect or an unnecessary accessory to the
process. My
main focus will surround ‘Architectural Render,’ and how architects create the ‘epitome’
through an ideal created through the likes of 3DS Max and Photoshop, examining
how this in itself creates a personal response by the client towards the
architects proposed idea. I will use several references to get my point across
from the multi-award winning Zaha Hadid to the smaller practices of the modern
day to show how twenty-first century technology is shaping our reaction to
modern day architecture.


 I will consult Rene Magritte’s work ‘The
Treachery of Images,” 1929 to form the basis of my research. It is through this
painting that I began to think beyond the visual of the render and realize that
what we see in 2D may not be in fact what we will see in 3D but an artistic
representation that idealizes the architects’ concept/idea, “painting bears
very little direct relation to life, and that every effort to free oneself has
always been derided by the public,” Rene


prime questions I seek to answer are: What is Architectural Representation? What
is its’ purpose? Is architectural representation a system of communication? Is
representation a reality or an ideal? What is the impact it has had on the way
Architects work? Is there an importance to representations in design? Or is it
just an artistic expression to market a design? How has representation created
an ideal to persuade the clientele to follow the architect’s idea? How art
plays a valuable role in architectural representation? The what, how and when
of interpretation.


developing an answer to my question, I will look at a range of representational
forms and the ever-changing interpretation of architectural thinking/ideas from
modern day examples to earlier works. I will use a range of books on
architectural representation to inform the basis off my insight using other
writer’s definitions and understanding. This will include looking at not only
architecture but also abstract artist, Rene Magritte and his ‘Treachery of

architectural representation is an ever-changing discipline, online websites
and blogs designed by ‘architectural visualizers’ will aid the theory of my
book research to keep my research accurate. My anticipated conclusion is that
representation is not a three-dimensional form but an interpretation in
two-dimensions. I will argue that representation has become somewhat of an
‘Architectural Fashion,’ a symbolic form of architecture used both figuratively
and through abstraction to create an interpretation by the client wholly
designed by the editorial thinking of the architect.



















of Terms

‘Architectural Representation:’ the description or
portrayal of an idea through the use of sketch or software to inform an
onlooker of an idea or plan.


‘Architectural Fashion:’ the use of representation to
dress an idea, creating an idealised interpretation that is solely created by
the architect through ways of new age architectural representation.


‘Architectural Entity,’ covers built structures,
models, installations and drawings.


‘Digital Media,’ the computer graphics, videos and
virtual images created using computer software.


‘Digital Revolution,’ the overthrow of hand drawing
for digital drawing.


‘Render,’ a two-dimensional computerized art form (illustration
or animation) that shows the elements of a proposed architectural design.


‘CAD,’ Computer aided design (AutoCAD, Adobe
Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Sketchup, Rhino and 3Ds Max)



‘Working Drawing,’ this covers plans, sections and
elevations providing the details of the structure (i.e. room dimensions, wall
type/material type (stud or block/brick wall etc), annotations (room labels, British
Standards and Building Regulation notes) and services.





















media has become a vast tool in the architectural industry over the last few
years, challenging our perception of reality. The ‘digital revolution,’ has
meant more and more architectural firms are creating poetic imagery through
computer graphics to market their idea and sell ‘the dream.’ These computerized
representations have discarded the values of the sketch, losing the
technicality representation valued.  “Design drawings and renderings have become art pieces with
an aesthetic value wholly separated from the architectural value.”2 Architectural
renders have become a form of abstract art that plays with the imagination. It
is not a structure but a computer
graphic of a structure.

Rene Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images,” is a prime example of
how an image can resemble an object but realistically is not that object. ‘Ceci
n’est pas une pipe.”3 This is
not a pipe brings a new meaning to the render. Magritte shows that the image is
not a pipe but a representation of a
pipe, we can understand from this abstract theory that in fact architectural
representation is not a three-dimensional structure but an image or model to
resemble the real thing. “The connection between the signifier and the
signified is arbitrary,”4
in the theory of Ferdinand de Saussure a thing and its’ name have a whimsical
relationship, we don’t really know an object by a word but by the shadow the
language creates in the context of the system which in turn creates the meaning
that we associate with the object. This theory plays true through architectural
representation; a render is seen to have an organic relationship with reality
and so creates the idea that what we see on paper is what we will see in the
three-dimensional, but in fact it is an image created with all the trappings
CAD offers without the technical components needed, meaning in reality this
structure would not function as a building under building regulation law.


architectural sketch dates back to as early as the 14th century during
the Renaissance period where the architect would create a primary sketch from
the imagination. It wasn’t until the 15th century that physics and
mathematics was added to the sketch to create ‘working drawings.’ These
representational forms have been used for over two hundred centuries and even
with the addition of the computer to the architectural office the pen/pencil
and paper is still the number one tool. With the knowledge of knowing that
architectural drawing has lasted the test of time it creates the philosophy
that through the process off representation it is a necessary aid in the
process. The sketch is the primary source of information for the architect, being
the starting point in the design process; it allows the ability for ideas to
free flow, to morph and change to suit the changing demands of clients. Though
a sketch is just an illustration until the annotations are added which leads to
the working drawing. I suppose you could say the sketch and working drawing
work hand in hand, an essential flow in the design process. Together they form
the significant base in the design process as they carry ample importance in
relation to the final design.


working drawings contain the necessary information for the multiple trades that
work from the plan. Initially these would have been scaled by hand but today
with the development of AutoCAD plans can be quickly drawn up and changed
throughout the design process with the click of a button, reducing the time and
cost associated with the process. Looking at both sketch and working drawings
we see the historical factor of the architectural industry. How can we create
something new and exciting without the aid of the new technological fashion if
we don’t look beyond the processes of the past?


has changed the face of representation in architecture. It has allowed for
“symbolic representation, ranging from the abstract to the figurative.”5 Projects have become
personal and experimental incorporating the cultural and artistic influences of
the modern day. This fusion of discipline is not an entirely new process but
with the aid of CAD representation has transformed, allowing architects the
ability to sample, to cut, to clip and to scan their observations as well as
the object to create mapped depictions that play with the idea of realization.


Hadid’s Confetti ‘The Peak’ (1982)6 clearly merges abstraction
and architecture. The prismatic painting challenges gravity, flow, confetti,
plan making and a ‘new urban’ as colours fuse with detailed streetscapes. Hadid
is changing the way in which we think of the architectural real, she pushes
through the barrier hindering the process of the imagination and in doing so
has allowed the issue of representation to be understood by creating a
connection between imagination and reality in the development of modern
architecture. In relation to the numerous awards and the name Hadid has
established for herself she has developed representational techniques through
artistic experiment allowing her the ability to give physical form to some what
inconceivable shapes creating some of the most famous buildings (example: Heydar
Aliyev Center 20127)
designed in the twenty-first century.

know from my experience that without research and experimentation not much can
be discovered. With experimentation, you think you are going to find out one
thing, but you actually discover something else. That’s what I think is really exciting.
You discover much more than you bargain for. I think there should be no end to







Bonner’s ‘Domestic Hats’9 installation of large
massing models goes against the norm in size. Bonner “rejects the constraints
of smallness,”10
creating an art installation (yard art) from an architectural tool. It appears
that Bonner wasn’t using these massing models to understand or to represent but
to break free from the pressure of the architectural benchmark. In doing so she
has lost the value of the model, avoiding architecture completely. This modern
design approach bares more resemblance to the arts field than that off the
architectural. The architectural value is dissolved through presenting massing models
as art pieces, as they become the integral components to the work and not that
of the final structure so how can this form off representation be seen as a
necessary tool in the development of design?


with the use of computer software has allowed for a new age architectural role
to evolve the ‘Architecture Visualizer.’ Design Distill, is a visualization studio that “narrates
design projects,”11 narrates being the optimum word. The use of CAD has become a way
for the architect to create the ideal, the clients dream, an editorial to sell
their idea. Computer graphics wholly uses the sense of sight and plays with the
idea of reality immersing the client into an area of delusion. What we see is a
building, but it is not a building, it a concept that may never look as it is
represented. With the working drawing the architect takes into consideration
the rules of the building regulations, he/she chops and changes to suit the
rules of health and safety and uses equations to ensure the building will stand,
but, within a render this information is not present, so can we say it is


is architectural representation a necessary stepping stone in the process of
design or an ideal? In response it is both. The forms of representation to the
architect today allows for a fast breadth of investigation and development. The
modern architect wants to create a modern approach as many have done before
them. It is not the computer that is changing the way in which a building is
designed but the modern-day architect who is looking beyond the norm
incorporating the contemporary influences of the day. This leads to the belief
that in fact representation does create an ideal, but a necessary ideal. It
allows for the free flow of imagination, without this we would not have the
inspirers/influencers of the modern architectural age. Zaha Hadid allowed her
pencil and paintbrush to create a shape that somewhat went against the social
mapping of design creating an initially unrecognisable image but in doing so
created some of the most inspiring buildings of the modern age.


I will argue that the vast arrays of tools are a necessary stepping
stone in the architectural process as they are an aid to express ones
imagination. The use of modern age architectural tools are “exciting and
confusing as most of these tools don’t belong to the history of architecture.”12 It creates differentiation
between the drawing and image effecting the design, which creates a new and
exciting blend of the arts and architecture developing the new age of design
and development in a field that exists on the basis of its’ history. In so
allowing for the immersion of complete creativity spanned across the whole of
the artistic fields architecture can extrude from the box it has been held
within and become a new paradigm in an industry that has been depicted by
procedure, dictated by its’ history and so representation holds authority in
the design process.  








I will consult text from the library that focus on
representation to gain further knowledge on the forms of architectural
representation that are used by the modern-day firm to understand the impact
visualization has on the industry. My first-hand knowledge of using CAD will
allow me the ability to take reference from my findings in books in relation to
software and the architect. I am determined to get some primary research by continuing
to contact Alex Hogrefe a member of the ‘Design Destill’ architecture
visualization studio to get a better understanding of the purpose, want and
need for visualization within architecture. I will also be looking at numerous
videos of lectures on architectural representation held at Harvard University
Graduate School of Design, which deal exclusively with the issues presented
with modern day representation.




The limitations I face with my dissertation are how quickly
things change in the forms of software that aid the architect with representing
their ideas. This means books that I use to build up a deeper understanding of
my chosen topic will never be 100% up to date. Throughout my dissertation I
will continually have to investigate the ever-changing market to ensure my writing
is up-to-date and precise. Many of today’s visualizers keep their information
online on their websites/blogs so they can continuously present new and
exciting ideas. On the hierarchy of information sourcing the internet is a less
viable form of research so I will need to find a way to keep my research
scholarly and accurate for my topic. As the topic of architectural
representation is fast I will limit myself to looking at four forms (sketch,
modeling, CAD, Adobe Photoshop, AutoCAD and 3Ds Max) of representation so I can
delve deeper into the importance they have on the industry. I will also limit
myself to the amount of works I consult so I can look deeper into the purpose
of representation on the project.



Submission of Proposal……………………………………………….December 15,2017

Continued Research on Proposed Dissertation………………………….Dec,
17-Jan 18

Dissertation Tutor Assigned…….……………………………………….January, 2018

Discuss Findings with Tutor…………………………………………….February,05,2018

First Draft of Dissertation……………………………………………………..June,01,2018

Give First Draft to Tutor.…………………………………………………June,04,2018

Dissertation Tutor Returns Corrected Draft………………………………June,11,

Revise Draft Throughout Summer…………………………………June,July,August 18

Revised Draft Submitted to Tutor……………………………………..September 2018

Revise Draft completed……………………………………………….October,19, 2018

Revised Drafted Returned by Tutor…….……………………………October,26, 2018

Final Corrections, Images and Texts Added………………………….November,23,

Final text submitted to Dissertation Tutor……………………..……November,26,2018

Dissertation Bound……………..………………………………….December,03, 2018

Bound Copy Approved……………………………………………..December,10, 2018

Dissertation Submission……………………………………………December,14, 2019

Graduation…………………………………………………………………….June 2019







Neil Levine, Modern
Architecture, Representation & Reality, Yale University Press, New
Haven and London, 2009

Paquet, Magritte, Taschen GmbH, 2014

de Saussure, Course in General
Linguistics, Duckworth, 2013

YouTube. “GSD Talks: “Emerging Issues in
Architectural Representation.” Accessed December 7, 2017,

Zaha Hadid Architects, “Zaha Hadid
(1950-2016)” Accessed December 08, 2017,



II.        Works

Marco Frascari,
Jonathan Hale and Bradley Starkey, From
models To Drawings, Routledge, 2008

Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided
Representation, The Question of Creartivity in the Shadow of Production, MIT
Press, 2006

Gail Peter Borden, Process: Material and Representation in
Architectue, Routledge, 2014

The Guardian “Zaha
Hadid: from flaming sketchbooks to global phenomenon.” Accessed December 08,

The Economist, 1843,
“Zaha Hadid On Paper, A new exhibition shows how she explored architecture
through abstract painting and drawing.” Accessed December 08, 2017

Dezeen, “Zaha Hadid’s best
buildings photographed by Hufton + Crow,” Accessed December 09, 2017,

Design Distill, “About,” Accessed
December 10, 2017,



III.       Works
to Be Consulted

Eve Blau, Architecture and Its
Image: Four Centuries of Architectural Representation (Canadian Centre for
Architecture Documents of Contemporary A), MIT Press, 1990

James S Ackerman, Origins, Imitation, Conventions: Representation in the Visual Arts, MIT
Press, 2002











Appendix: Checklist of Images


Figure 1, Confetti, The
Peak Project, 1982, Zaha Hadid, Accessed December 10, 2017,

Figure 2, Heydar
Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2012, designed by Zaha Hadid, photographed
by Hufton + Crow,” Accessed December 09, 2017,


Figure 3, Domestic
Hats,2014, Jennifer Bonner, Accessed December 10, 2017,


Figure 4, Hartness
Vision, Design Distill, “Vizualization,” Accessed December 10, 2017,

1 Marcel Paquet, Magritte, Taschen GmbH, 2015, Page 9

2 Marco Frascari, Jonathan Hale and Bradley Starkey, From Models To Drawings, Routledge,
2008, Page 5

Marcel Paquet, Magritte, Taschen
GmbH, 2015, Page 9

Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General
Linguistics, Duckworth, 2013, Page 117

5 Neil Levine, Modern
Architecture, Representation & Reality, Yale University Press, New
Haven and London, 2009, Page 11

Figure 1: Zaha Hadid Architects, Accessed December 09, 2017,

Proposed idea for an architectural
landmark appearing separate from the intensely overcrowded area of Hong Kong.
The design sits centrally on a ‘man made polished granite mountain.’ A unique
‘geology’ symbolizes the high life through evacuated subterranean spaces,
distinctive horizontal layers and floating voids for the various activities
held at the club.


Figure 2: Dezeen, “Zaha Hadid’s best buildings photographed by Hufton + Crow,”
Accessed December 09, 2017,


8 Zaha
Hadid Architects, “Zaha Hadid (1950-2016),” Accessed December 08, 2017,

Figure 3, YouTube. “GSD Talks: “Emerging Issues in
Architectural Representation.” Accessed December 7,
Installation art exploring the everyday roof typologies while recreating
the role of the massing model. Three neighborhoods were used to collect the
data Peachtree Hills, Cabbagetown and Midtown in Atlanta and they conveyed the
stylistic differences of domestic architecture in the city. This study proved
that the public accepted certain roof types while others were not. So using the
findings Bonner distorted the convention of the roof typology. By focusing o
intersection and dissimilar roofs foreign roof types were discovered by using a
series of Boolean operations. The original roof types were then copied and
hybrid forms were manipulated creating sixteen original massing models,
inviting architects to play around in architecture, notably at the roofline.

10 YouTube. “GSD Talks: “Emerging Issues in
Architectural Representation.” Accessed December 7, 2017,

11 Design
Distill, “About,” Accessed December 10, 2017,

12 Zeina Koreitem, YouTube. “GSD Talks: “Emerging Issues in
Architectural Representation.” Accessed December 7, 2017.


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