On the sketch: the making of an ideal library

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ νοεῖν ἐστίν τε καὶ εἶναι

...for it is the same, to think as it is to be.

Parmenides, fragment 3

These pages are a presentation of an architectural activity. It is the activity of the architectural sketch. By architectural sketch, I mean free hand drawing. Primarily, this is a presentation of the sketch as a generator of form and idea. With intent to clarify this activity, this way of thinking and working, there are also several short essays on the sketch. These essays will discuss certain aspects of the sketch which are intellectually intriguing (food for thought) and relevant to the fundamental question: what is it to sketch? A few supplementary questions posited at this point will help direct the viewing (IΔ) of the sketches and also serve as a background for the subsequent discussion.

  1. Of what importance is the sketch?

  2. What is the activity of the sketch?

  3. How does the sketch differ from other ways of drawing?

  4. What is the relationship between drawing and seeing? And thinking?

  5. What is revealed (unconcealed) in the sketch?

  6. Is there an aesthetics of the sketch?

Secondly, this is an architectural project, a masters thesis. It is a library project for an academic environment. Inherent in the sketches is a movement of form and idea (εἶδoς). This movement in the sketches lead to the architectural pieces which become the library. The question then becomes how to order the pieces, how to situate them with respect to one another. Through a study of geometry, proportion, and regulating lines the pieces are brought together into a rational order, that is, made intelligible to the mind. This ordering elevates the pieces which have been formed by the sketch to another level. A series of studies on regulating lines will be presented as well as some hard-line drawings of the pieces and the library.