Drawing on an architecture of blindness: A critique of the visual privilege operating in architectural representation

Author: Walsh, Hannah

Date: 2021

Publisher: Victoria University of Wellington

Type: Scholarly text, Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: https://figshare.com/articles/thesis/Drawing_on_an_architecture_of_blindness_A_critique_of_the_visual_privilege_operating_in_architectural_representation/16570344

Victoria University of Wellington


This thesis exhibits the visual medium of architectural representation destabilized and reinterpreted by locating blindness in architecture. What can blind drawing allow architects to see? As a primary medium of architectural representation, drawing is an agency through which architecture is conceptualised, developed and disseminated. Conventionally, drawings are generated and perceived through sight: they are visual projections. Such visual privilege reduces the subject of architectural representations to visible, physical elements of buildings, while invisible, and/or intangible aspects of architectural experience often lack consideration in drawing. The architectural design process can be described as the translation of architecture between the mediums of drawing and building. The context of representation describes this translation as shifting from conceptual to conventional drawing types. While the visual privilege constantly operates in both conceptual and conventional drawing, the differences between their visual languages enable them to describe different aspects of architectural experience. The main difference that this thesis explores is the strictly visual vocabulary of conventional drawing, and the ambiguous capacity of conceptual drawing, enabling it to reference both visual and non-visual aspects of architectural experience. This thesis places conceptual and conventional drawing in parallel, aiming to exaggerate their differences on paper, and what they represent in reality, highlighting where and how architecture risks being weakened during a course of translation. The first half challenges the visual privilege through blind drawing as an alternative mode of conceptual drawing, while the second half identifies invisible aspects of architectural experience that cannot be depicted through conventional drawing. In concluding the research, these differences also evidence opportunities offered by the dual capacity of architectural representation, which simultaneously depicts visible (and physical), and invisible (and intangible) elements. For example, a line as a wall, also defines invisible space either side of said wall – perhaps dotted by the warmth of morning sun and cooler patches of shadow cast by window mullions. This thesis addresses a shift away from the ingrained visual privilege thriving in architectural thought. While drawing remains an inevitably visual medium, the design process must consider both visual and non-visual aspects, equally incorporated by an architectural experience. To exploit the dual capacity of representation, such methods of drawing should encourage architects to draw as though they are blind.

Subjects: Architectural Design, Architectural History and Theory, architectural representation, blind drawing, conceptual drawing, non-visual, translation, School: Wellington School of Architecture, 120103 Architectural History and Theory, 120101 Architectural Design, 950205 Visual Communication, 970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design, Degree Discipline: Architecture, Degree Level: Masters, Degree Name: Master of Architecture (Professional)

Copyright: Author Retains Copyright