Tips for your architectural Sketches

Tadao Ando Sketch

Architectural sketches are many things but they do NOT need to be perfect / meticulous or even pretty.  Sketches are tools and without rules.  Often times we shy away from sketching because we think they need to be pretty perfect replicas of whatever we are sketching.

Sketching offers so many benefits such as:

  • a record of something you have visited and seen in person
  • a record of one or more aspects of something you want to keep record of
  • a way of learning how materials and forms come together
  • is a great alternative when cameras are not permitted
  • sketching is slower than photography which lets you take a moment and really appreciate and look at the architecture you are visiting
  • you can add notes and thoughts to your sketches
  • a rough description – it’s OK if they lack detail; don’t fill the page or are not even completed

All you need:

Faber-Castell 9000 Pencil Design SetPencil:  A carbon pencil is great for the beginner – they come in a variety of lead grades and provide a varied and richness to sketches over mechanical pencils which are hard and thin,  I would recommend a soft lead such as a B or 2B, for a sketcher quality you can even move up to a 6B.  Mechanical pencils break easily and because they are so thin it will be more difficult to shade and obtain a variety of line qualities.  No erasers – don’t bring an eraser sketches do not need to be perfect when you make a mistake work with it or start over, this adds character and will help you improve.

Pen:  there are so many types of pens available; the easiest to sketch with, in my opinion is a felt tip marker.  The thicker the pen the less precise and detailed you need to be.  Experiment with pen types you have, I would not recommend traveling with a fountain pen, they require refills and my fountain pen exploded on me after a long flight so stick with a basic felt or nylon tips.

Moleskine Classic Red Notebook, Plain Large

Paper:  a sketch book with good quality paper is important, also if you choose to use markers you will need a paper that can hold the ink without bleeding the next page.  Every sketch looks better on good paper – Moleskine has a variety of paper weight available for their sketchbooks and the paper color also varies which adds to the quality of the sketch.

Sketching Tips:

Everyone has different preferences so spend a few minutes and experiment with what you like.  You do not need to travel with lots or supplies, 2 pens and 2 pencils and 1 sketchbook are enough.

To do this sort of sketching you need to relax and let yourself go and not to be afraid of making mistakes and to have an understanding of form and shape.

A lack of confidence and worrying about a perfect sketch inhibits your work and enjoyment of the process.  Sketches are a means of conveying an idea, they are tools to learn, understand and communicate so they do not need to be perfect or finished.

Really simple tips to elevate your sketches:

  1. Darken the end of the line

  2. Overlap corners

  3. Add a dot at the end of the line

  4. Leave gaps in lines

  5. Repeat your line

  6. Shade on a 45° angle & vary you depth

  7. Write notes

  8. Use white space

  9. Continuous lines (don’t lift your pencil/pen)

  10. When drawing a long straight line do not use your wrist but rather move your entire arm  – try it.

Architectural Sketching Tips

Draw something everyday – an exercise which will bring fluency and confidence to your drawing

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The WorldDrawing: A Creative Process

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10 Architectural Photography Tips

We are always looking to improve our architectural photography skills to get the best architecture photos possible.  Here are a few ideas and tips based on my experience and research to keep in mind the next time you are visiting your favorite modern and contemporary architecture.

1.  Closeup vs. Far Away

Sears Tower closeup   Sears Tower from afar

When photographing buildings from closeup they can sometimes appear to be sloping backwards – sometimes this can be corrected in Photoshop however if possible try moving farther away from the building and use a telephone lens this will correct the distortion and result in much straighter lines.  Notice the difference in the two Chicago  skyscrapers above, the photo to the left is taken from a much closer with a wide angle lens and the photo to the left from a boat with a telephoto lens – the end result is dramatically different.

2.  Foreground and Background

Design Sight

Including an interesting foreground such as plants, people, or cars can help contrast the building lines and form.  A background such as trees, clouds, other buildings can do the same.  Be sure to keep the focus on the architecture by adjusting your depth of field.  The photo of 21-21 Design Sight in Tokyo by Tadao Ando is framed by textured vegetation which contrasts the strong straight lines of the building roof and glazing.

3.  Silhouettes

Istanbul Mosque

At dusk or dawn you can try having fun with silhouettes.  Some buildings have wonderful and distinct forms which can be understood even without all the details.  In Istanbul the beautiful mosques have minuets and domes that can be clearly read even as a silhouette, photo above.

4.  The Essence

Elevator

Capture the essence of the space.  This old and wonderful elevator in Prague was an accidental find – a photo without displaying its movement would not be the same. Experiment with shutter speeds to get the amount of blur you are happy with.  A few other ideas is intentionally overexposing or underexposing these can be great effects if done in the right space to capture the mood of the architecture.

5.  Lines

BCE Place - Toronto Architecture 2   Colourful architecture

Architectural photography is often about lines, angles, details, colors, shapes and materials and textures, exploit what you believe the most important element of the building.  To keep your lines straight be sure to turn on your camera grids on this is also helpful for following the Rule of Thirds.  Straightening out your lines can also be done in the post production phase (I frequently rotate and crop photos in Photoshop).

6.  Sky

machu picchu

A big blue sky is great but it can be boring.  On my trip to Machu Picchu I was disappointed when I awoke to a rainy overcast day however I realized this fog and rain added a lot of mystery and drama to my photo, above.

Clouds / Overcast / Fog / Sun – use light and its qualities to your advantage no matter what it is.

7.  Location and Approach

IMG_3440

There are so many buildings where the approach and procession to it is worth documenting.

Build the suspense – don’t give it all away.

8.  Night and Light

Prada - Tokyo     IMG_7852

Don’t be afraid to capture architecture at night, you will likely need a tripod but a building can completely transform from day to night and that night shot may be amazing.  Architects spend a lot of time planning what a building will look like at night.  These photos are more challenging my suggestion is turn off your flash and increase your ISO and aperture, also I also try to get these photos just after sunset when the lights are on but it is not complete darkness  – again a tripod is crucial for a perfect night photo!

9.  Abstract

Royal Ontario Museum - Toronto Architecture 2

You don’t need to get the whole building, editing can result in an abstract photo emphasizing architectural elements and strong features.  The ROM by Daniel Libeskind, above, is made of sloping jagged forms – I tried to focus on that aspect of the architecture only and cutting out all the other elements on the building.

10.  Unexpected & Dramatic

John Hancock - Chicago    Looking up Ginger's Skirt

Many times the most interesting architecture photos are when they are taken from an angle you would not expect or think of.  On the left is Frank Gehry’s ‘Fred & Ginger’ building in Prague when was looking at this building I was more interested in understanding how the glass was being supported but I soon noticed I was in fact looking up Ginger’s ‘skirt’ so i took advantage of the unexpected photo opportunity.  The photo on the left is the John Hancock Building in Chicago, I love the form of this building and the drama of standing at its base.

Resources:

Here are two photography resources I have found very helpful:

photo.tutsplus.com/

theartofphotography.tv/episodes/

Coming soon:

Tips on how to take a great PANORAMA and HDR photo

Architect Sketches

architects sketch

“God created paper so that architecture could be drawn on it”

Alvar Alto

We are forever fascinated by the Architect’s doodle and how those scribbles on a napkin transform into architecture.

The architect’s sketch is often described as an intuitive force which emerges as a way of communicating their vision to the client.  These scribbles on the page hold so much insight into how that architect thinks and conveys their ideas to the world.  Sometimes ithey are so abstracted from a built form we understand that only when it is complete all the ideas held within the sketch are completely understood.

Many sketches hang in museums and are viewed as pieces of art but where only created as tools for the architect to express their ideas. Over the course of their career architects create thousands of sketches to convey every detail of the building, they say a picture is worth a thousand words but a sketch is worth far more than that.

I am spellbound by these sketches, check the arch GROUPIE Flickr account for a small sample of some of our favourite architect’s sketches.

The Sketch Plan Build: World Class Architects Show How It’s Done by Alejandro Bahamon, Wendy Griswold is a great way to see how architect’s sketches come to life with sketches set beside the built space – fantastic and enlightening.

Architect’s Drawings  by Kendra Smith contains a large collection of sketches, each containing a summary of the building, the sketch style and media, the architect’s thinking and intentions.

Dinner for Architects: A Collection of Napkin Sketches is a great coffee table book with less indepth analysis but a great collection nonethless.

Architects’ Sketchbooks will insprie anone to pick up a pencil and start sketching, another great book those who enjoy looking at these drawings.

Architect's Sketches

Architects sketchArchitects' Sketchbooks

Zaha Hadid’s sketches come to life in her book Zaha Hadid -Sketches -by Zellweger

Another great resource for architectural sketches: Architecture Sketch Blog

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Is modern architecture as valuable as historic architecture?

liu1_5   VS   Pantheon

When I created this blog and the architectureGROUPIE website I asked many people for their feedback, both architects and non-architects, requesting feedback such as if the information was useful, if they would use it, and so forth.  I was definitely more interested in what the non-architects had to say and a recurring comment was “I don’t really visit architecture when I travel”.   I was stumped, since I am an architect and quiet honestly surrounded by them almost all the time I understand we are rare breed so I really didn’t have a clue what people do when they travel other than visit architecture!

So I continued to probe…

What I eventually discovered is that they in fact do visit architecture but typically think of it as landmarks or monuments and they were almost always old, historic and on a travel map.

SO why does the general public consider historic architecture worth visiting and new architect not  worth visiting???

drawing some of my own conclusions I posed this question to all of you:

Is modern architecture as valuable as historic architecture?

here are some possible explanations from all your thoughts:

  • historic architecture which still remains has stood the test of time
  • new architecture is about experimenting and inspired by many things – people just don’t understand architecture now perhaps because there used to be rules and principals to follow
  • some love historic architecture due to some deep nostalgia
  • architecture is making strides in technological improvements but forgetting about the experience
  • architects are involved with the edifice and not the experience
  • architecture is a representation of current ideals – time allows for an appreciation of the those ideals to develop and modern architecture has not had enough time
  • building’s are given significance when it is put in a book or placed on a map
  • historic architecture is known by a greater number of people – they are popular and some are a part of pop culture
  • the wonder of historic architecture’s creation makes it special, new architecture uses technology and machines which we appreciate differently
  • building materials have changed, a large stone building demands more attention
  • the machine age and technology has created a longing for craftsmanship
  • some need to be engaged with architecture to find it valuable – perhaps modern architecture lacks engagement with the public
  • there is a lack of education regarding design among the majority
  • some don’t care for concrete, glass and steel, minimalist design but architects continue to this
  • modern architecture doesn’t have the history and the history is what creates interest and value

my quest for answers continues…

do you have something to add? contribute to this conversation here or on facebook / twitter

Learn more about Bjarke Ingels (B.I.G)

Bjarke Ingels

Bjarke Ingels was born in 1974 and founded B.I.G. (Bjarke Ingels Group) based in both Copenhagen and New York they are well known for innovative and nontraditional design ideas.  Together they work within the field of architecture, urbanism, research and development.

BIGB.I.G’s collective belief is

“A pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism… By hitting the fertile overlap between pragmatic and utopia, we architects once again find the freedom to change the surface of our planet, to better fit contemporary life forms. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the small details to the BIG picture.”

Ingels is a large advocate of sustainable architecture and re-thinks the traditional – his work is playful and practical in many ways.  He has caught international attention for his thoughts and works, his most notable projects are:

  • VM Houses (2005), multi-family housing in V and M shaped apartment buildings;
  • Mountain Dwellings (2008), an extensive parking facility combined with terraced housing;
  • 8 House (2010), a large mixed-use housing development.
  • the REN Building, taking its form from the Chinese character for person 人 (“ren”) combining two buildings – one symbolic of mind and the other of body.

To learn more about how Bjarke Ingel’s brain works check out this collection of interviews and talks: 

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Bjarke Ingels: 3 warp-speed architecture tales

Uploaded on Sep 15, 2009

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels rockets through photo/video-mingled stories of his eco-flashy designs. His buildings not only look like nature — they act like nature: blocking the wind, collecting solar energy — and creating stunning views at a TED talk http://www.ted.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AYE3w5TWHs

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Gyre: Recent Work by BIG (Bjarke Ingels)

Published on Oct 10, 2012

Bjarke Ingels, Principal, BIG

“This is the country that invented surf and turf!,” noted BIG Principal Bjarke Ingels in New York magazine when describing his forthcoming residential project W57, “a European-style, low-rise apartment block encircling a courtyard, and a Manhattan tower-on-a-podium, yielding something that looks like neither and behaves like both.” Ingels returns to GSAPP to discuss his recent work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdrK3G1nU3A

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Architect Bjarke Ingels shares his philosophy on the design process

Uploaded on Jan 28, 2011

See what architect Bjarke Ingels has to say about the design process and the importance of print.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFo50kK1tg8

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TEDxEast – Bjarke Ingels – Hedonistic Sustainability

Uploaded on May 17, 2011

May 9, 2011- Bjarke Ingels wows the audience with his wit and unlikely architectural solutions around the globe. Prepare to be dazzled.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogXT_CI7KRU

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Bjarke Ingels on Sustainability

Uploaded on Aug 18, 2010Bjarke Ingels one on one talking to specific questions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKJRS5ZzkDk

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Making architecture more like our dreams (Bjarke Ingels)

Published on Apr 20, 2012

CNN’s The Next List profiles innovative Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4WY8kcOfc0

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Bjarke Ingels – Interview by Studio Banana TV

Uploaded on Dec 7, 2011

Studio Banana TV interviews Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, principal of BIG

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAkt49vu1ms

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BIG ECH – Escher Tower

Uploaded on Jan 14, 2008

Bjarke Ingels describes how when asked to design a Scandinavian skyscraper with views and daylight in abundance, he chose a slim volume: a thin slab with minimal distance between the facades. The thin slab however is as structurally complicated as it is visually simple. It combines maximum wind pressure – the wide side – with minimal foothold – the short side, thus appearing as an unstable monolith.

The Escher Tower in response consists of 3 square towers merged into one. The central tower is straight as a dart, the two peripheral ones change places between ground floor and penthouse, causing the volume to flip 90 degrees. This provides maximal foothold for the hardest wind pressures.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYRCnCxxNkY&list=UUuzMH3B5EdlKWEFacVIXDeQ&index=10

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If you ever have a chance to go to Bjarke Ingels’ talks GO –  he is so inspiring!

For more information check out these great reads in BIG

Big - Bjarke Ingels GroupYes Is More: An Archicomic on Architectural Evolution

BIG: Bjarke Ingels Group Projects 2001-2010 Big: Recent Project (English and Japanese Edition)

Modern and Contemporary Architecture Bucket List

Well this was no easy task – putting together a Modern and Contemporary Architecture bucket list has made me pretty choosy. The essence of any good architecture bucket list consists of visiting projects which exemplifying design to near perfection, is beyond the norm and embodies amazing ideas.

Here is the architecture GROUPIE Modern and Contemporary Architecture Bucket List consisting of 25 architectural projects I have made a point to visit or have yet to see in my life.

Yes some are pretty obvious cliche projects but nonetheless they are famous for a reason.

without further ado, in no particular order…

1. The Therme Vals Spa, 1996, Graubunden Canton, Switzerland, Peter Zumpthor

Therme Vals

2. Bilbao – Guggenheim, 1997, Bilbao, Spain, Frank Gehry

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

3. Sydney Opera House, 1973, Sydney, Australia, Jørn Utzon

Sydney Opera House

4. The Reichstag Building, 1992, Berlin, Germany, Norman Foster

Bundestrag im Reichstag - Berlin Architecture

5. CCTV Headquarters, 1982, Beijing, China, Office of Metropolitan Architects

CCTV - 1

6. Fallingwater (Kaufmann Residence), 1935, Pennsylvania, USA, Frank Lloyd Wright

Fallingwater

7. Oslo Opera House, 2007, Oslo, Norway, Snohetta

oslo opera house

8. Burj al Arab Hotel Dubai, 1999, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tom Wright

Burj-al-arab-hotel

9. Church of Light, 1989, Ibaraki, Japan, Tadao Ando

ChurchOfLight

10. The Louvre Pyramid, 1988, Paris, France, I.M. Pei

louvre-museum

11. Barcelona Pavilion, 1929, rebuilt 1986, Barcelona, Spain, by Mies van der Rohe

Barcelona Pavillion

12. Canova Plaster Cast Museum, 1957, Treviso, Italy, Carlo Scarpa

Canova Plaster Cast Museum

13. Soumaya Museum, 2011, Polanco, Mexico, LAR / Fernando Romero y Mauricio Ceballos

Soumaya Museum

14. London Aquatics Centre, 2012, London, England, Zaha Hadid

London Aquatics Centre

15. City of Arts and Sciences, 2002, Valencia, Spain, Santiago Calatrava

Arts and Sciences

16. Notre Dame du Haut, 1954, Ronchamp, France, Le Corbusier

IMG_0702a

17. Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2010, Metz, France, Shigeru Ban

Centre Pompidou-Metz

18. Prada, 2003, Tokyo, Japan, Herzog & de Meuron

Prada - Tokyo

19. Sendai Mediathèque, 2000, Sendai, Japan, Toyo Ito

Sendai Mediathèque

20. Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 1960s, San Diego, California, Louis Kahn

Salk Institute

21. Louvre-Lens, 2012, Lens, France, SANAA

Louvre Lens

22. Case Study House #8, 1949, California, USA, Ray and Charles Eames

Case Study House 8

23. HSBC Main Building, 1985, Hong Kong, China, Norman Foster

HSBC Main Building

HSBC Main Building

24. Lotus Temple, 1986, New Delhi, India, Fariborz Sahba

Lotus Temple

25. Louvre, Abu Dhabi, 2013, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Jean Nouvel

Louvre Museum Abi Dhabi

Let me know which architectural projects have made your Bucket List!

Interviews with Zaha Hadid

YZ221_01.tifZaha Hadid is one of the youngest people and only women to ever win the prestigious Pritzker Prize – the highest award in architecture.  Jorge Silvetti, a Pritzker Prize juror stated:”What she has achieved with her inimitable manipulation of walls, ground planes, and roofs, with those transparent, interwoven, and fluid spaces, are vivid proof that architecture as a fine art has not run out of steam and is hardly wanting in imagination.”

Zaha was born in Baghdad in 1950, and obtained a degree in mathematics from the American University in Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to study at the Architecture Association School, winning the school’s Diploma Prize in 1977.

Z ChairHer innovative creations span the entire spectrum of design, from large-scale urban architecture to interiors, furniture and exhibition spaces, and have graced cities around the globe, winning her a number of awards and prizes.  Her best known projects are:

Zaha’s recently completed the London Aquatics Centre.  At the completion ceremony, the International Olympic Committee Chairman Jacques Rogge said: “I have seen so many venues in my life but I had a visual shock when I came into the Aquatics Centre. Everything stands out: the harmony, the quality, the innovation. It’s a masterpiece!”

In addition to her architecturalarchitects sketch and design work she is a gifted artist – she has exhibited at New York’s Guggenheim and Modern Art museums – and also an academic.

Interviews with Zaha Hadid:

Zaha Hadid Talking About Challenges of Architecture

Uploaded on Apr 5, 2010

Zaha Hadid talks to JO Magazine about the challenges of architecture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcdvMm6c-fU

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What is New? – Zaha Hadid

Uploaded on Jan 11, 2012

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid has added several projects to her international portfolio: the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the Evelyn Grace Academy and the London Aquatics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7j7gTBqijA

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ZAHA HADID – TWIRL

Uploaded on Apr 15, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cb3PoRzS_w

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Building the unbuildable – Zaha Hadid

Uploaded on May 7, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr9P3EWYPiA

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Building the unbuildable – Zaha Hadid

Published on Jun 23, 2012

This year, the Guardian invited award-winning architect Zaha Hadid to Cannes Lions to speak about her own creativity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujFMRrSmIek

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OMEGA Ladymatic presents CNN’s Leading Women – Zaha Hadid

Published on Oct 11, 2012

Leading Women, a CNN television series that connects its viewers to extraordinary women at the top of their chosen fields, is sponsored by OMEGA Ladymatic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2ZN5quZdfg

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Zaha Hadid | Galaxy SOHO Beijing

Published on Nov 6, 2012 

Last weekend, in the heart of Beijing, the unveiling of the amorphous globes of Zaha Hadid’s Galaxy SOHO stunned visitors with the office and retail complex’s radical aesthetic. Beijing’s rapid economic growth has thrust the cityscape into a continuous battle between ever-climbing modern high rises, and the traditional, winding alleyways, unique to the capital city. Crane.tv meets Hadid to hear about her newest structural feat, and collect the thoughts of the building’s wide-eyed neighbours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOD8i8dJysM

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Zaha Hadid on song: China’s Guangzhou Opera House

Uploaded on Mar 8, 2011

Jonathan Glancey explores Guangzhou’s glittering, intergalactic new opera house, designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid and opened last weekend. Sixteen years after a similar project in Wales ground to a halt, she explains why Cardiff’s loss is China’s gain

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OgaaY62CTo

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Zaha Hadid: Complete Works, 1979-2009

        Zaha Hadid: Form in Motion (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

12 awesome ARCHITECTURE websites

architecture websites copy

There are so many great architecture resources online I thought I would share my favorite architecture websites.  These websites feature modern and contemporary architecture and include great photos and information on new projects around the world.

I love to look at these websites and now you can too.

These are not inclusive of all architecture websites – just some of my favorites.  listed in alphabetical order. 

12 awesome ARCHITECTURE websites architecture groupie’s will love:

archdaily.com

archgroupie.com

archidose.blogspot.ca

archinect.com

architonic.com/nttre/architecture

contemporist.com

designboom.com/architecture

detail-online.com/architecture

fastcodesign.com

inhabitat.com/architecture

mocoloco.com/fresh2/architecture

thecoolhunter.net/architecture

wallpaper.com/architecture

AND don’t forget to check out:

 ebook image-reducedArchitecture Travel: a how to guide

Interior Architectural Photography TIPS

Getting the best architectural interior photo is not always easy there are many challenges such as lighting, tight space, obstructions, and people.  Professional photographers have many tools and expensive photography equipment to get perfect interior photograph and often some control over these challenges.  However, like me, most of you probably do not have a lot of photography equipment when traveling and pretty much no control over the lighting and people.

Here are some tips to get you the best interior architectural photo possible.

  • Spend a few moments to determine what elements of the space are important to capture
  • Compose the photo on an angle so the camera is not facing a wall but rather into a corner OR if the space is symmetrical try taking a photo at the center of the room to emphasize the symmetry.

The slight angle in this photo’s composition helped showcase the sloping ceiling and angels of the room (Taliesin West, Scottsdale, left).
Due to the perfect symmetry of this space and photo was intended to exaggerate the symmetry (Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York, right)

Look up – some buildings are all about the ceilings but if you never look up you will never know.
  • Don’t use a flash – unless you really know what you are doing and have a good external flash I wouldn’t bother, likely the flash will produce hot spots and unwanted reflections.
  • Interior shots can be better when the camera is about 5 feet off the ground –  When we hold our cameras high we get more tabletop and floor but lowering the camera and tilt it up slightly will result in seeing more of the space – try shooting from different heights, you will be surprised how much difference it makes.
  • Include People – sometimes waiting for everyone to get out of the shot is a lost opportunity.  People show scale and interaction with the architecture – if you leave your lens open a bit longer the people, if moving, will be blurred so they will be a bit out of focus and not necessarily the focal point.  This can be done in Photoshop too later as well

This photo wouldn’t have scale or meaning without the two people praying

  • Shoot in JPEG and RAW – Unless you are running out of room on your memory card it is good to have both.  RAW images allow for much more control over the post-production process but not every shot needs to be modified and so the JPEG is perfect.
  • Always try to keep your ISO as low as possible and adjust your white balance appropriately.  Try to avoid shooting into florescent lights and mixing lighting types (I know easier said then done but it is good to keep in mind.  Different light gives off different color which can make a mess of your photo).
  • A tripod is always ideal for interior photography however often that is just not possible.  If the light is dim and you need to leave your shutter open try to find somewhere to set your camera down.  There are a few alternatives to the giant tripods such as The POD or the The Monsterpod.

The Pod Red Bean Bag Camera Support  supports compact cameras, advanced point and shoot cameras, camcorders, DSLRs with a short focal length lens, microphones, etc. It is built-in 1/4″ camera mount and provides support on regular or irregular surface like rocks, benches, cars, on the ground, etc

Joby GPM-A1EN GorillaPod Magnetic Flexible Tripod (Black) is a flexible tripod designed for digital cameras weighing up to 9.7 ounces (325 grams), it fits into your purse, backpack, or jacket pocket, Innovative segmented leg design to ensure secure mounting and has a standard universal 1/4-20 screw for attaching your camera to the tripod mount.

  • If you can’t find anywhere to place the camera down try leaning against a wall and holding the camera tight to your body (exhale before you take your shot). You can always fix some composition and rotate the photos later but blur cannot be fixed.
    • Left hand holding the camera, fingers softly gripping the lens
    • Right hand is used for controlling the camera settings
    • Elbows together, pressing on the chest
    • Camera firmly against the forehead, head leaning towards the camera

Photos by:  www.expertphotography.com/how-to-hold-a-camera

  • An ultra wide-angle lens will distort at the edges of the photograph so although you can usually get a lot more of the space in your photo it will look distorted and sometimes curved at the edges.  In many types of photography such as landscapes this is not a big deal but in architectural photography straight lines can make or break the photograph.  Wide-angle lens are also expensive.

My suggestion is using a standard lens; mine is an 18 to 55mm and take a series of overlapping photos.  Each photo should overlap at least 1/3 of the frame.  Focus your lens and then turn your lens auto-focus off.  When you get home you can use the photomerge tool in Photoshop to blend all the photos into one photograph.

This is an outdoor photo however I was unable to get the entire space in a single frame due to the space restrictions so it was take in five separate photos and stitched together in Photoshop using the photomerge tool.

(The previous tip is intended for DSLR cameras however if you have a point and shoot, many new point and shoot cameras have a panorama setting – check your manual to maximize the features.)

Interior architectural photography is not easy but practice makes perfect. Try some of these techniques in your home so you become comfortable with interior architectural photography.

Let me know if this helps or you have any tips you would like to share.

architecture JARGON: two

…Talk like an architect continued

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

 

Balance [bal-uhns]:  Always a goal for architect creating balance can be done most easily with symmetry however asymmetrical architecture can still obtain balance.  Architectural balance is concerned with the arrangement and proportioning of mass to obtain visual equilibrium.

The balance of the CCTV building in beijing changes dramatically as you move around it. 
Flickr Photos by Ningbo Ningbo

Occupant experience:  This term is a way of empathizing with how users of the building will understand the space.

Permeability of the space:  This is a very architectural way of describing that there is easy movement / flow / connection (visual or physical) between multiple spaces without describing in anyway how this is done.  For example the exterior walls of the SOHO Camper store is permeable because there are a number of means to access the store from the street and the street from the store, therefore this is a highly permeable space.

 

The entire facade blurs the line between interior and exterior on the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York.
The Prada Store in Los Angeles by Rem Koolhaas completely deletes the front facade, this retail space has maximum permeability to the street.
 

Form [fawrm]:  A clearly defined area, material, configuration, shape while not specifically describing it at all, thus being generic and specific simultaneously. The form of architecture is typically clear.  When an architect or architecture is said to be ‘formal’ it refers being designed based on the outcome of the building form rather than other driving forces such as building function (functionalism) or experience.

Mies van der Rohe is a prime example of a formal architect whereas Koolhaas is less so.

This is the Architecture Centre Amsterdam.

Functionalism [fuhngk-shuh-nl-iz-uhm]:  This is an architectural style where the building function, materials, purpose and construction is expressed and is the driving force of the design.  Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function” in the 1920s which transformed the aesthetic of architecture and became a mantra for the modern movement.

Typology:  A way to classifying architecture by type.  For example residential, institutional, schools, recreational, and so forth.
 

Architectonics [ar-ki-tek-ton-iks]:  The science of architecture / the science of planning and constructing buildings.

Peter Zumthor at work

model posing as an architect at work

 to be continued…

Architect’s Chairs

Every architect needs a SIGNATURE CHAIR and their modern chairs embody their design aesthetic and creative process. Chair are not a far departure from architecture, in fact in many ways a chair requires the same spatial consideration and informs as much response from the user as architecture does.  If you haven’t spent much time thinking about chair design it is worth some reflection. Chairs can reinforce the architecture of a space as well as how that space is to be used.  Does the chair allow for a relaxing or is it straight formal.  Does the chair look comfortable or sculptural appropriate more to be looked at then used.

Take a look at these chairs… can you see the resemblance in the architecture?

Mies van der Rohe

Barcelona Chair vs Barcelona Pavilion

Eero Saarinen

Tulip Chair vs TWA Airport

Alvar Aalto

Paimio Chair vs. Baker House

Daniel Libeskind

Diamond Chair vs The ROM

Ray and Charles Eames

Lounge Chair vs. Case Study House 8

Zaha Hadid

Z Chair vs MAXXI Museum

  

Maya Lin

Stones vs. Vietnam Memorial

Frank Lloyd Wright

Barrel Chair vs Guggenheim

Gerrit Rietveld

Red and Blue Chair vs The Rietveld Schröder House

Richard Neutra

Boomerang Chair vs Kaufmann House

 

Frank Gehry

Cardboard Armchair vs. Vitra Design Museum

 

Le Corbusier

Chaise vs Notre Dame du Haut

If you love chairs as much as most architecture groupies do here are a few MUST HAVE books to quench your thirst for more beautifully designed chairs:

Furniture by Architects: From Aalto to Zumthor poses such questions as: do architects design differently to product designers? Do they exhibit any consistent aesthetic preferences? Is there something typically architectural in their designs? Furniture by Architects features works by Alvar Aalto, Ron Arad, Gae Aulenti, Karl Bertsch, Emil Beutinger, Marcel Breuer, Pierre Chareau, Egon Eiermann, El Lissitsky, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Walter Gropius, Zaha Hadid, Marc Held, Josef Hoffmann, Arne Jacobsen, Le Corbusier, Daniel Libeskind, Gio Ponti, Richard Riemerschmid, Gerrit Rietveld, Eero Saarinen, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, O.M. Ungers, Mies van der Rohe, Otto Wagner, Frank Lloyd Wright and Peter Zumthor, among others.

Fifty Chairs That Changed the World takes an up-close look at chair designs that have had the greatest impact on the look and feel of modern interiors.

 

 

How To Design a Chair tells you everything you need to know and looks at the principles and processes of designing a chair, from its symbolic and functional properties to materials and mass-production techniques. In a working case study Konstantin Grcic, one of the world’s best-known furniture designers, traces the design and development of one of his most successful chairs – the Myto – from start to finish and reveals what it takes to create a successful design.

which chair is your favorite, would you sit in any of these?

Visit architectureGROUPIE.com a Modern and Contemporary Architecture Travel Guide

how to document your architecture experience

how to document your architecture experience…. video, photo, words, sketch, writing…

There are so many ways to capture your experience of architecture.  Each method offers different benefits as well as different levels of authenticity.  A photograph or video can be thought to come closest to reality however even they are subjective and are not exact replications after all photography replicates a 3-dimensional object in 2-dimensions and weakly represents movement and time, video can do that but still lacks documenting the many other senses we use to describe architecture (related topic:  How do we EXPERIENCE ARCHITECTURE).  So how can we authentically represent our architectural experiences?

Simple – we don’t…

There are two main filters our experience of architecture will go through before it can be documented:  our personal subjectivity and the media we choose to represent it

Subjectivity is our interpretation, understanding and opinion of space and architecture which can be highly influenced by the personal experience you have at that given time.  How we understand and perceive space can vary greatly from one person to the next.  Projects which create strong reaction, both positive and negative are successful, in my opinion, because they hit a nerve and force viewers to stop and think a minute.  Good architecture can make you ultra-aware of the space you are in and the moment so your reaction and impression of the architecture is just as important to capture as the architecture itself.

Selecting a media to document will edit what you can represent and how you choose to document the experience says so much about what your perception is.  Have fun and be creative with your documentation, exploring will help you learn and enjoy the architecture in a deeper and richer sense.  Here are some suggestions to help you think twice about just taking a photo:

VIDEO:

Helps to capture the sounds and movement through the spaces

SKETCH:

In colour or pencil, with pens or markers, Fast or slow, accurate or free, scribbles or lines, shaded or outlines

messy sketch, done fast, i like the curve of this building so i just looked at representing that moment in the building.

i took a bit more time with this sketch and trying to use strong continuous lines to describe the architectural details

PHOTOS:

Architectural Photography can serve several objectives, knowing what your objective is will produce a collection of photos that will be useful for you in the future and will help direct your photographic decisions while on site.

See my previous post:  The Intention of Architectural Photography

WORDS:

words that describe the space and how you feel – these don’t need to be full sentences
describe the materials, use adjectives

WRITE:

journal entries such as the ones I have posted online help recall specific moments that can be forgotten.

architectural travel entry: one

architectural travel entry: two

architectural travel entry: three

architectural travel entry: four

architectural travel entry: five

architectural travel entry: six

SOUND CLIPS:

Document your thoughts while you walking around (you can get an app for your smartphone, there are even programs that can transcript them for you.
Sound clips are also great to capture music or acoustic qualities

COLLAGE:

Use objects you have found to represent the architecture

  • this is a crude collage i made of a restaurant i went to in Prague, the waiter took us through a maze of small dinning rooms and corridors before we were seated. I still don’t know how we found my way out

OTHER:

I used a thick piece of lead to telegraphy the pattern of leaves from the concrete facade of this building.

I like to collect all the tickets and booklets – they come in handy to help remember all the great places i visited and on what day.

The options are endless… it is your subjectivity and selected media that makes the documentation of your architectural experiences an artistic expression.

If you have any other suggestions please share it with us.

 

 

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architectural travel entry: six

I have been here before but I can never get enough. the darkness of the enormous interior is interrupted only by one large cut in the massive concrete dome which is filled with blinding light. I follow the light cast across the perfect proportions of the space into the depths of the coffered panels which create an intense spotlight. I remember from school the geometric drawings to obtain these proportions and the technical terms for the architectural elements and the mysterious uses of this space over the centuries.

But the duality between light and dark is so extreme here I don’t pay any attention to anything but the ceiling and how this light seeps into the darkness of this massive heavy fortress.

I watch others entering this space and are forced to look up to the oculus, everything else is lost to its power. Although the interior is draped in marble and the ornamentation, the magic here is the dome and oculus alone.

The Pantheon – Rome

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles Eames:  Born in St. Louis, 1907, studied architecture at Washington University.  In 1936 began his fellowship at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan, during this time he collaborated with Eero Saarinen on furniture design.  The team won first place in MoMA’s ‘Organic Design in Home Furnishings’ competition.

Bernice Alexander Kaiser (name changed to Ray in 1954):  Born in Sacramento, California, 1933, studied painting at The Arts Students League and the Hans Hoffman School in New York.  In 1940 began school at Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan where she met Charles.

Charles and Ray Eames where married in 1941, moved to Los Angeles and “began the greatest husband-and-wife collaboration of the century” (Fiell 141).

Case Study House No. 8

Pacific Palisades, California, 1945 to 1949

The Eames House is a double-storey unit divided into house and studio areas by an open court.
Made of light steel frame, standard 7 foot 6 inch bays, with sashes and panels from standard industrial components utilized in a straightforward and workmanlike way.  Materials such as: transparent panels, clear or wired glass; translucent panels of glass fibre, opaque panels of wood and coloured aluminum  were used for the building shell.  The interior was filled with furniture, flowers, pillows, toys, candles, with a mezzanine and built-in
seats, and bookcases.

This house was designed for a living pattern and not as a fixed architectural pattern.

Design Philosophy:

They could not see why the living, moving, outward-rounded human form should have to be flattened against a rigid, straight surface, or pressed down on an arbitrarily curved one when sitting or lounging.  Chair seats and back should be sculpted to fit and conform to body movements.

The Eames strived to create well-designed furniture for the masses which was affordable, durable and comfortably fit the body thus providing a positive house environment.
Their chairs belong to the occupants, not to the building.

They began working with fiberglass in the 1950s because it could be easily manipulated, creating a one-piece chair which was mass produced for Herman Miller Co. with Zenith Plastics and UCLA.
The Plastic Shell Group of chairs were made of molded fiberglass-reinforced polyester seat shell connected to various metal rod bases, with rubber shock-mounts, some were designed to be stack-able.

New technologies were fundamental as well as close relationships with manufactures to ensure they employed the latest products and techniques.
Charles and Ray were thorough and vigorous in their process.

Ray Eames stated that “what works is better than what looks good.  The ‘look good’ can change, but what works, works.”

Eames Plywood Work:

Lounge Chair and Ottoman,
1956-7, ($634 in 1957, today $5500 )
The comfortable executive chair is made of rosewood veneer, moulded plywood shells, upholstered foam and downfilled and leather cover on a swivelling cast aluminium base.

“This differs from bent plywood in that there is no excessive compression or internal stresses set up nor any tendency to return to the flat shape.

At the time of curing the individual plys of veneer are held in the desired relation to each other and so take the molded contour as their natural shape.”

Charles and Ray created a one-piece compound curved chair through the use of their homemade ‘Kazam’ Machine.  It worked by pushing glued plys, with a bicycle pump, against an electrically  heated plaster mold creating the curved plywood chair.  This process worked but took
4 to 6 hours, too long for mass production.

Process & Technique:

Eames Sketches

Charles and Ray experimented on innovative methods of molding plywood into furniture for mass production.  Their designs are molded in two directions creating compound curves from thin veneers laminated together, achieving considerable strength.

Designs were explored with full scale models from preliminary sketches, working drawings were rare.  These models under went scrutinized testing for comfort and durability.

In 1941 The Chrysler Corporation invented a process called cycle-welding which allowed wood to be joined to rubber, glass or metal, without protruding bolts or screws, this connection absorbs shock and distribute stress.  However at this time the technology was reserved for the military.  Eventually the use of Rubber Shock Mounts and Electronic Cycle Welding became available and applied to their designs.
This same process was used to mass produce the molded-plywood forms.  A synthetic resin was placed between each sheet of laminated timber, allowing each layer to cure for a few seconds while heat is supplied by a wave emission from an electronic instrument.

The mechanical components are displayed but not glorified, they believed that it was appropriate to make the greatest use out of the least amount of material.

Charles Eames stated “I think of myself officially as an architect.  I can’t help but look at problems around us as problems of structure-and structure is architecture”

Bibliography:

      

Charles and Ray Eames: Designers of the Twentieth Century

Eames Design

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Charles Eames. Furniture from the Design Collection. The Museum of Modern art, New York

architecture JARGON: one

Talk like an architect.

Architects have a particular language to describe and discuss architecture – this isn’t purely to sound smart or pretentious but rather to convey ideas and express the meaning of built form.

Here is a lexicon of words to help you discuss architecture and understand architects:

Human scale:  The relationship and measurable qualities of the human body as it relates to architecture.  The human body’s scale and proportion has been studied since Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man or Le Corbusier’s Modular Man.  How the body’s relationship with, or the lack thereof, is often intentional and is present in all architecture.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man

Le Corbusier’s
Modular Man

 

The National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Bangledesh (right).  Notice the building has no frame of reference to the size a person.  The image on the top could appear to be big or small.  This building, for the most part lacks human scale. 

Juxtaposition [juhk-stuh-puh-zish-uhn]:  This is when two or more architectural objects are located close together or next to one another for comparison and/or contrast.  This is commonly seen with new architecture next to historic architecture.  This is also a technique that can be applied to one very large building to break it down into smaller components which have differing materials, scale, and/or form.

Quartier Schützenstrasse, Berlin by Aldo Rossi.  The large building is broken down by colour and form.

Legibility:  The ability of being deciphered or understood.  In architecture this typically refers to way-finding which is how easily users can understand their environment and find their way within it.  If a large number of signs are required to decipher where to go the architectural legibility is poor.

Synergy [sin-er-jee]:  When the combination of parts or components creates a greater effect than any individual element.  This is typically the case for any good architecture but this word seems to get thrown around a lot.

Columniation:   The arrangement of columns.

Treptow Krematorium, Berlin by Axel Schultes, Charlotte Frank, Christoph Witt.  Its all about the columns.

Intercolumniation:  The space between columns.  The pattern of spacing between columns.

Squarify:  To make more square. (This is not a really word.  FYI:  architects love to make all words verbs)

Negotiate the Topography:  To change levels, to go up or down stairs or ramp.

(I guess sometimes architects like to sound pretentious sometimes)

Tectonics [tek-ton-iks]:  The science or art of assembling, shaping, or ornamenting materials in construction; the constructive arts in general.  A general term for the theory and techniques of construction.

Materiality [muh-teer-ee-al-i-tee]:  A way to create form and space via the nature or quality of materials used in architecture.  Materials can be the driving force behind the design of architecture, where the architect studies materials and techniques and thus form a building from the maximization of their effect.  In modern architecture material honesty is at its essence.

   

Ricola Factory by Herzog and de Meuron (masters of materiality)

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Space [speys]:  A loaded word which could be discussed at length but in short it is the formation and realization of a constructed three-dimensional realm.   In architecture space is physically or implicitly enclosed by the constructed form to create specific experiences and qualities.

The Pantheon, Rome.  One of the most dramatic interior spaces due to the geometric proportions.

to be continued…