Drawings tell your story more vividly and instantaneously than any amount of text.
From Palladio to Gordon Cullen, drawings have either been the anvil on which elaborate architectural conceptions have been forged or the tool to observe and analyse what is; to learn.
If you want to engage the people, its drawings every time.
Pencil drawings have an authenticity which can evade the ubiquitous, photoshopped image in this era of fake news and hyped headlines.
The viewpoint is critical.
The most engaging of all is the perspective. One of the great discoveries of the early renaissance under the obsessive search light of Paulo Uccello and later Raphael, this drawing type has never lost its power. Neglected at times, yes.
As you move away from this view, perhaps upwards towards a birds eye view and further, the third dimension fades to two and you get the diagram. Further and you are in cartographers paradise. The land of mapping and red lines beloved of the planning profession and geographers. As the visuals become more abstract, the message conveyed is likely to go over the heads of the neighbourhood forum and the role of the professional turns to a more high priestly function.
Interpretation from an ‘expert’ is needed, often working to his own advantage or that of his paymasters. This is how it used to be, but with the increased levels of awareness of the citizenry this is no longer so.
You now have two problems to deal with.
Firstly the vision is looking too fait accompli and resistance is rising. Secondly, authenticity is running dry and you are now in danger of losing ‘buy-in’ by the minute with the locals feeling like bystanders with no influence over the process.
The pencil can reverse both.
If you are serious about engaging the community and any of the other stakeholders for that matter, get your pencil out. With it you can illustrate the vision in a way that can be understood whilst showing that the process is still in the early stage and can be influenced.
There have been occasions in our experience when ignoring the vast output of maps, plans, photographs and text, key Counsellors have entered the workshop and have headed straight to the hastily produced perspectives to immediately proclaim ‘This is the vision!’. This was followed on one occasion by a request to have the originals framed for hanging in the Council Offices.
The likelihood is that these were the only images they understood. It is dangerous to assume you are out to impress other professionals.
The architect Jim Stirling discovered Post Modernism and became its most eloquent advocate. When speaking at the Architectural Association he was in the habit of referring to his ‘full frontal up view’. Even as an architectural student sitting on the front row squinting at the slide, this deconstructed view of his latest building project would visually flip backwards and forwards as your mind tricked your eye into seeing a birds eye view and a worms eye view simultaneously. Now this is a bit of fun for the architects but a sure fire way of disengaging with lay observers in a neighbourhood planning workshop.
So choosing your viewpoint is important to convey the right messages on a number of levels, especially in the public arena where the role of the design professional is gradually changing to that of facilitator requiring a different level of communication.
If you would like to know how to unite your planning concepts and engagement strategy with the appealing visual reality you wish to communicate, look no further. There is no need to wait till the plans are finalised. That’s the beauty of the pencil sketch. Two of the drawings shown here illustrate semi rural locations where sensitivities can run high for new development. Each drawing relates to masterplans which are in process and I will touch on how the two interrelate in a future article.
Whether you are establishing or perfecting your masterplan or its visualisation, you can apply for a free telephone consultation.
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