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Book Review: Draw In Order to See

"Reaffirming the Essential Role of Drawing in Design"

Draw In Order to See
A Cognitive History of Architectural Design
$34.95     ISBN: 978-1-943532-83-4

Review by Michael Crosbie, Common Edge

IN 2012, the Yale School of Architecture held a conference on the topic of drawing. It posed a couple of provocative questions: Was the study and practice of architecture already beyond it? Was it is even necessary to draw in order to be an architect? Mark Alan Hewitt’s new book, Draw in Order to See (ORO Editions), is a resounding affirmation that not only must architects draw, they cannot help but do so—it’s like breathing. The connection between the hand and the eye, between a soft pencil and a toothy sheaf of paper, is how architects, in fact, “see.”

As it turns out, human beings are wired this way, as Hewitt demonstrates in this broad, well-researched, and absorbing cognitive history of architectural design. He writes about how research in neuroscience has uncovered the creative act as a conversation between our interior selves and the external world. Our brains have evolved to compare our store of embodied experiences in the world, the images we carry with us, and our personal memories as raw materials for the invention of new forms, visions, amalgamations, and realms beyond us. Hewitt quotes the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa to open and close his book with insights that go to the very core of what architects do when they draw by hand: “I want to see, that’s why I draw.” “I can see an image only if I draw it.” (continue reading at Common Edge)