Accepted Paper:

The Architect's Drawing as an Instrument of Taste-making  
Yvette Putra (University of Melbourne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper proposes that the architect's drawing often functions as an instrument of taste-making, and uses examples by twentieth-century Australian architects. This paper concludes with the possibilities of the architect's drawing in understanding the taste-making aspects of different contexts.

Paper long abstract:

Questions of taste, and corresponding tensions between 'good' and 'bad' taste, are old and familiar ground, particularly in Western thought. This paper proposes that the architect's drawing, as a distinct cultural product, is often more than an architect's instructions for building, or even record of historical precedent, as the architect's drawing may be, also, an instrument of taste-making. This is supported by, first, the unique relationship between architect and client, as described by Niels L Prak (1984), and, second, the characteristics of taste itself, where, as Garry Stevens argued, "[t]aste is the prime mechanism by which privileged groups can maintain their cohesion and separate themselves from outsiders" (1998). An architect may use drawing to argue for 'correct' aesthetics, as reflected in Herbert J Gans' theory of "taste cultures", as the architect's drawing may communicate "values and standards of taste and aesthetics" (1974). This paper explores the nature of the architect's drawing as an instrument of taste-making, then considers examples by twentieth-century Australian architects who used drawing to probe questions of taste in Australian architecture. These questions were underpinned by a deeper search for authenticity and identity in a relatively young nation, which has had to contend with both its colonial British heritage, as well as place in the Asian and Oceanic geographic spheres. This paper concludes with the possibilities of understanding the taste-making aspects of different places and times, through similar readings of the architects' drawings produced in those contexts.

Panel P004
Architecture and Anthropology