Accepted Paper:

Drawing as environmental revelation: sketching plans and sections in modernist landscape architectural design  


Margot Lystra (Cornell University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on landscape theory and science and technology studies, this paper analyzes how U.S. modernist landscape architects' design practices cultivated plan and section sketching as a practice of environmental revelation, in dynamic relationship with living others and natural forces.

Paper long abstract:

From the early twentieth century to the present, landscape architects have used drawing and making practices to enact design process as a form of dynamic, revelatory interrelationship with the materialities and living qualities of landscapes. These designers have engaged techniques such as sketching interrelated plan, section, and perspective views in order to locate themselves in multiple roles and relationships at once: as active mediators of living forces and material flows, as virtual bodies situated within the space of the drawing, and as participants in the becoming of the sites under design. Such practices have been handed down over time, evolving with political shifts, disciplinary trends, and technological advances. They have also remained largely tacit: sometimes alluded to in writing and discussion, but primarily manifested in the many small actions of designing. As such, their cultural capacities remain relatively unarticulated. Using 1930s-60s U.S. modernist landscape architects' plan and section sketching practices as a case study, this paper cross-references landscape theory discourse regarding the revelatory dimensions of drawing with science and technology (STS) discussions of enactment and interspecies relationships, in order to elucidate how landscape architectural drawing techniques construct the bodily actions of drawing as communication with the multiple agents and agencies of real-world sites. The resulting account demonstrates the environmental dimensions of certain modernist design practices, and models the use of STS-based frameworks in praxiographic analyses of architectural drawing.

Panel P055
The Anthropology of Drawing