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Pure design is in full bloom

Architectural drawing goes optimistic

Colour! We have colour! And lots of it. Our Eye Line drawing competition this year – its fourth – bursts out multi-chromatic. Not that we have rejected the glorious possibilities of pen and pencil illustration that for many is still the foundation of architecture, able to communicate moods ranging from dark dystopian angst to light-filled uplift. But still, students and practitioners alike seem to be moving towards a different kind of depiction of architecture, one influenced as much by book and magazine illustration as it is by the exigencies of plan, section and elevation.

This year as ever, we had entries from around the world – with an encouragingly strong showing from American schools, allowing transatlantic comparisons – and found that, in the end, the best work this time came from those who combine teaching with practice. Our overall winners are Bartlett through and through and no strangers to awards for their (often colour-saturated) presentations. Our second winner, a Beijing-based architect, is to be found interrogating modern insertions in historic city fabric through the medium of multi-point and skewed vertical perspective. And our third, from the Cass school at London Met, takes a positive and detailed look at how Nepalese communities can rebuild after an earthquake. It draws on the natural resilience and optimism of the people our entrant met and talked to. (The second and third winners will be on the website on Monday, and the overall winner on Tuesday).

In our six commendations (we show three today and three more tomorrow) we find a Hopper-esque rural study, a surreal homage to Lebbeus Woods,  a positively Victorian celebration of sewage, a beguiling New Zealand landscape study, underground buildings inspired by the tunnelling technology of Crossrail and the forthcoming HS2, and finally, a drawing nodding to Carlo Scarpa that shows all the marks and overlays of the creative process including doodles, masking tape and coffee stains. It is the antithesis of the polished presentation.

For me Eye Line is one of the highlights of our year at the RIBA Journal, aptly blooming in full summer. This is pure architecture at a level of conceptual detail that is enormously impressive. Thanks to our sponsor AVR London – itself immersed in the field of architectural visualisation – and to our firm but fair judges Will Alsop, Jes Fernie, Amelia Hunter, Eric Parry, Joe Robson of AVR and – oh yes, me. I had the privilege of sorting through all 200-plus entries and 450-plus drawings and was constantly surprised, entertained and awestruck by the diversity and inventiveness on offer. So thank you, everyone, wherever you are in the world and whatever stage of your careers you are at.  Your attitude to architecture demonstrates hope, determination and joie de vivre. 

Skybadium & Hippodrome

Door and Draw

Boundary Conditions

Halls of Alchemy

Agricultural School

Subterranean Swimming Pool

Bungamati Studies, Nepal

Qilou Old Street

Tokyo Back-Up City

Imagination unchained


Our Exhibition of Winners and Commended Works is currently on display from 18 October - 29 October 2016 at:

Anise Gallery, 13a Shad Thames, London SE1 2PU

Opening times: Tues – Thurs & Sat: 11am – 5pm (Friday's by appointment)


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