A Blueprint is... Blue

Jean-Charles Moreux, Design for a block of flats, Rue Gazan, Paris: front elevation, c. 1927, DM 2272.2  IN SET

In the interwar period, when blueprints were giving way to diazos, architectural offices often employed both methods of reproduction, even within the same scheme. An example is a set of copy drawings in the Drawing Matter Collections for a block of flats dated circa 1927 by the Parisian architect Jean-Charles Moreux (1889–1956). Although the project appears theoretical, Moreux’s set contains a plan without street names, but with a distinctively shaped lake in a park, thus locating the building on Rue Gazan, overlooking Parc Montsouris in Paris. In 1926–27, Moreux’s friend André Lurçat had constructed the Villa Guggenbhul with its large atelier window overlooking the other side of the park. Two drawings in the set are cyanotypes, seven are diazotypes. We can only speculate as to why certain drawings were chosen to be cyanotypes, others diazotypes – made at different times? at different locations? aesthetic option? But, most interestingly, one of the diazotypes is printed on draughting linen (drafting linen to our American friends), a bit of a rarity, but there must have been a reason, as cloth supports were usually used only for heavy handling. – Neil Bingham

Florian Beigel & Kisa Kawakami: Yokohama International Port Terminal Design Competition, 1994

Beigel Kawakami Architects, Yokohama International Port Terminal model, 1994

The 500-metre-long, gently sloping body of the new pier lifts itself up over the water. It glows from the inside like the body of a transparent fish with all its internal organs visible. A model was made with clear perspex and paper in layers, so that when it was photographed it partially dissolved, becoming almost invisible – an ethereal fabric of light. Below is a drawing of the plan of the upper deck. The long sloping surface was intended to be seen as an artificial landscape. In those days we often called this ‘landspace’ – the abstraction of landscape, or artificiality of land and of nature. Small pieces cut out from photocopies of aerial photos were laid down onto the delicate printed lines of the computer-drawn plan. Field dimensions, sunken patios with orchards, ramps descending from the large sloping deck, together were to become a garden of the horizon – giving the impression, we thought, of a skyscraper emerging from the sea. – Florian Beigel and Philip Christou

Studio Mumbai: Saastrata-Mahindra Tape Drawing, 2013

Bijoy Jain/Studio Mumbai

The idea of using tape drawings originated for climatic reasons: India goes through a five-month monsoon season each year, and during this time it is very humid. For us this meant that the drawings we were producing, which were printed on paper, had a very short lifespan. Lines would slowly start to blur, becoming difficult, if not impossible, to read, and eventually the paper would come apart. In an effort to find a solution, some of the carpenters came to me proposing plywood as an alternate medium, as it would respond better to the humidity. I was initially hesitant, arguing that plywood was undoubtedly going to be more expensive than paper. They showed me, however, that the expense of having often to reprint the drawings to replace the old faded ones, combined with the efforts to maintain plotters and printers, greatly surpassed the overall figure we would have been faced with had we been using plywood instead. So the method was developed in response to a practical issue as well as one of an economy of means: in the end, tape would last, modifications could occur and, most importantly, plywood could be recycled. – Bijoy Jain, Studio Mumbai 

Drawing Matter

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