Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten: Sketch modelling

Oliver Lütjens and Thomas Padmanabhan

Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten, Model of House Binningen II, Binningen, Switzerland, 2014. Foam board and coloured paper. © Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten.

Hard lead pencils are unforgiving and require concentration, precision and humility when drawing with them. By using a hard lead the painterly effect associated with soft pencil sketches is avoided, with their tolerance to imprecision and visual sloppiness. Sketching with a hard lead requires focus. The joy of drawing a precise line on paper can feel like cutting with a knife. The line divides the white surface of the paper, creating a sensation of beauty.

In our practice the act of sketching has reappeared disguised as a model making. We design and discuss our most complex facades directly through 1:50 foam board models. When building a model we enjoy the sensation of cutting openings into a piece of foam board with a knife, and the experience of inflicting an injury to its surface, while watching how the figure of a door or window appears. After a while, the eye of the observer accepts the wound made by the cut, and visually heals the wall surface around the opening. A model makes immediately apparent the wonderful architectural paradox that cutting openings into a wall actually strengthens its surface.