Students starting out in any design field are usually limited in their creativity by what they already know. The first step is learning observation. When you can look at something like a chair, and see it as lines and shapes and values, then you have more creative possibilities for reimagining it.
In these online architecture classes, students also learn drafting. You might be wondering why drafting is still taught when virtually no one in the profession uses it anymore. It’s because the thought process and the relationship of objects is the same in CAD, or Computer Aided Design. Drafting by hand is more accessible to students and makes the concepts, such as orthographic projection, easier to learn. It also trains the hand to draw straight lines.
Spatial reasoning is another useful skill that students learn in these architecture classes. Learning to visualize a 3D object from a 2D drawing is essential to the field of architecture and design. Students also learn the conventions for representing a 3D object on a 2D page in plan, section, and elevation.
Three projects focus on these skills throughout the semester.
Project 1: Portrait Value Analysis
The Portrait Value Analysis project is an exercise in identifying line, shape, and value. Students select a photo of a person or pet and use the compositional principles we talk about to position and crop the photo. They identify the areas of different value, and draw lines to enclose the shapes which consist of a single value. Students use four values including white, and must interpret each shape in one of the four values. The values are rendered in one of the four shading techniques that the students learn (hatching, cross-hatching, scribbling, or stippling). The result is an abstract modeling of a three-dimensional figure.
Project 2: Building a Drawing / Drawing a Building
In this project, students draw a building or street scene from observation. They first learn to establish the structure of the drawing, then identify foreground, middleground, background, and focal point. Applying spatial depth cues, they represent a three-dimensional building and space on a two-dimensional page. Students add value and detail to create a finished architectural drawing.
Project 3: Treehouse on Stilts
In the final project of the first semester, students design a treehouse and represent it with a floor plan, elevations, a section, and a site diagram. Beginning with a 10 ft. x 10 ft. cube on 10 ft. high stilts, students use analytical drawing to manipulate the cube with additive and subtractive geometry. They consider function, conceptual form, and materials, and practice the conventions of orthographic drawing. The final drawings are done in ink.
Excelsior Classes provides a unique opportunity for your high school student to learn architecture and design online! Stay tuned for an overview of Architectural Drafting & Design II in another installment…
Melisa Kaiser is an architectural designer and homeschool mom of four. She completed an undergraduate degree in architecture at the University of Nebraska, and a Master of Architecture degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she received the Henry Adams Medal for graduating with highest honors. She studied high rise design, with an emphasis in energy efficiency and façade technology.