Designed in Moleskine’s iconic style that has long been appreciated for it’s pure material beauty, a new architecture series, Inspiration and Process, features sketches by four renowned architects and practices: Bolles+Wilson, Giancarlo De Carlo, Zaha Hadid and Alberto Kalach. Covered in light grey cardboard tied with Moleskin’s signature elastic strap, the books feature each architect’s drawings and sketches along with interviews and essays.
As a pioneer of digital architecture in the Eighties, the Hadid book reveals her attitude towards the current movement of parametric architecture in which she now leads the world. As a means of architectural production, hand-drawn sketches on paper are the nostalgic process for her. Hadid argues computation increasingly simplifies the production process, spatial discoveries decrease and it is rather barren compared to those in the pre-digital age. ‘Now there is sameness and far fewer surprises – you don’t get so many layers of discovery,’ she expounds in her interview.
In an accompanying essay in the book, Marco Sammicheli, a PhD and researcher at the Politecnico di Milano, focuses on multicultural influences on her work. Arabic and Chinese calligraphy and Russian suprematism, in which she had great interest, can clearly be seen to affect her pictorial representations for her 2010 Stirling Prize-winning MAXXI, Rome’s Museum of XXI Century Arts.
The way Alberto Kalach considers sketches, as a means of spatial exploration, is markedly different from Hadid. In the wide range of his projects, from minimal houses such as the palapa – an open-sided ocean-front dwelling with a thatched roof in Acapulco– to urban planning such as housing blocks spanning mangroves in Cancun, most of his sketches are hand drawn with dynamic, fine and even sensual pencil lines. In an age where digital tools are an inevitable part of the architectural design process, Kalach clearly appreciates the immediacy of hand-drawings as a way in which he can most appropriately convey the spaces.
Architects never have the ‘blank sheet’ of paper as the initial condition of a site. The zestful strokes and colouring in Kalach’s sketches are redolent of the explosive natural context in the city, to which he attempts to integrate his imaginary architecture with utmost respect and empathy towards nature. ‘Under the magnificent geography and the landscape the question is how to touch it; where it will hurt less,’ he says.
Each of these books reveals the unique perspective of the architect. Hadid reminisces about the deep and creative spatial explorations in the process of paper drawings within the current hegemony of parametric architecture; Kalach still believes in the imaginary integration of an existing context and an architect’s vision gained through strokes and marks on paper. Amid the confusion of what is ‘real’, continuously altered by emerging 3D modelling software and algorithmic systems to generate architecture without any tangible medium, perhaps these books are a timely reminder of the power of the tangible and the immediate, as we advance into the post-digital age.
Inspiration and Process in Architecture, Published by Moleskin, £24.99