The importance of early design sketches in architectural education
Authors: Rice, Susan ; Purcell, Terry
ABSTRACT: This paper aims to develop a scholarly understanding of early design sketches, which
when applied to design education, offers helpful insights as to how these seminal drawings are made
and used to initiate and progress the early stages of a design.
Drawing in a multitude of forms, has long been considered a tool of thinking for architects. The
significant role the earliest design sketches have in giving visual expression to the architects’ formative
insights and emerging ideas, suggests they should be of particular relevance to students and to
architectural design education. The paper illustrates that through studying the early sketches of certain
masterful architects and eminent local practitioners who are highly skilled at such drawing, it is possible
to develop a scholarly understanding of early sketches, making evident their underlying characteristics
and associated usages.
The paper goes on to outline a wider phenomenographic research project that has as its aim, the
identification of educationally critical aspects of early sketching, which may assist students to align their
understanding and usage of such drawings more closely with those of masterful architects. These
aspects could inform changes to both teaching practices in the design studio and current presentation
orientated drawing curriculums.