An Analytical Comparison of Drawing by Hand and Computer in Architectural Design Process

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran


The importance of drawing by hand in architectural design process is undoubtedly clear. Nevertheless, different computer software for drawing and designing in the field of architecture are growing rapidly and the confrontation of these two different types of drawing has become an important subject of discussion, which needs to be addressed analytically. This article attempts to analyze the use and benefits of computer-aided drawing in architectural design while revising the concept of hand drawing and its role in architectural design process. The author has concluded that focusing on the nature of drawing by hand and computer and the role of each in the process of designing can make it possible to create more clear perspective concerning the predominance of drawing by hand or computer in architectural design process. Thus, the article has three parts. In the first part, the concept and goals of drawing, its different types and uses in three major phases of design process - i.e. Recording, Data Analysis and Designing - are revised. This study shows that drawing by hand has proven its proficiency through different activities used in three main phases of design process; while in some skills it seems to be time and energy consuming, there are some other skills in which drawing plays a key role in the creative process of designer’s mind. In the second part, the concept of computer-aided drawing and its different applications in the field of architectural drawing is briefly revised and the role of drawing with computer is studied in the same three steps of architectural design process. The result shows that the efficiency of computer drawing software in different phases is variable. Drawing by computer is more efficient in time and energy consuming skills such as data analysis, producing comparative alternatives, technical drawing, and final visualization, while in skills dealing mostly with creative process of mind, computer software cannot rival the human mind. Finally, in the third part, the role of drawing by hand and computer are compared. This comparison shows that in different skills applied in design process, drawing by hand is more useful in those which are in close relation with creative process of mind, while in skills related to complicated analysis and visualization, drawing by computer is more advantageous. Thus, drawing by hand and computer can make an efficient combinational system in which computer can play its integrated role in the hands of designer. The deductive conclusion is that the analytical study of the role of drawing in design process is necessary for achieving the result; if computer be considered as a tool serving designer in his creative mind for realizing his new ideas, its true role and position in architectural design process will be clarified. The result of this study provides a theoretical basis for facing the use of various new computer software in the field of architectural drawing and tries to lead it towards combination with hand skills to achieve the final goals of architectural design.   


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