FROM TAPE TO SPACE – Representational Drawings

  1. Representational Drawings

2.1          Why we need presentation drawings?

The key feature of a Representational drawing is to depict information about:

  • Describe how space might function
  • Describe visual (Colors, details, etc) and sensory (textures that felt by our body) features

There are several types of representational drawings which are commonly used in Architecture:

  • Presentation drawings: Drawings intended to explain a scheme and to promote its merits. Basic presentation drawings typically include people, vehicles and trees, dimensions, text labels describing spaces. These are more attractive in nature and is a made effective as much as possible to communicate architect’s design to a layman like client.

A sample presentation drawing is given above.

  • Measured Drawings / Record Drawings

These are actual measured drawings of existing land, structures and buildings. The main purpose is to record the building as it is. Such drawings will be used to:

  • Simply record the building’s structure, details, services, electrical installations, etc
  • For archaeological conservation work.
  • To be used as base drawings for renovation work of existing buildings

As-Built drawings are also a kind of measured drawing which is produced for each new building constructed. The primary reason is that actual building may differ from the original architectural drawings due to various circumstances.

  • Council Drawings / Permit Drawings

These are special set of drawings produced according to standards mandated by a particular authority (UDA/Municipal Council/etc). For an example, before attempting any construction on a land, the local authority of that area requires you to take permission for the construction.

This is done by submitting a drawing(s) which typically includes floor plans, two sections, front elevation, foundation details, site plan, door window schedule according to a scale acceptable by the local authority (i.e. 1:100 or 1:200 for large buildings).

These drawings are much more technical and shall include:

  • Dimensions of internal spaces
  • Dimensions from site boundary to the building
  • Building Line location
  • Label all spaces
  • Location of doors and windows including door/window tags which shall be read parallel to the door window schedule provided
  • Hand rail heights
  • Space heights / Floor to floor height
  • Total building height
  • Sizes of courtyards
  • Location of soakage pit and septic tank (If sewer is connected to main sewer line such as in Colombo, then the septic tank shall not be shown)
  • Other regulatory details where necessary

Once submitted, the drawing will be thoroughly checked by Technical Officers at the relevant Local Authority confirming that the building is according to the building regulations and the development plan of the relevant area (ex: Colombo Development Plan). If this test is passed, approval will be granted to proceed construction.

  • Working Drawings

A comprehensive set of drawings used in a building construction project: these will include not only architect’s drawings but structural, electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing engineer’s drawings etc. Working drawings logically subdivide into location, assembly and component drawings.

  • Location drawings, also called general arrangement drawings, include floor plans, sections and elevations: they show where the construction elements are located.
  • Assembly drawings show how the different parts are put together. For example, a wall detail will show the layers that make up the construction, how they are fixed to structural elements, how to finish the edges of openings, and how prefabricated components are to be fitted.
  • Component drawings enable self-contained elementsg. windows and doorsets, to be fabricated in a workshop, and delivered to site complete and ready for installation. Larger components may include roof trusses, cladding panels, cupboards and kitchens. Complete rooms, especially hotel bedrooms and bathrooms, may be made as prefabricated pods complete with internal decorations and fittings.
  • Detail Drawings (A Subset of the Working Drawing Family)

Detail drawings show a small part of the construction at a larger scale, to show how the component parts fit together. They are also used to show small surface details, for example decorative elements. Section drawings at large scale are a standard way of showing building construction details, typically showing complex junctions (such as floor to wall junction, window openings, eaves and roof apex) that cannot be clearly shown on a drawing that includes the full height of the building.

No matter what type the drawing is, it always reflects the key features described at the beginning of this tutorial. Further, all the above mentioned drawings are technical drawings which are produced according to a standard scale.

Other non-technical types of drawings include:

  • Architectural Perspectives
  • Sketches
  • Diagrams

Above non-technical types will not be discussed under this tutorial.

Standard Views used in representational drawings

As described above, a representation drawing will put the spectator into  journey through the design. To achieve this, the following conventional views will be used:

2.2.1      Floor Plans

This is the most fundamental and most familiar view for an architect since architecture can be coined as organizing spaces that achieve a common spatial function and progression.

Technically it is a horizontal section cut through a building (conventionally at four feet / one meter) showing walls, windows and door openings and other features at that level. The plan view includes anything that could be seen below that level: the floor, stairs (but only up to the plan level), fittings and sometimes furniture. Objects above the plan level (e.g. beams overhead) can be indicated as dashed lines.

Further, a floor plan is a drawing to scale, showing a view from above, of the relationships between rooms, spaces and other physical features at one level of a structure.

Figure – Producing a Plan View by Conceptually cutting a building 4′ high from ground level

Site Plan

site plan is a variation of a floor plan, showing the whole context of a building or group of buildings. A Surveyor’s plan is also a site plan and it is much smaller in scale than a typical architectural floor plan. The main reason to this is it has to cover much larger land area than the typical architectural floor plan.

In most common situations, site plans come with metric scales of 1:500 / 1:1000. Some older site plans are produced in imperial scales (ex: one chain to an inch – literally this means 66 feet per inch).

2.2.2      Elevation

An elevation is a view of a building seen from one side, a flat representation of one exterior side (façade). This type of view is used to describe the appearance of the building. Each elevation is labeled in relation to the compass direction it faces, e.g. looking toward the north you would be seeing the southern elevation of the building.

Elevations sometimes are used to detail internal walls also. For an instance, a toilet interior will basically have four elevations depicting each wall and thus, providing all the information about each wall such as tile, niche heights.

2.2.3      Cross Section

While the floor plan is the horizontal cut section of a building, the cross section refers to a vertical cut section.  In the section view, everything cut by the section plane is shown as a bold line, often with a solid fill to show objects that are cut through, and anything seen beyond generally shown in a thinner line. Sections are used to describe the relationship between different levels of a building.

A sectional elevation is a combination of a cross section, with elevations of other parts of the building seen beyond the section plane.


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