Apple – Tree – Design – Construction

  • Building Design Expert
  • 5 years ago

‘Rotring’ – the dark art

Apple, Tree, Design, and Construction – I don’t know, and it possibly doesn’t matter, that there is not a building contractor out there somewhere with that very name, but the relevance is not that great. In this case take any of the words as individual entities, and dance them around, a little like ‘pot’, ‘kettle’ and ‘black’. All a bit cryptic so far? Stick with me.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but then again that very much depends upon how the tree has been constructed. As individuals we develop traits, habits, and we do things a certain way which sets the boundaries for our comfort zones. Step across those boundaries and you can invoke that other well worn phrase – ‘fish out of water’. But talking of well worn phrases; it would be insane to carry on doing the same thing time after time with the aim of obtaining a different result, now wouldn’t it? But what if we do things differently with the unnerving aim of getting the same result?

So we can contrive government targeted BIM to wrap around a project brief, and make for a sustainable design, but that alone will not make design sustainable. Bringing all of those entities together successfully as the ultimate goal, may require a seismic shift from well worn project design and execution routes, and just how will that sit with our designers of supreme tradition? Those designers held, and hold, a skill set in drawn communication that has been buried with some of them, and largely consigned to the basement store room for the rest. When you are out, look for the tell-tale signs: Palms up-pressed against pavement lights, and don’t ingest too much of the steam coming from the manhole lid if you are driving home.

Cad used to be a term associated with a devilish individual normally found in a public school. But the new CAD on the block caused a domino effect in the mid-late 1980’s, and despite drawing board manufacturers coming up with integrated and yes, fully adjustable Tee and combination set squares; the titanic pressure on that particular ships hull could be withstood no longer. This is now a well trodden path with a learning curve significant enough to effect the way we actually carry out the detail of building design. Oh sure, the designers thought process in arriving at a design solution may have been very similar, but its representation for communication to others often drags along the bottom, bumping into the odd sunken ship. In considering the synergy of rotring pen meets tracing paper; – in the hands of an expert drafter the results are crucially clear and overtly representative of the design, the detail, the idea.

So what? – Let me tell you the loss of the this form of communication is of tragic proportions when you look at what has elbowed its way to the front to replace it. CAD, BIM, TIM, JIM and the dog COBIE. For goodness sake, technology seems to be threatening to take over the world. What? – Oh, it has, has it? You see, and are we any better off as a result? I mean truly better off? Or, is it that we are all just looking for the latest queue to join the newest crisis. Because once out of our rotring comfort zones we have lost all control. We’re not holding the thing that draws the lines any more. Who know what draws the lines because it all goes on in some buzzing electronic box, and that’s not comfortable.

We have to go into art galleries and museums now to see hand drawn architectural details. It’s enough to make you well up when you see those point one lines deliberately crossed past one another at the corners. Oh, and then a point five line comes steaming in to take that perfectly defined corner with sumptuous ease; just a little like Sterling Moss on the tightest hairpin at Monaco. Who’s Sterling Moss? Go look him up. Perhaps you could ‘giggle’ it, you know on your computer. Apparently there’s nothing they can’t do. Oh yes there is, they can’t draw!

I actually saw a presentation recently that had nothing better to show off than a rain water pipe junction with a concealed eaves gutter, and some other stuff. I do the design an injustice actually, because it was worth showing off; if only they knew how. The section through the inside of the pipe was a beautifully graded charcoal grey. Really? Well, along with some exquisitely useful line thicknesses and abject simplicity I am sure? If only. This was a master class in grading one colour into another to make a 2D detail into a three dimensional work of art. Ah, so some good came out of it then? Not really no. The master of this class had left for the summer holiday without giving the student the final lesson; if indeed it was on the curriculum.

Next time you are out and you see Jim taking Cobie for a walk, and you casually ask if they have been to the vet’s for their CPD injections, don’t be put off if they walk straight past you. it’s because they are focusing on the next big thing. They don’t know what it is yet, but by heaven when it appears they’ll be the first through that school gate. The more students that pass through it will just kick another layer of sand over that dark art that is ‘Rotring’. What’s a rotring? Go look it up.

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