Paraline drawings, often referred to as "axonometric" or "isometric" drawings, are a method of abstract, plan projection three-dimensional drawing that sees less currency of use in the digitally drafted environment in most of today's architectural offices. Often referred to as a "poor man's perspective" due to their simplicity and ease of construction, it is increasingly rare now to see them at all outside of their occasional use in a classroom or studio setting. There are a variety of reasons for this, in particular the immediacy that digital drafting brings to quickly developing wire frame and photo-realistic 3D images of a project. I once worked with an architect who especially detested paraline drawings, his argument being that it was an underhanded, misleading means of three dimensional representation when you could spend the same amount of time developing "eye level" perspective drawings. But then again, he also hated rendered elevations, building sections and floor plans, especially if he was the one who had to draw them.
There was certainly an element of truth in his bias as foresight. I find paraline drawings to still be extremely useful and informative drawings, especially early in the conceptual design phase of certain types of projects. The most obvious "ease of use" feature is being able to work at a specific and constant drawing scale. Another is the "bird's eye" quality the drawings have, making them especially useful in providing an overview of a project that has multiple buildings or is a single building to be developed in phases. In essence, I have to try to think of the drawing as an abstract two-dimensional rendered site plan. I learned early on that paraline drawings should never replace what you learn about a project through true perspective drawing. But there is always an element of abstraction in any type of architectural hand drawing, be it in the form of strategically placed and rendered entourage, material representation, time of day or so forth. Paraline drawings embrace this concept as well by means of constant use of scale and the lack of convergence to vanishing points common in true three dimensional perspectives.
In the drawings shown here, the purpose of the exercise is to provide an overview of a particular project that has an important interrelationship between two buildings and their obvious siting characteristics on a small piece of waterfront property. Big pond or small lake, tomatoe or tomato. It was drawn during the schematic phase and used in lieu of a site plan that was purely a plan drawing. It is a conceptual design study for a pair of small, seasonal, lake front vacation cottages on a shared lakefront site and was drawn at 3/16" scale while the project was in its earliest stage of design. Given that I already had a high degree of familiarity with the both the compositional and material qualities of the design and the unique "micro" qualities of the site, I was able to develop and present this scale drawing in the schematic design phase as opposed to more conventionally drawn and rendered building elevations. Later drawings did present these elevations (and eye level perspectives) but as an overview of the project, this remained the most effective and frequently used presentation image.
The landscape entourage in the drawing foreground was used to emphasize a unique feature of the site, specifically the extreme grading that allowed you to climb up at the edge of the site and look down on the shared front lawn, assuming you didn't mind briars and thistles cutting your legs. While not defined by an actual, physical pathway, it provided an immediately recognizable reference point that offset some of the "paraline" qualities of the drawing. The initial drawing was conceptually developed in sketchbook form (see above) and then revised when the final site was selected.
Enlarged Axonometric View of Cottage One - 2012
See Image below for material and media.
Enlarged Axonometric View of Cottage Two - 2012
See Image below for material and media.