Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Narrative Drawing...a New Carriage House

A recent small project here, a rear yard carriage house and future in-law apartment for a very nice small 1910's-ish existing frame house in Essex, MA. A very lush and challenging site with mature tree canopies protecting the building on all sides. A lot of communities on the North Shore have begun to relax their previously strict rules regarding back yard residential structures as they begin to recognize the economic imperatives that elder care is beginning to place on many families. This project has a small workshop on the first floor and a open studio space on the second floor that has a lot future possibilities for residential use. The perspective drawing shown below is one of the early design study drawings I did to look at the second floor main studio space and stair. And a section drawing me a lot but it's not a presentation tool that always. 

This small project was perfect for a set of quick, fast drawings by hand. One of the clients is a both a good friend and a retired GC, so he knew exactly what he was looking at but his partner needed a set of drawings a little more graceful and descriptive than something from an AutoCAD file. A good set of drawings, even, or perhaps especially, working drawings should have a narrative quality. Here the drawing narrative combines the technical information needed to price and permit from, along with a more "story book" feel I often use for the entourage and title graphics. Being able to take liberties with consistency in how drawings are graphically framed and composed let's you work with your media size in more creative and supportive ways, such as portrait and landscape oriented sheets in the same set. This was typical of many of the beautiful working and presentation drawings from the late 19th / early 20th century when some degree of drawing standardization was beginning to emerge in architectural drafting rooms. Check out Cass Gilbert's working drawings some time. Seriously, go to Amazon and get "Inventing The Skyline: The Architecture of Cass Gilbert", Margaret Heilbrun, c.2000. Beautiful examples of this type of drawing that set the standard of its time and a great essay on his drafting room.

Here, all the drawings are 11" x 17" (A4/Tabloid), an obviously useful and universal size that allows you to print and copy in color pretty much anywhere and also (hopefully) maintain drawing scale. They are drawn on Bienfang heavy white tracing paper in pencil and Micron / Razor point ink pens and rendered on both sides of the media with Prismacolor pencils and ChartPak Ad markers.Being an all white building really helps here in terms of drawing time but these were the first and second design steps in terms of where the project has eventually ended up going. The graphic alphabet is something I have developed over time and use in a variety of sizes from both tracing templates and rubber stamps to lay the ground work for the drawings common graphic vocabulary.

This is the principal elevation facing the existing house. It sits at the rear yard's high point with the entry about two feet above the main floor level at the workroom.

Side yard elevation facing north into adjoining neighbor's rear yard. The site slopes down towards the existing house's rear yard about 32" and keeps on going.
First Floor Plan. The workroom to the right faces the existing house. The clients asked specifically for the 4 panel sliding doors to open the first level up to the rear yard. A nice idea that we are refining by using traditional french doors on folding panel hinges.
Second Floor Plan. The deck on the south side sits under a canopy of lush and mature trees, both deciduous and perennial. 
East Elevation facing the driveway. The building uses large shed dormers to capture the necessary headroom at the 2nd floor because of a restricted ridge height. The most technically developed elevation in a preliminary set of drawings. Note the use of smaller overhead carriage house doors.

All told, the drawing set above took about 50 hours over 5 days to complete, making it completely competitive with the cost of doing the drawings in AutoCAD and, I think, much more descriptive in terms of conveying what we were trying to do to a lot of different people. But this is the absolute threshold for that competitiveness in doing working drawings by hand. As a matter of fact, the final construction and permit drawings I did for this project were done in AutoCAD 2016. I will put those up in a separate post. They maintain the "narrative" graphic vocabulary explored and used here, they just do it digitally. To see this scheme, check out the post preceding this one about AutoCAD working drawings.

After some review, we decided you investigate a smaller build in terms of volume and ridge height. These are some of the quick design studies we did, which eliminated the full second floor in favor of a lower ship ladder loft. The detail and material vocabulary remained unchanged. We explored this as a concept only briefly before shifting back to the final scheme which has a full 2nd floor again and a solar roof. 

Each of these drawings took about 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to complete, including rendering time. The implied circular view port is a great framing technique and helpful in reducing the rendering time for a small drawing to the right is another 2nd Floor perspective of some alternate interior design options we studied during this phase of the project. Again, the final interior design concept is illustrated in the AutoCAD working drawing post before this one. A much larger building but the appropriately diminutive scale of the project remained a constant across all three schemes.
Each drawing is about 8-1/2" x 11", drawn freehand in ink with Pilot "Razor Point" pens over 3H pencil constructed bases on Bienfang yellow tracing paper. Color is developed using Prismacolor pencils and ChartPak AD markers on both sides of the media. The white building tones where applied on the back with soft white Prismacolor pencils. That took a little time, I must admit.
Note how the outsides limits and profile of the previous scheme are dotted in to provide a scale reference to the reduction in project size. This actually a vastly revised South Elevation that I kind of liked better. Don't miss the deck here at all.

I guess the last thing that I will add is that the graphic alphabet I used on both sets of these drawings I have digitized and converted to AutoCAD blocks (.dwg files, not fonts) that you can use as in a manner similar to what I have shown in many of my drawing posts here. Feel free to post a message here if interested.

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