Manifestations in Drafts


Between April 10 and 12, the conference "Manifestations in Drafts in Design, Architecture, and Engineering" will take place in Aachen. The conference is hosted by the Faculty of Architecture at RWTH Aachen.



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The world as shaped by architects, designers, and engineers, as a rule, does no longer reveal the comprehensive planning and production processes that underlie it – they vanish under the seemingly perfect surfaces of things which suggest that they could not be different from the way they are.

Apart from the functional, technical, economic and aesthetic aspects, they are also shaped by the planning individuals behind them, and by the methods and tools they have used, which over the last 30 years have undergone a paradigm shift from analogue to digital planning. This transition, which has not been moderated or controlled by clearly defined standards of rules, was brought about by a myriad of individual strategies which have been investigated and discussed, if at all, within the different disciplines only, and not from a more comprehensive perspective.

The present event at RWTH Aachen aims to bring together these hitherto separate discourses and pave the way for an interdisciplinary stock-taking. The focus of the scientific investigation is on the epistemic objects which are created in the draft process, in the form of models, sketches, diagrams, and notations of all kind. We will term these artifacts as “manifestations in drafts” – they reveal intentions, methods, techniques, and creative processes in the different stages of the design process. As real objects, they are essential in determining the interpretation and further direction of the constructive process, and thus function as carriers of knowledge.

The conference takes inventory of current strategies for the generation of knowledge and form, posing the following question: how do designers as active agents actually work with their materials, with tools, techniques and technologies? In a decidedly comparative approach, the hitherto separate discourses within architecture, the design disciplines, and the related engineering fields are to be connected, so as to achieve an exchange of experiences. The conference considers itself as a starting point, a trigger for a methodological discourse with which to investigate the relations between thought, intention, and action.

Panel Discussion

The event will be concluded with a panel discussion, which will take up and seek to provide answers to the key questions, in reply to the conference contributions. The panel discussion is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 12, in Room 217, Faculty of Architecture, Schinkelstraße 2.

The conference, which receives support form the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, is organized by the Chair of Visual Design at the Faculty of Architecture, the Chair of Sociology of Technology and Organization, and the Chair and Institute of Engineering Design at RWTH Aachen in collaboration with the German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt am Main, and the Academy of Art and Design FHNW, Basel.