Depicting Spaces

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Depicting Spaces

Tom Grillo


Who influences you graphically?

I try to maintain an open mind to take influence from all graphical sources. In particular, studying the drawings of historical and contemporary architects provides ideas on how to manipulate the view, composition, and lighting to try to communicate ideas most effectively. These include the drawings of Schinkel, Joseph Gandy and Ledoux, as well as line drawings of British modernists Denys Lasdun and Colin St John Wilson, and, more contemporary, the rendered drawings of DOGMA. Studying historical and contemporary fine art has also had a great influence on the drawings. I always try to understand why the artist has chosen a particular view, composition, and lighting in order to communicate their thoughts.

What dictates the way you chose to represent a project?

Each drawing aims to communicate a particular spatial atmosphere within the project as well as one or more 
ideas which have inspired or influenced the project. In this sense, the aim is that the drawings can communicate the project both on a superficial level and an esoteric one. Spaces are intended to be communicated through form and texture, light and shade, and manipulation of perspective. More esoteric ideas are intended to be communicated variously through reference to architects or artists, and through the use and placement of people or objects which could be read as symbolic of certain ideas. In general, the drawing is understood as autonomous from the building project itself: the drawing is authoritative in defining the way in which we look at the space proposed.

What is the effect and purpose of using a painterly approach? How does this influence the way the image is perceived when compared to the black and white images?

Rather than using a block colour, or a rendered texture, a painterly surface quality contains a great richness in its hue, tone, and texture. This aims to bring a richness and vitality to the images, but also aims to express in an abstract manner the real proposed material quality of the particular surface. However, all the images remain as architectural drawings, rather than ‘paintings’, as the textural quality is contained within areas defined by a line drawing. In this way, they still convey an accurate representation of the building. It has been said that an architect’s choice of form can convey ‘definite’ ideas, whereas the choice of material conveys more ‘ambiguous’ ideas. In this sense, a line drawing conveying only the building’s form communicates definite ideas and has been used for certain drawings in the project. The rendered drawings convey more ambiguous ideas.

What elements determine the way you choose to frame specific views?

The viewpoints are chosen in order to best communicate the particular space being represented. Sometimes, the composition is influenced by architectural or artistic references. The images do not necessarily relate to each other in terms of crop proportion or style, stressing the autonomy of each image, and its role to communicate only a particular aspect of the building project.

How and to what extent does the introduction of a figure depicted by Hopper effect the drawing and represented space?

Obvious artistic references were only used where they had a specific relation to the project. At an early stage, the works of Hopper and the ideas they conveyed, in particular numerous works depicting railroads, were influential on the development of the project. The use of his figures or objects in part refers to that influence. Working with images from artists really demonstrates the power of their work: when a standard photographed figure, object, or texture is replaced by one from an artist, the spatiality and atmosphere of the image is completely transformed. Therefore, finding and using an image from an artist in which ideas are conveyed which correlate with your own, can be a powerful means of communication in architectural drawings as it allows you to manipulate the representation of space and atmosphere in a more profound manner.

National Sailing Grandstand in collaboration with Camille Filbien, Garrick Chan

The proposal is for a National Sailing Grandstand and Media Centre in Portland Harbour, UK. The project seeks to provide the best possible spectator, media and organiser experience on sailing race day.

By searching for a synthesis between precision-technology yachting and traditional English seaside culture, the proposal aims to act as a national symbol for the sport, raising its profile and transforming its image into an activity that is accessible for all.

Portland Harbour’s breakwaters were an achievement of 19th century engineering, creating an enormous protected space. In its scale and form, the project aims to address the harbour as a whole, confirming and celebrating its changed identity from a naval space to a leisure space.


National Sailing Grandstand


National Sailing Grandstand


National Sailing Grandstand


National Sailing Grandstand


National Sailing Grandstand


National Sailing Grandstand



Commercial Building Chepstow

Commercial building Chepstow is a collective ‘house of work’ and is part of a wider ambition focussing on the reconfiguration of the former industrial site of National Shipyard No.1. Outline plans for the wider site, which form the context for the building, use the historic form and grid of the industrial sheds as limits within which free commercial building can take place. The building itself aims to maintain and celebrate commercial activity on the site as a part of the cultural life of the town. The intention of the clear external form is to define and order new adjacent public spaces; and contrasts with the dynamism of the internal environment.

The competition brief was for a National Sailing Grandstand situated within the shallow protected water of Portland Harbour, UK. By adding a media centre to the program and raising the spectator seating high above the water level, the proposal aims to provide the best possible organiser and spectator experience.


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow


Commercial building Chepstow

Perspective section 02 ill FINAL 01pdf

Commercial building Chepstow



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