Hybrid drawings: the strength of composite graphics

Artspark Performing Arts Pavilion by Morphosis Architects

Hybrids are the fusion of diverse drawing types intended to be seen as one drawing.

Anthromorphs by Robert J Fakelmann
The drawing was produced as one in a series of images for gallery exhibition. The hybrid approach represents a quick technique for adding three-dimensional imagery and colour to black-and-white drawings.

If the intention of architectural drawing is to illustrate a whole project or building, then logically, all architectural drawings should ‘read’ as one drawing instead of a series of individual and fragmented set of drawings.

O’Neill Guesthouse, Brentwood, California by Susan Lanier and Paul Lubowicki
The O’Neill Guesthouse and model were generated for an exhibition titled “Angels and Franciscans — Innovative Architecture from Los Angels and San Francisco” at the Leo Castelli/Gagosian Gallery in New York, which exhibited the work of 15 architects from Los Angels and San Francisco.

Composite drawings are particularly important in academic environment because students often present their drawings as individual pieces of information without careful thought about their arrangement or their relationship. The requirement of composite drawings encourages planning the presentation beforehand and an increased comprehension of the total scope of the presentation.

Rahman Residence, Dhaka, Bangladesh by M. Saleh Uddin
The purpose of this image was to document graphically the process of the design, from study drawings to construction drawings and, finally, completed exterior and interior.

The combination of two or more drawings results in experimental hybrid graphics with variations of scale, type of drawing, technique, and the use of repetition and overlapping elements. Hybrids may be divided into three basic sorts:

  • Fusion and superimposition of ideas
  • Fusion and superimposition of media
  • Fusion and superimposition of techniques
LSU Lecture Poster by Form:uLA / Bryan Cantley + Kevin O’Donnel

Significant experimentation with layout is noticeable in architectural competitions projects, in which each participant tries to arrange the maximum amount of information in a limited amount of space. The competition layout is characterised by considerable variation in scale of drawings and the squeezing together, overlapping, and layering of graphic information within the format. Such layouts are composed in ways as an artist might plan an abstract composition. Indeed, the assembly of fragmented information into a complex and dynamic layout has obvious roots in Cubism and Constructivism.

Seventy-Two Market Street by Thom Mayne with Kazu Arai
Section and plan: superimposed plan below section drawing highlights structural supports and earthquake tension bars. Modelling paste and graphite on Mylar.

The nature of hybrid drawings has changed our perception and expectations of the role of architectural drawing. Although a hybrid drawing communicates on many levels beyond utility, it is also perceived as an artwork that endures beyond the completion of a project.

State of Illinois Centre, Chicago, Illinois by Helmut Jahn

Site / building

plan and section enclosing central atrium. Prismacolor pencil on textured rendering paper.

The power and effectiveness of these multi-layered expressions of graphics make hybrid drawings a form of presentation too important to be ignored.


M. Saleh Uddin, Hybrid Drawing Techniques by Contemporary Architects and Designers, John Wiley & Sons, 1999