While speaking to a group of architectural students at Columbia University in 1961, Le Corbusier once said “I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies.”
Like most students of architecture, I take this position as gospel and will always opt to draw an idea, rather than describe it. And this would be fine if the role of the architect was simply to portray an idea. But in today’s world where the credibility of architecture as a profession is consistently scrutinised and challenged, the question arises, “What skills can an architect offer, that no other profession can?”
For me, the role of the architect can be broken down into two categories: the problem-solver and the salesman. Architects are taught throughout their education how to approach a problem logically and to design a solution holistically and efficiently. However, what distinguishes the architect from the consultant is the skills that the architect has that allow them to sell their idea. Whilst a five-second sketch may suffice to translate an idea, it will rarely sell the proposal to a client. In order to reach full comprehension, the idea must be seen in all of its glory. The proposal must be vibrant, it must be extensive and it must be provocative.
Drawing is quick, it is analytical and it is abstract. It composites everything expected of an architect. A drawing, at least in the sense that Le Corbusier describes it, does not provoke emotion. It does not demand a reaction from its audience, nor does it allow them to draw their own conclusions. A drawing is a fact found in a science textbook, a film is an offensive statement scribbled over a diagram in a black permanent marker.
As part-salesman, I am able to portray an idea, not by describing it, but through suggestion. A good film should be able to provide the audience with a solution, simply by asking the questions that demand only one answer. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but show a man the advantages of fishing for oneself and he might just learn how.