Drawing Out Meaning

Project for a metropolitan cathedral, perspective view 
Drawing Out Meaning 500 Years of architectural history

Image © RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections


This online workshop looks at some of the most important, interesting and thought-provoking drawings in the collections of the V&A and the RIBA. As some of the highlights of the collections, they show the fascinating ideas conceived by architects over the past 500 years. The images in this workshop provide opportunity to study drawing as a tool for the architect, how it has evolved over the centuries and to consider the significance of this medium as a way to communicate ideas to the viewer.

This workshop presents the drawings in chronological order in four categories:

  • 16th and 17th-century architecture
  • the long 18th century
  • the Victorian era 
  • 20th-century architecture 

Guiding questions

  • What is the relationship of drawing to architecture?
  • How have styles of architecture, and the drawings that architects use to express them, changed over time?
  • How is drawing relevant to contemporary architects and architecture?


16th and 17th-century architecture
The rediscovery of perspective and Classical architecture.


The long 18th century
The development of formal drawing techniques.


The Victorian era
A time of increasingly varied architecture and new professional methods and standards.


20th-century architecture
This period witnessed the proliferation of alternative media and forms in drawing to represent architecture.  


About the online workshops

'Drawing Out Meaning' is one of several online workshops that explores different themes in architecture and is based on material from the collections of the RIBA and the V&A. Visit the collections in person or see them online at RIBApix and V&A Images. Workshops can be organised for visiting groups as part of the RIBA's collections-based education programme - contact the Education Curator for more information:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7307 3732
Email: library.education@riba.org



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