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Drawing Matter: ‘What were they trying to do here?’

Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine. Drawing model for a Music Room, c. 1803. (Copyright the architect)

In November, Niall Hobhouse, founder of Drawing Matter, presented ‘What were they trying to do here?’ at the LSA.

Niall, who was aided by Chair of the LSA’s academic court Nigel Coates, explored the different ways in which architects, over five centuries and several continents, have intended their drawings to be used or understood.

Niall and Nigel showed highlights from the DM archive – which is probably the largest private collection of architectural drawings in the world – to examine different stages of numerous projects, from concept to construction.


Mario Asprucci (1764–1804), A Design Possibly for the Napoleonic Cemetery in the Pineta Sachetti: plan and elevation, c. 1800. (Copyright the architect)
Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1484–1546), Illustration to Vitruvius Book III, Chapter 2, c. 1530 – 1545. (Copyright the architect)
James Gowan (1923–2015), Housing for East Hanningfield: isometric, 1975 – 1978. (Copyright the architect)
Gabriel Pierre Martin Dumont (1720–1791), Garden design following the ground plan of St Peter’s, Rome, 1769. (Copyright the architect)
Bruce Goff (1904–1982), Proposed Dewlen House and Studios (‘Aparture’), Amarillo, Texas, 1956, ground plan of the second scheme, 1956. (Copyright the architect)
Michael Webb (*1937), Sin Centre: Escalators anterior and posterior, after 1961. (Copyright the architect)
Franz Heinrich Schwechten (1841–1924) Prussian Parliament Building. (Copyright the architect)



Niall is an art collector and writer on architectural and curatorial issues. He is currently a trustee of Drawing Matter and has served as trustee of: the Holburne Museum in Bath (and as chairman of their executive committee); the development trust of the National Museums of Liverpool; the Canadian Centre for Architecture; the Campaign for Museums; and the Sir John Soane’s Museum. He was formerly governor of the London School of Economics and chair of the advisory board for the LSE’s Cities Programme.


Image credits

The LSA gratefully acknowledges: Drawing Matter archive, all images.