Understanding Architectural Drawings

Drawings for Clients, Exhibitions & Lectures

Here we see the sort of highly-finished drawings Soane would have had made to show a client how the building he designed for them would look.

We also see the drawings which were made for exhibitions which were an essential way to show his skills as an architect and we see the sort of drawings he had made to illustrate the lectures he gave at The Royal Academy as Professor of Architecture. This section contains an extract from one of his lectures which is illustrated by the drawing of domes.

Collections | Understanding Arch. Drawings | Drawings for Clients, Exhibitions & Lectures
Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, London

Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone, London


This drawing was made to impress visitors to the annual exhibitions held at the Royal Academy of Arts (which are still held today). It was made in 1825, before the age of magazines and photographs. Thousands of people went to the exhibitions and Soane’s drawing might have had to compete with big oil paintings by Turner or Constable (famous painters of the day) in the galleries next door. They were impressive, highly-detailed pictures in a frame which might be designed by Soane himself. They contained lots of information, with plans, sections and details, cleverly incorporated into the drawing, as all the information had to be in one picture. The effect of light and shade was most important to make them look as real as possible. The title would be in the Royal Academy catalogue so might not be on the drawing itself. They would take a long time to draw; imagine spending 28 days or so on one drawing. They were often drawn by Joseph Michael Gandy – Soane’s favourite draughtsman.

Notice the two pupils with the plan and the brickwork, roof, galleries and crypt, all cleverly shown as if cut away. Also look at the details of the capitals and cornice (parts of a classical style of building) shown like ruins scattered on the ground and the exterior of the finished church in the clouds. Sometimes the building was shown as if in the process of being built, with wooden scaffolding lashed together with ropes. England was a sea-faring nation, and men would be skilled at lashing things together with ropes, and canvas, like ships’ sails, was used to keep the dust from blowing around and protect the workmen and their new work. Today, builders use metal scaffolding and plastic sheeting.

Holy Trinity Church has been deconsecrated and is now used as an events venue, called One Marylebone.