Understanding Architectural Drawings

Working in Soane's Office

This section tells you about what it was like to work in Soane’s office, where the office was and how the pupils and assistants were expected to reach it. It also shows where Soane himself worked. There is a drawing made in Soane’s office to show all his built projects up to 1815. We see the kind of pen made from a goose feather which Soane and his pupils would have used.

Soane was one of the most successful architects of his time and parents would pay to send their sons – only men worked in his office – to be trained to be architects. They worked for 12 hours a day, later reduced to 11. In the summer it would be hot and in the winter dark and cold. They had to use a door at the back of the property so they didn’t walk through the house and they weren’t allowed to mix with the domestic servants. A few of them didn’t prove good enough and didn’t work there for long. When they started, Soane would see how good they were at drawing by getting then to draw the rooms in the Museum. They would be with him for five to six years, learning to draw and design buildings and all the business which was related to architecture.

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The Upper Drawing Office

The Upper Drawing Office

Vol. 82/33 

This drawing, made in 1825, shows a section through the back part of the Museum where Soane’s pupils worked. The areas left white show the Upper Drawing Office, and the office door they used (see drawing The Little Study). The Office is supported on columns above the area known as the Colonnade which connects the Dome, where you can look down to the sarcophagus, with the Museum Corridor from where the staircase leads to the Office. Light came down into the Office from two skylights above the benches and the walls were hung with plaster casts to instruct and inspire the pupils.