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 Little Study

The Little Study

P86 detail

This little room was where Soane would sit and work at the surprisingly small table, which pulled out from under the desk as you can see. Here he would produce the kind of drawings which would be worked up by the pupils (see drawing Original Sketch Design: Tyringham Gateway). He would also be able to keep an eye on who was coming and going in the back part of the house. In front of the window are blinds like modern Venetian ones but vertical so that Soane could adjust the light to have it just how he wanted it. Between the Little Study and the area below the Upper Drawing Office is the Dressing Room where he would tidy himself up and put on his wig and coat before meeting builders who, like the pupils, would use the office door at the back of the house. This is a detail from a drawing of 1822.