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Freehand Sketching

Full course name in Norwegian Bokmål: 
Course code: 
80 404
Level of study: 
Teaching semester: 
2015 Spring
Language of instruction: 
Norwegian / English
Required prerequisite knowledge

Passed foundation level courses

Course content

All about the sketch and the sketchbook, the sketch is here interpreted in two ways: As a material drawing executed by freehand, and as a tool for architectural enquiry and exploration. Etymologically originates to sketch from the Latin/ Greek “Schedi-azo, meaning to do a thing off-hand or on the spur of the moment, invent stories, improvise, or give free play to the imagination’” . The main objective of this course is therefor to enhance skills and knowledge concerning freehand drawing, and further, to develop the student´s understanding of thinking with and through the sketch as a tool and a personal medium for the generation and dissemination of architectural thought. As such is the sketch frequently described as a mode of thinking in action, and action as thinking.

Within architecture is the sketch commonly regarded as a means to an end that serves preliminary and preparatory purposes to further the development, of e.g. an architectural design. Put simply is a distinction often made between the mimetic sketch, which is about drawing and recording existing phenomena and events, and the conceptual sketch which most often is concerned with generating and testing ideas, in the various phases of an architectural design process. In reality are such distinctions blurred as the examinations and discussions of a selection of particular architectural practices, and texts concerning drawing by hand within architecture, intend to reveal and explore.

As the prevalence of the digital in visual production is overwhelming, remains the use of freehand drawing (most commonly the sketch), as the only non-digital graphic medium present in architecture today. This course refuses to take an antagonistic stance towards such digital means; rather it seeks to explore in what ways the freehand sketch may compliment these powerful tools, in order to shed light upon and render possible futures for the sketch. On this background will issues concerning the nature of non-digital drawing, such as materiality, the multisensory, gesture and facture, speed and resistance, vagueness, and ambivalence be addressed throughout the entire course.

Keywords: The freehand sketch, the sketchbook, the materials and techniques of tools and supports, representation, drawing within architectural design, visual communication.

Learning outcome

Ved gjennomført studium skal studenten;

- Improved skills and knowledge of freehand drawing

- Enhanced understandings of the freehand sketch as tool and personal medium for visual enquiry, exploration and dissemination of architecture.

- Extended knowledge about the multiple uses, roles and appearances of the freehand sketch in the past and in the present.

- Acquired experiences and insights concerning the exploring of potential ways and uses of the material freehand sketch within the realm of digital architectural drawing.

Working and learning activities

The course is structured in two main parts:
The first part of the course (one-third of the entire course period) sets out to invigorate the skills and knowledge concerning materials, techniques and modes of representation within hand drawing through plenary studio exercises and studies. Within the end of this period is each student required to determine a theme or a topic for the following part, which will be presented at a preliminary presentation ending the first part and leading forward to the second. In the second part is the sketchbook the most central and critical device for setting out and, foremost visually, recording explorative processes whereby theme, content, approaches, tools and modes of representation and expression are motivated and guided by the student’s choice of theme. Evaluation and feedback will be given through plenary and individual discussions and supervision.


Arnheim, R. (1993). "Sketching and the Psychology of Design." Design Issues 9(2): 15-19.


Cold, B. (2008). Skissen som samtale. Trondheim, Tapir akademisk forl.


Corner, J. (1992). Representation and Landscape. Recovering Landscape: Essays in Contemporary Landscape Architecture j. Corner. New York, Princton Architectural Press.


Crowe, N. L., Paul (1984). Visual Notes. London, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.


Frascari, M. (2011). Eleven Exercises in the art of architectural drawing; slow food for the architect´s imagination. London & New York, Routledge.


Hewitt, M. (1984). "Representational Forms and Modes of Conception: An Approach to the History of Architectural Drawing." Journal of Architectural Education, Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc. 39(No 2 (Winter, 1985)): pp. 2-9.


Kahn, L. I. (1991). Louis I. Kahn: writings, lectures interviews. New York, Rizzoli International Publications.


Le Corbusier, i. b. M. G. (1981). Le Corbusier Selected Drawings. New York, Rizzoli International Publications.


Smith, K. S. (2008). Architects' Sketches: Dialogue and Design Amsterdam, Elsevier, Architectural Press.


Mandatory courseworkCourseworks requiredPresence requiredComment
Exercise3Not requiredDiscussions and supervision in groups and individually
Supervision talks2Preliminary and final presentation
Presence required
Obligatoriske arbeidskrav:
Mandatory coursework:Exercise
Courseworks required:3
Presence required:Not required
Comment:Discussions and supervision in groups and individually
Mandatory coursework:Supervision talks
Courseworks required:2
Presence required:
Comment:Preliminary and final presentation
Mandatory coursework:Presence required
Courseworks required:
Presence required:
Mandatory coursework:
Courseworks required:
Presence required:
Form of assessmentGroupingGrading scaleComment
Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)IndividualPass / fail
Form of assessment:Portfolio assessment (Vurderingsmappe)
Grading scale:Pass / fail
Workload activity
Individual problem solving
Forventet arbeidsinnsats:
Workload activity:Individual problem solving