The Model and the Drawing

Sam Spurr

Art and architecture have always been close allies. They share preoccupations with form and experience, they argue passionately about aesthetics and philosophy and they make grand claims again and again toward nothing less than the value of beauty and their agency toward social transformation. While some architecture is more artistic and many artworks highly architectural, the distinctions between the two disciplines are bound in the differences of scale, use and cost. While this is true, one need only look at the public art proposal by Hany Armanious for the City of Sydney—a giant milk crate, which has been described as a building, and costs the equivalent of a small house—to realise these definitions are fluid at best.

Dr Chau Chak Wing School of Business,
University of Technology, Sydney
Photography Andrew Worssam

This article examines this entangled relationship through the lens of architecture, in particular two recent Australian examples. The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has been in a state of physical transformation over the past few years, producing some of the most innovative examples of contemporary architecture that Sydney has seen since the Opera House. The most famous of these is of course Australia’s first Frank Gehry, the Dr Chau Chak Wing School of Business. The second building to consider is the Thomas Street Science Building, just around the corner, by Sydney firm Durbach Block Jaggers. Both buildings are exceptional, yet with differences that can be framed through their distinct relationships with art: one with the model; the other with drawing. This is not simply to say that one firm has used models and the other drawings to produce their designs. Instead it suggests how architecture’s relationship to the visual arts can aid in our understanding of its differing ways of, and capacities for affecting the world.


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