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Posted on November 2, 2010 by Karin • Filed under:

These are some general terms from the world of ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING …


A technical drawing of a building (or building project) that falls within the definition of architecture. Architectural drawings are used by architects and others for a number of purposes: to develop a design idea into a coherent proposal, to communicate ideas and concepts, to convince clients of the merits of a design, to enable a building contractor to construct it, as a record of the completed work, and to make a record of a building that already exists.


A rapidly executed freehand drawing, a quick way to record and develop an idea, not intended as a finished work. A diagram may also be drawn freehand but deals with symbols, to develop the logic of a design. Both may be worked up into a more presentable form and used to communicate the principles of a design.


The most fundamental architectural diagram, a view from above showing the arrangement of spaces in building in the same way as a map, but showing the arrangement at a particular level of a building. Technically it is a horizontal section cut though a building (conventionally at three feet / one metre above floor level), showing walls, window and door openings and other features at that level. The plan view includes anything that could be seen below that level: the floor, stairs (but only up to the plan level), fittings and sometimes furniture. Objects above the plan level (e.g. beams overhead) can be indicated as dotted lines.


A view of a building seen from one side, a flat representation of one façade. This is the most common view used to describe the external appearance of a building. Each elevation is labelled in relation to the compass direction it faces, e.g. the north elevation of a building is the side that most closely faces north. Buildings are rarely a simple rectangular shape in plan, so a typical elevation may show all the parts of the building that are seen from a particular direction.
Geometrically, an elevation is a horizontal orthographic projection of a building on to a vertical plane, the vertical plane normally being parallel to one side of the building.
Architects also use the word elevation as a synonym for façade, so the north elevation is literally the north wall of the building.


Also simply called a section, it represents a vertical plane cut through the object, in the same way as a floor plan is a horizontal section viewed from the top. In the section view, everything cut by the section plane is shown as a bold line, often with a solid fill to show objects that are cut through, and anything seen beyond generally shown in a thinner line. Sections are used to describe the relationship between different levels of a building.


This is a combination of a cross section, with elevations of other parts of the building seen beyond the section plane.
Geometrically, a cross section is a horizontal orthographic projection of a building on to a vertical plane, with the vertical plane cutting through the building.


These show a small part of the construction at a larger scale, to show how the component parts fit together. They are also used to show small surface details, for example decorative elements. Section drawings at large scale are a standard way of showing building construction details, typically showing complex junctions (such as floor to wall junction, window openings, eaves and roof apex) that cannot be clearly shown on a drawing that includes the full height of the building. A full set of construction details needs to show plan details as well as vertical section details. One detail is seldom produced in isolation: a set of details shows the information needed to understand the construction in three dimensions.


From Latin perspicere, to see through, a perspective in the graphic arts, such as drawing, is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as paper), of an image as it is seen by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are that objects are drawn:
▪      Smaller as their distance from the observer increases
▪      Foreshortened: the size of an object’s dimensions along the line of sight are relatively shorter than dimensions across the line of sight (An imaginary line from the eye to a perceived object).


A method for visually representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions in technical and engineering drawings. It is an axonometric projection in which the three coordinate axes appear equally foreshortened and the angles between any two of them are 120 degrees.


Drawings intended to explain a scheme and to promote its merits. Working drawings may include tones or hatches to emphasise different materials, but they are diagrams, not intended to appear realistic. Basic presentation drawings typically include people, vehicles and trees, taken from a library of such images, and are otherwise very similar in style to working drawings. Rendering is the art of adding surface textures and shadows to show the visual qualities of a building more realistically. An architectural illustrator or graphic designer may be employed to prepare specialist presentation images, usually perspectives or highly finished site plans, floor plans and elevations etc.


Measured drawings of existing land, structures and buildings. Architects need an accurate set of survey drawings as a basis for their working drawings, to establish exact dimensions for the construction work. Surveys are usually measured and drawn up by specialist land surveyors.


A comprehensive set of drawings used in a building construction project: these will include not only architect’s drawings but structural and services engineer’s drawings etc. Working drawings logically subdivide into location, assembly and component drawings.

All definitions from