Nerma Prnjavorac Cridge

Nerma Prnjavorac Cridge was educated at the universities of Sarajevo and Birmingham, the Bartlett and the Architectural Association. After participating in an Antarctic expedition she become Special Envoy to UNESCO in 1997. Distinguished practitioners Nerma has worked for include Thomas Heatherwick and art2architecture.  Nerma’s drawing installation ‘Echo’ featured in 2010 ‘Drawing Out’ festival at RMIT. She is currently lecturing at Central St Martins and Brighton University.

Drawing the Unbuildable

Marina Lathouri, Mark Cousins

As suggested in the title, this thesis examines architectural drawings outside what can be defined as a conventional architectural domain - the buildable - which includes built and unbuilt projects.  Starting with an almost complete absence of the plan and the ubiquitous presence of perspective in the representations of the unbuildable, a number of different traits become defined. Both the unbuildable and the buildable are revealed as working distinctly but, importantly, not in opposition to one another. In fact, they are frequently found to operate in a complementary fashion.

Selected from the period immediately following the Soviet Russian revolutionary, taken as the peak of the projects of the unbuildable, detailed case studies include Tatlin’s Tower and the Palace of the Soviets. Despite these examples being purportedly amongst the best-known architectural projects ever conceived, the in-depth analysis demonstrates, somewhat paradoxically, that scant detail about them can be verified.

Such projects were shown to have an ability to exist at multiple scales, in many locations, repeated and copied as a reference or through multiple associations. Based on this, an argument has been put forward that often the unbuildable ought to be seen as the most buildable of all. Speculations on Lissitzky’s Cloud Stirrups form the basis for the discussion on the architectural series. Here, Piranesi’s Carceri is proposed as a pioneering, if not the very first example of architectural drawing as a series. The discussion of the reproduction, repetition and seriality culminates in the final example - Yakov Chernikhov’s opus.

One of the multiple concluding suggestions is that the buildable may continue to increasingly resemble the unbuildable, mimicking its traits such as scalessness, existing on multiple sites and excessive visuality. This could increasingly blur the distinction between the two, and eventually even abolish it, meaning that every building in part becomes unbuildable, and vice versa.