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Working Drawing: The Architecture and Drawings of Peter Märkli

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Sasha Greig
Queen's University Belfast UK
The sketches by the Swiss architect Peter Märkli often bear little resemblance to his built architecture but have a distinctive graphic quality. These peculiar little sketches have been published and exhibited without captions to relate them to a specific building. Märkli is highly regarded for his built architecture but the sketches are often an end in themselves as they communicate ambition and emotion just like an expressionist painting. Märkli is of the opinion that architecture is a category of art. He accepts that as an architect he has more stringent briefs but he questions the visual impact of his architecture in the same way that he analyses the mass of a sculpture or the composition of a painting.

Märkli works methodically and unaccompanied in a large atelier on the peripheries of Zurich. Projects are conceived through tiny sketches of forms in a landscape and abstract ideas about facades. When he is satisfied with the sketches he will resolve the floor plan with hard-line drawings at scale 1:100 and develop a section at scale 1:20. Märkli deals only with the lines and proportions, never materials or shadows. The drawings sent to his employees in a separate atelier who work on the technical design and prepare the project for construction. Märkli had a rapport with the sculptor Hans Josephsohn who also lived and worked in Zurich until he passed away in 2012. Josephsohn would advise Märkli on the graphic quality of his drawings as he wrestled out ideas. Between 1986 and 1992 Märkli designed and built La Congiunta: a house for a permanent collection of sculptures by Josephsohn. The dissertation seeks to analyse how Märkli translates ambition and the visual concern in his sketches into architecture using La Congiunta as a case study.

Sasha Greig

Andrew Clancy
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