S01 E06

Four Observations 
on 1:1 Architectural

By Norman Kelley

A 1:1 drawing is corrective.
Elevation of Blinky Palermo, Grey Angle, House Six Friedrich, Munich, Germany, 1971.

Palermo’s in situ drawings are often performed on a surface. They reproach misalignment or heighten awareness within an existing space. Here, a 90-degree angle circumscribes an improved corner on the bottom right of a wall with a window in a domestic interior. The window is now centered, though the room is misaligned. For some, Palermo’s work was infuriating – local art critics found it so banal that they referred to him as a Wandmaler (a mere wall painter). [1] Even if boring, his drawings capture a true-to-scale banality.


A 1:1 drawing is rightsized.
Plan of Aldo Van Eyck, Amsterdam OrphanageAmsterdam, the Netherlands, 1960–1961.

Van Eyck coined the phrase “right size” to underscore how age, size, and maturity might tailor space. [2] The geometry structuring his orphanage is a circle within four squares. In the infants’ house, a child faces outward atop a stack of three circular platforms. In the teenage girls’ house, a dining table is carved from a circle to encourage socialization. It is in the older children’s house, however, that the circle misperforms. A lightly inscribed line is centered around a cylindrical column on an exterior concrete pad. With a diameter of 6.72 meters, the circle appears less interested in the child and more interested in Van Eyck’s 3.36-meter grid.

A 1:1 drawing is secure.
Elevation of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Coxe-Hayden House, Block Island, United States, 1981.

An oversized lunette commands the beach-facing facade of Weld Coxe’s vacation home. From the outside, the window appears to be part of the first floor. In fact, the window is level with the linen of the master bed on the second floor. A void exists between the window and the edge of the floor, secured only by a single guardrail. The rail, a line, is far enough from the window that it is only perceptible from the inside. “Slightly unexpected,” this detail rings strangely, albeit practically. [3]

A 1:1 drawing is sentimental.
Plan of Enric Miralles and Carme Pinós, Igualada Cemetery, Igualada, Spain, 1994.

Steel, wood, concrete, and stone enmesh the master earthwork into the future memory of its surrounding landscape. The steel recalls a cross, stones protect the cremains, and the wood embedded in the concrete ground offers an image of felled trees succumbing to a quiet current. This is most clear when viewed from above, a mistaken view given the project’s intention. The ground’s achievement exists between reality and its representation. No two lines of wood are the same – live edges wander across differing media in this serious place.
[1] Christine Mehring, Blinky Palermo: Abstraction of an Era (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

[2] Robert McCarter and Aldo Van Eyck, Aldo Van Eyck (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015).

[3] Paul Goldberger, “Architecture That Is Bred to the Sea,” New York Times, August 21, 1982.

Ink on Inkjet Drawings, Norman Kelley, 2018, courtesy of Volume Gallery.  Igualada Cemetery by Marc Teer / Flickr Creative Commons. Amsterdam Orphanage from Architectuur Centrum Amsterdam
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