Foster’s Drawings

Attached below are drawings made by Norman Foster as a third year student!

I remember seeing these drawings as a student from USD library (even though we had a small collection in the initial years, it was very resourceful). This small library was my only source to the outside world, as it was early days for easy internet access. If i remember correctly, it was in the fat monograph number one, where i came across these drawings. I was amazed at that time, how one could draw with so much care, an ordinary mill like this.  I recently came across these again in pages of  Norman Foster Foundation, a very resourceful place which has some crazy documentation of most of  his works. It is common to preserve professional stuff with a lot of care (usually one gets to know the value of archiving/documenting only late in student life). Foster has preserved all his students works, even his first year student design projects, including the history sketchbooks. This archive is a timely reminder for us to document properly. One can sense in these drawings, the seed of ‘Fosterness’ is already evident in the way he is measure drawing an ordinary looking functional building. The care to observe details of how things are put together, a strain which he carried over in his practice.

In an interview, he talks about this building :

“This is one of the buildings I measured as a student while in Cambridgeshire. I measured a group of buildings, a big barn, a thatch barn, and a post mill, which you can see here. It’s not about old buildings being really rustic and picturesque and part of our heritage, but making the point that there are valuable lessons to be learnt from these buildings. Most people would probably not think twice about these. Because these buildings were so functional people often ignore the aesthetics of them. Maybe I’m trying to be too clever, maybe your readers will think I’ve lost my marbles or something. But it’s a very personal thing, and it’s one of the first buildings I measured, and one of the first buildings I looked at with an architect’s eye.”

46 - Principal47 - Principal27 - Principal28 - Principal