Activating Empathy through the Act of Drawing



Presentation / discussion and Selection


Abstract, Paper / artefact, and Poster


Louise De Brabander
Thierry Lagrange
Johan Van Den Berghe

Files: abstract (De Brabander, Lagrange and Van Den Berghe), poster (De Brabander), full paper (De Brabander, Lagrange and Van Den Berghe)

Fragments from proceedings (‘artefact submission’)’:


We propose to present a set of drawings as an artefact. Through these drawings, we propose the act of drawing as a moment of embodiment and a tool to further enhance empathy in observations of phenomena related to architectural design which are difficult to understand otherwise. This research aims to develop ways of understanding fragility in architecture through initiating an (empathic) drawing process. We aim to critically assess and reflect on three series of drawings, their interrelation and how making those drawings contributes to understanding fragility through empathy. We will discuss these three series of drawings: Firstly, we will discuss a selection of drawings out of the first author’s drawing archive, consisting of drawings made as a child, a youngster, an architectural student and an architectural researcher. To obtain insight in the author’s way of drawing and hence observing, the author’s drawing archive has been observed. The observation has indicated that drawings made two decades ago are interlinked with drawings made over the past five years. Secondly, we will bring to the fore a series of sketches of a Belgian dune landscape made on site. We will elaborate on how these sketches are an initiator for current drawing cycles by serving as memo drawings. To conclude, we will elaborate on a drawing series that comprises layered drawings that gradually decode and unravel spatial observations. /…/

Perspective, analogue drawing, proto-renaissance, design driven research



The drawing process as described above provided the research process with the leverage that was necessary to question the status of the window. First, the window has been drawn and understood as an object placed next to the draughtsman. /…/ Is the window an object placed next to the draughtsman who is looking at one place? Or does the draughtsman personify the window for many places? If so, what are these places and are they important? These questions will be the subject of the next research phase. The drawing cycles as described above have been necessary steps to make this clear. /…/ The research is making clear that the act of drawing is an intense and empathic moment of embodiment, hence being a moment it is temporal. In that moment the draughtsman dwells where his ‘object of obsession’ that he is drawing resides. /…/ This moment of becoming, and thus the empathic window through which we observe, is extremely fragile. This is the fragility we are seeking to investigate and understand through this research. /…/ The drawings are a way to avoid the destruction in this moment by capturing it in drawing cycles of this kind so they can possibly give more permanence to ‘the fragile’.