I enjoy documenting. I enjoy the design thinking that goes into good detailing, the artfulness of laying out a page, the methodical assembly of a rigorous documentation set. As the years have passed, I have codified a list of ten rules for exceptional documentation. Some have been bestowed upon me by peers like perfect golden nuggets of wisdom, others have come to me in epiphanic dreams, and yet others I have had to learn the hard way with gritted teeth and much yelling.
I hereby release this list into the wilds of the internet so that future architecture students may stumble upon its wholesome goodness in their moments of need.
An archive of the list can be accessed here.
5. Draw bigger than necessary
Producing a floor plan at 1:100. It’s the default scale, it’s what you learned at University, and it fits neatly on an A3 page. Your linework is finished so you start cramming in room names, relative levels, material codes, material hatches, door and window numbers, dimensions, annotations. There are a lot of dimensions, like a lot, so you push some of the notes onto the plan itself and drag others a bit further away. The notes are now occupying space needed by other things, so you reduce the size of the dimension text and squeeze the window numbers closer together.
Soon you have a dense network of lines, hatches, leaders and dimensions worthy of the London Tube. Your drawing is legible, but it’s messy and easy to misunderstand. An exceptional documentation set is not messy and it’s not easy to misunderstand. It is razor sharp and the archetype of clear communication.
So bump up the scale of your floor plan to 1:50, and don’t worry about the paper size – it can be what it needs to be. At 1:50, all the notes and tags and arrows and dimensions stay the same size but all of a sudden you have twice the drawing real estate:
- Grow floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, elevations and sections from 1:100 to 1:50.
- Grow internal plans and elevations from 1:50 to 1:20.
- Grow construction details from 1:10 to 1:5.
- Grow joinery details from 1:5 to 1:2.
- Draw bigger than necessary, author’s own image.