How Technology is Evolving Construction Drawings

5th March 2019

Construction drawings are the lifeblood of any construction project because literally there would be constructed without these. Construction drawings include architectural, engineering, plumbing, and electrical plans and these drawings provide all the crucial information about the project. This information comes in the form of graphic and written and are needed by all who are working on any construction project.

A Quick Look at How Construction Drawing Evolved Throughout History

The construction drawings have come a long way from its humble beginnings in the ancient times where it was usually drawn in the stone pillars and are erased as soon as the buildings are finished. The Temple of Apollo at Didyma in Greece holds the evidence on this when archaeologists found a “construction drawing” in an unfinished stone wall in one part of the temple.

The blueprint as we know it today started to appear in its earliest form during the dark ages or the medieval times. The oldest known surviving architectural plan is the plan of St. Gall which is considered the national treasure of Switzerland. One of the most fascinating thing about this is that the plan was never built. It got its name because it was kept at the famous medieval monastery library at the Abbey of St. Gall where people can wonder at it to this day.

It was during the Renaissance when the drawings looked a lot like the modern blueprints as we know it today. It was during this time period that the father of the modern blueprint Filippo Brunelleschi used the camera obscura from the classical ruins that became the basis of his works. You can see his work when you visit the Florence Cathedral and marvel at its dome which he built.

The modern blueprint got its distinctive blue color during the year 1842 when John Herschel discovered the cyanotype process where the architectural drawing was made on a semi-transparent paper, and then it was weighed down on top of a sheet of cloth that was coated with potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate which are photosensitive. At the final stages, the document is exposed to light, and the exposed parts of the background of the drawing became blue, while the drawing lines blocked the coated paper from exposure and remained white.

During the 19th and 20th century, there was a big surge forward because of the invention of a wide array of chemical and mechanical processes like the Diazo process which gave us the white print. There were also the Aniline prints, Cyanotypes, Diazotypes, Gel Lithographs, and Van Dyke Prints to name a few.

Architectural Drawings Today

Nowadays, construction drawings have evolved from being drawn on paper to other mediums such as Virtual Reality or BIM. Here are some ways that construction drawings have evolved to.

  1. BIM. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is changing the way construction drawings are being made. BIM is the process of the management of the physical and functional information of a project. The output of this process is digital files that show and describe every aspect of the project in which each part is related to every other part that’s involved. BIM is more than 3d Modelling which involves width height and depth, it also expands to other dimensions such as time (4D), cost (5D), and as-built operation (6D).
  2. Construction Drawing Management Software. Although the construction industry is still largely paper-based, it is quickly changing with the introduction of cloud-based drawing document management software where users can store and access construction plans online. And also make markups in real time. No more losing or forgetting where the construction drawings are stored.
  3. Virtual Reality. Virtual reality has found use in architecture in BIM or CAD, but visualization of the actual project in 3D is only one of the things that Visualization of the actual project in 3d is only one of the things that virtual reality is capable of doing. There is new technology in VR that is currently being developed and perfected that will soon allow architects, designers, and engineers to build buildings and machines from scratch.

Making designs using VR allows the designer to use their hands so that they can manipulate objects and create a more organic shape with higher levels of details. Working with their hands allows more control on how the design will look like from the inside out as well as making the designer feel up close and personal with their design.

These are only some of the new ways that technology is evolving how construction drawings are made, and with the way, technology is going at a dizzying rate, it’s anyone’s guess on how future construction drawings will look like.  

Corey is an all round tech guru who has worked at some major blue chip companies. He started Poweronemedia to share his views and knowledge with the rest of the blogging world.