Never Design in CAD

I sent an email today to all students in the school. It is actually the tip of the iceberg. The precursor of things to come. The new deal for UM Architecture School.


When I was in my early twenties, I had two passions – design and teaching. But it took me another 15 years before I decided to be a lecturer. One thing that helped me in becoming a designer at that time, was that I loved to draw people. By drawing people, I learned about proportions. But drawing architecture was not really that interesting at first. It was only through design theory and history that I really learned to like architecture more. Also, I did not like to draw perspectives, but after I repeated my third year in UTM, I vowed to tackle that and corrected that mistake plus my poor construction details and eventually mastered drawing perspectives and did proper details.

I do not draw much nowadays or design much for that matter as other job functions are pulling me away from that endeavour. But after being around as a lecturer for 3 years (UTM)  plus 13 years (UM), I know that without proper manual drawing skills, you will be handicapped to be a good designer.

Every student in UM Architecture School in the past and now, you, in the present will need to learn and eventually have the proper skills on manual graphic presentation, and most essential to that, will be able to draw well manually using technical pens, pencils, markers (0.6 Artline) and other hand-drawn medium. Being able to quickly represent well your ideas is very important to be a good designer. Quick perspective sketches, sections and plans using the scale rule are essential to get you moving quickly in keeping with your thought process.

A designer should be able to verbalize, but architects communicate most with their drawings, as bread and butter of their profession. If their drawings could say so much, they need to say little to justify their ideas and concepts.

All the years from first year to fifth year, it is important for you to know that we are not really looking at your CAD drawings, but more of your key diagrams and drawings that are done manually. These are essential to your thought process, which can articulate the nuances and poetics of your design.

Please make it a priority for you to be able to draw very well using manual drawing techniques. And do not design in CAD, as it will work against you. Make sure you design manually from start to finish (developing the design) and when you are really sure of the scheme, only then you can produce it in CAD. But never design in CAD, because you will never be a good designer that way.



  1. CAD is an amazing thing. It comes in very handy and it is much easier to use. However I agree with this author. To become a good designer you really must start doing it manually. Doing the work manually is a lot more difficult however it gives you a better grasp in the architect field.

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