‘Diagram’ is one of the most used words in architecture and urban design. There is always the thought, “We need some diagrams to explain the idea.” As one usually says, “If we draw the parti-diagram, we can show it as there two parts.”, diagram is seen as a tool to deliver an idea. However, it is more than simply showing the client, the public, or the boss to help the, understand the idea. It is an element of design in itself.
Depending on the wellness of the organization of the diagrams, they can become the ideas that perfectly visualize the context of the site. For example, Rem Koolhaas’ Seattle Library’s massing was the product of the program diagram derived from the reinterpretation of change in program due to change in time. We can also often see the diagram being the initial concept as well as the final product like Zainie Zainul’s winning proposal of Shinkenchiku Residential Competition: Another Glass House in 1991 where Tadao Ando was the judge.
Although there are moments of unclear boundaries with a sketch or a concept model, I think a diagram is more of an intended expression coming from the head than a result that is created by new ideas coming from experiments that happen within unconsciousness of the fingertips. Although there are various ways to express ideas, such as physical model, sketch, cartoon, computer model, or photography, a diagram takes the initial step to become a design too; by its ability to deliver the idea very clearly and precisely in minimal form. Therefore, like the final design product, architect’s unique style of creativity is an important factor in the diagram as well. The finished form of architecture is a space that is felt and remembered without any special descriptions or diagrams, and some that leaves behind sentimentality is impossible to be explained by diagrams. Also, there is no guarantee that people will read and remember the architecture by the exact intentions expressed by the diagrams. The master architects may not need diagrams to create their masterpiece – they have their hands and sense. However, the society is becoming more complex. There is an increase in information and desires of the city, where architecture is the design subject. With broad issues including material, environment, ecology, and behavior, clear diagram becomes more important within today. This applies especially to the young architects yet to be stable and I, as well, have my architectural mind into diagrammatic form in order to communicate more clearly within the design process and also to develop the design itself.
In Korean architecture field, it seems there are two different attitudes among young architects. Some architects are not using diagram consciously but trying to communicate with only drawings and completed space. Architects in the other side are strongly using diagram strategically in all phase of design. I believe all of those two attitudes are good resolution for the future of Korean architecture if they have strong identities without just following trend.