The Importance of Details

Author: Lindsey Trout

In the essay “The Importance of Details,” author Lindsey Trout boldly lays out questions for today’s learning methods in architecture schools. She draws parallels between the work of Marco Frascari and Scarpa to support that architecture is not only about ideas and concepts but also about details and craftsmanship. She recommends architecture schools to focus more on this aspect and encourages students to spent hours in workshops. Editor: Nima Ferdosi

Figure 1 Detail Sketches, Carlo Scarpa

In his 1984 essay “The Tell-the-Tale Detail,” Marco Frascari makes the argument for detailing in architecture. He states that “as the selection of words and style gives character to the sentence, in a similar way the selection of details and style gives character to a building[1].” Just imagine a book with no adjectives or adverbs. While
likely quite short and concise, it produces no feelings, no inspiration. Such is a building with no details. Bland, insipid, watered-down.

Figure 2 Detail work, Carlo Scarpa

As the master of detailing, Fascari uses Carlo Scarpa for many examples. Scarpa’s details are indeed gorgeous and inspiring, but he did not learn that skill sitting behind a computer. It did not come from even hand drafting master details of the past.

Figure 3 God is in the details

Scarpa’s artistry in detailing comes from hours spent in the workshop – both creating himself and learning from craftsmen. Architecture schools are failing in the teaching of detailing. Simply telling students to draw details does not create love for craftsmanship nor does it create an understanding of how that detail comes to fruition. Lines on a paper or a screen, will never be real until you create them with your own hands. Until you feel how the materials work and connect, their life will always be a conundrum. Details engage the senses. It is time, as architects, for us to step away from the computer, to use our hands and create. To understand what our lines mean, for us, for our craftsmen, and for our world.

[1] Kate Nesbitt, ed., Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995, 1st ed (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 502.


works cited

“Drawing ARCHITECTURE | Carlo Scarpa.” Drawing ARCHITECTURE. Accessed April 17, 2017.

Illuminati, Alberto. God Is in the Details Mies Van Der Rohe. Photo, November 10, 2016.

Nesbitt, Kate, ed. Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995. 1st ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996.

Steffes, Kyter. Carlo Scarpa, Fertile Detail. Photo, February 17, 2012.



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