The Landscape Guide

Construction design

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In construction, as always, there is an important distinction between the design drawing and the builder's drawing. The design drawing should show how things fit together and what the completed work will look like. An axonometric drawing that "descends' into a cross-section is a very simple way of conveying this information. Examiners are unsurprisingly unimpressed, and unutterably bored, by the ability to copy construction details out of books or filch them from a computer library. This would not matter, but for the fact that standard details produce standard places. I would be sorry if the streets of London and Paris came to resemble those of California because that is where the computer-aided design software was written.

Here are five ways of learning about construction design.

1. Looking at built examples of good design.
2. Building things yourself.
3. Talking to craftsmen and watch them work.
3. Reading books on construction design.
4. Studying trade catalogues.
5. Listening to lectures on construction.

If, after doing all these things, you still find your knowledge of the subject woefully inadequate, do not be disheartened. It is impossible for students of architecture and landscape design to learn all, or even much, about construction. At best, you can learn some principles and some examples of specific techniques. On most construction jobs, it is necessary to read books and speak to manufacturers and, if you cannot learn to do the work yourself, to speak to people who have practical experience of the techniques. This is the crucial skill.

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