The Working Drawing

The Working Drawing

The Architect's Tool

The first comprehensive book on a rarely published architectural topic.


  • Out of Print


Title Information

Edited by Annette Spiro and David Ganzoni

1st edition

, 2013


328 pages, 262 color and 77 b/w illustrations

24.5 x 32.5 cm

ISBN 978-3-906027-31-9


Large-size working drawings are an elementary means in the architectural process and the actual construction of a building. Yet very little has been written and published about the architect’s quintessential tool. This new book aims to close this gap. It draws on a vast collection of working drawings from many centuries held by the Department of Architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). The collection, put together and categorized under the direction of Annette Spiro, comprises plans for a wide range of architectural tasks and features manifold representational techniques.

The book presents around 100 of the collection’s highlights from five centuries, arranged by category for direct comparison. All plans are depicted entirely in color on large-size spreads and fold-outs. Full catalog details and a detail in true size are provided for each drawing.

Mario Carpo, Hermann Czech, Tom Emerson, Philipp Esch, David Ganzoni, Uta Hassler & Daniel Stockhammer, Ákos Moravánszky, Urs Primas, Kornel Ringli, Stephan Rutishauser, Jonathan Sergison, and Philip Ursprung contribute essays on various aspects of the topic.


Winner of the DAM Architectural Book Award 2014.


Designed by Esther Rieser.


Deutsche Ausgabe

Authors & Editors

Mario Carpo

Hermann Czech

, born 1936, lives and works as an architect and architectural publicist and critic in Vienna. He has taught as a visiting professor at University of Applied Arts Vienna, (1985–86), Harvard Graduate School of Design (1988–89 and 1993–94), ETH Zurich (2004–07), and Technische Universität Wien (2008–09), and has published widely.

Tom Emerson

 is a founding partner with 6a Architects in London and a Professor of Architecture and Construction at ETH Zurich’s School of Architecture.

Philipp Esch

David Ganzoni

 is an architect and an associate with Annette Spiro’s Chair of Architecture and Construction at ETH Zurich.

Uta Hassler

Ákos Moravánszky

Urs Primas

Kornel Ringli

, born 1972, studied architecture and did his PhD at ETH Zurich. He works with a Zürich-based non-profit organization for real estate management and as a freelance architectural publicist.

Stephan Rutishauser

Jonathan Sergison

 graduated from the Architectural Association in London 1989 and gained professional experience working for David Chipperfield and Tony Fretton before establishing Sergison Bates architects in 1996. He is also a professor of Architectural Design at the Academy of Architecture (Università della Svizzera intaliana) in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Annette Spiro

 is a professor for Architecture and Construction at at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich).

Philip Ursprung

, born 1963, read art history, history, and German literature and linguistics at the universitries of Geneva, Vienna and Berlin. He has been a professor of modern and contemporary art at University of Zürich 2005–11 and a professor of histroy of art and architecture at ETH Zurich since 2011.


"This exquisite history celebrates the enduring, pivotal role of the working drawing. […] There is an archival quality to the book with its thick paper and excellent print quality, the way it emphasises the scribbled note and rubbed-out line as much as anything else, a sense of deep concern that we should not forget the craftsmanship, and the act of making that was involved in many of these drawings." Adam Nathaniel Furman, RIBA Journal, 2014


"Should you however wish to put politics aside and return to the art of building, you can contemplate the soberly named The Working Drawing. I can’t honestly recommend this for people with only a passing interest in architecture, but for those passionate or nerdy about the subject it is a quite beautiful collection of the drawings architects make to communicate their ideas to builders." Rowan Moore, The Guardian, The best architecture books of 2014