The relationship between the human body and the architectural form gives an insight into the design world. The architect’s design principles and beliefs are evident in their sketches. Hence, human drawings drawn by architects work as their design signatures. The human body can be considered a measurement of architecture. Starting with research by Vitruvius, many architects have contributed to exploring the association in greater detail.
The 10 architect’s human figures drawings analyzed below show the association between God’s creation and the architecture created by the creation.

1. Leonardo Da Vinci | Human Figures Drawings

Leonardo Da Vinci drew ‘The Vitruvius Man’ around 1487, based on De Architectura, an architectural treatise by the renowned Roman architect and engineer Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. It is also known as the ‘Canon of Proportions’ and ‘Proportions of a man’.

The pen and ink human figures drawings show two male figures overlapping each other in different positions and inscribed in a square and a circle. Always been interested in anatomical studies, Leonardo Da Vinci represented the structural stability of the human body and related the same with architecture in this creation. He exhibited that a man with his feet securely on the ground and arms extended out can be accommodated within a square and in a spread-eagle position can be inscribed in a circle. He also explored the relationship of the human body with nature. Therefore, this demonstration proves his quote -“Realize that everything connects to everything else.”

The drawing is kept at the Galleriedell’Accademia in Venice, Italy since 1882 and is exhibited rarely. It remains one of the major works done during the Renaissance era. 

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Human figures ©Medium

2. Le Corbusier 

Earlier, the building of Greeks, Egyptian civilizations like the Parthenon, the temples, and cathedrals were constructed using the imperial measurement of units. However, the French Revolution introduced the world to standardization, and the metric measurement of units came into use. This led to the inconsistency of architectural units.

Le Corbusier was an admirer of the works done by Vitruvius, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Leo Battista Alberti. He took the task to correlate the relationship between the human body, architecture, and beauty. So, he came up with Modulor in 1948 and Modulor 2 in 1953. The human proportions, the Fibonacci numbers, and the Golden Ration were kept in mind for the Modulor. He quoted – “Humanity, that’s the basic value of Modulor.”

Also, the human figures are muscular and robust in appearance which shows the bold, and sculptural expressionism of Le Corbusier.

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Human figures ©iDesignWiki

3. Álvaro Siza

Alvaro Siza’s sketches are drawn with the continuous black line on white sheets, without any use of color and line thickness. His architectural drawings frequently had disproportionate human figures and sometimes animals, drawn from his memory. The people who appeared in his drawings could be someone he had spent time with or an old acquaintance. This exhibited a rare amalgamation of architectural drawings, landscape elements, humans, and animals. His ‘poetic modernism’ ideology can be seen in the labyrinth sketches.

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4. Frank O. Gehry

Frank O. Gehry’s signature unusual forms distinguish his sketches as well as design from others. The human sketches are done with fluid fine lines and spontaneous improvisations. His post-modern design philosophy can be seen in the sketches. The free-flowing messy line sketches are scribble to him having certain meanings, which helps him to create something new with each design.

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5. Oscar Niemeyer | Human Figures Drawings

Oscar Niemeyer metaphorically associated a female form with his love for mountains, rivers, oceans, sun, and sky. This philosophy has been seen in his design as the sensual, wavy, and delicate curves of the buildings represent the feminine characteristic. For him, ‘Form follows Feminine’. The same interpretation can be seen in his human sketches. The figure shows a female resting on her stomach, feeling the tenderness of the moment.

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6. Santiago Calatrava

Santiago Calatrava has used his imagination to draw human figures. The figures have also been integrated with design drawings. The juxtaposition of geometric forms like cubes with human figures in various positions is evident in his work. Some of his furniture sketches are based on the structural stability of the human body. Also, the motifs in the form of an eye with the focus on the pupil have been an eminent feature of his sketches and design. The sketches have been made using various techniques like watercolor and simple sketches.

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7. Steven Holl

Steven Holl is known for his watercolor sketches and phenomenal designs. However, he started drawing with a pencil and later turned to watercolor as they are easy to carry around. The figure is colored using watercolors with a black outline. The firmness remains intact, just like his designs following the Corbusier approach.

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8. Walter Gropius

Walter Gropius is known as the founder of Bauhaus, the German School of Building that encloses characteristics of art, architecture, and various types of designs that followed the basic principles of design.

His ideology translated to his human figure, focusing on classic and basic geometric aesthetics devoid of any decorative details and ornamentation. The figure has used minimal lines with basic details into account.

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9. Peter Cook

A look at Peter Cook’s sketches tells a story, colored with watercolors, airbrushes, and colored pencils. He normally sketches a new idea as a doodle and later refines the work. In human sketches, various textures are shown by doodling to show hair and clothes, making it a more detailed work. Just like his designs, the sketches also talk about the surrounding, which he describes as a ‘sense of theatre’.

Human figures ©Pinterest

10. Leon Krier | Human Figures Drawings

The sketches show the unusual juxtapositions, proportions, and off-scale perspective. They showed what the world has failed to understand. The sketches talk about ancient architectural theory and comparison to modern urbanization.

Human figures ©thou shalt not wear pants – Tumblr
Human figures ©thou shalt not wear pants – Tumblr
 ©thou shalt not wear pants – Tumblr



Aarushi is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in architecture. She believeslife is about exploringand experiencing the beautiful world around us. She finds solace in penning down her thoughts. She wants to ‘malgudi’ng her way through every aspect of architecture.