professional drafting

The Evolution of Architectural Drafting Over the Years

Just like the classic puzzle of whether the egg or the chicken came first, a similar question arises in architecture—does planning precede drawings, or vice versa? 

Architectural drawings provide a common platform for communication among various professionals involved in a project, including architects, engineers, contractors, and craftsmen. 

While we all acknowledge that drawings are the backbone of planning, do we truly understand how long they have been in the field?

Looking back in history

The oldest architectural plan, “desert kites,” found in southeastern Jordan, dates back 9,000 years, indicating that architectural plans were early practical tools shaping the human environment. Research by Elif Ongut also suggests that, fundamentally, the primal need for shelter in prehistoric times marked the inception of architecture.

Desert Kites, photo by Guy Baroz
Desert Kites, photo by Guy Baroz via Wikipedia
Fast forward to earlier civilizations, Egyptians documented their designs on a material known as papyrus. It was during this period that architectural instructions for colossal structures like the pyramids were meticulously outlined. However, the accuracy of building sizes was not guaranteed, as they utilized the human body as a unit of measurement, and that body sizes differ. 
Plans of Egyptian Temples, photo by pinterest
Plans of Egyptian Temples, photo by pinterest via Wikipedia
In the medieval period, Da Vinci’s approach during the Renaissance transformed the way we perceive and create complex technical drawings. His meticulous attention to detail and use of perspective laid the foundation for a new era in drafting. In France, this has also unfolded the demand for precise engineering drawings through orthographic projection and scale. 
Central church by Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante’s floor plans by Francisco Javier Roldán-Medina
Central church by Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante’s floor plans by Francisco Javier Roldán-Medina via researchgate
Subsequently, drafting instruments, such as parallel rulers and drafting machines, enhanced precision and expedited the drafting process.

Modern Times

The late 20th century witnessed a technological leap that catapulted drafting into the digital age. Manual drafting methods were gradually replaced by software-integrated drafting tools such as AutoCAD, Revit, and SketchUp. This shift defined innovative drafting, enabling project teams to collaborate more effectively.
AI-driven technologies have also taken a spot in streamlining workflows with these platforms and tools. However, as the digital age progresses, drafters find themselves at the crossroads of innovation and responsibility. This integration of AI transforms the drafting practices, yet it has raised some eyebrows in the field, doubting its ethical compass. 


Drafting has evolved significantly, with each era leaving its mark on the approach to the art and science of drafting. Clearly, the future cannot be predicted, but potential trends could shape the future of the drafting world. As we advance in the digital age, the impact of these milestones continues to shape contemporary architectural practices.

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