PREGNANT POCHÉ: Potent Mass / Massive Potential

Essay published in PLAT Journal's issue 4.0.

ABSTRACT: Poché is an instrumental invention of architectural drawing practice. In its typical manifestation, poché is a technique to draw the thickness or space inside walls or floors that intersect the plane of the section cut. Stone and masonry buildings that are constructed of thick materials indulge in poché to illustrate the shear thickness and mass of their walls. However, in most contemporary buildings not constructed out of heavy masonry, the solid rendering of poché in drawings is misleading because it represents in-between space rather than material thickness. Pockets of leftover, liminal space frequently contain structure, ductwork, and mechanical, electrical, and plumping equipment. As such, the demarcation of poché on a drawing can function as a specialized instance of "bounding lines, [i.e.] the sequential passing off of work" from architects to other specialists. Unlike more explicit bounding lines, however, the highly accepted and routinized nature of poché as a drawing convention comes with ambiguity and mystery. The innards of a poché typically remain completely undefined.

The aggregate functions of poché as an illustration of sheer mass, a drafting convention laden with mystery, a demarcation of labor division, and as a formal catalyst of drama has further potential that is yet to be explored and exploited collectively. Fueled by a close reading of three recent projects, this paper posits seven projective tactics that employ pregnant poché as a design technique and as an affective punchline to engage small group collectives.

© Could Be Architecture, 2014. Photo by Will Trotty.