Technical Drawing: Elevations and Sections

Loft Conversions

Technical Drawing: Elevations and Sections

 

In Part 4 of the Technical Drawing series we are going to explore elevations and sections. We will look at the differences between elevations and sections, what information should be included in them and finish with our drawing checklists.

 

What is the difference between a section and an elevation?

 

An elevation shows a vertical surface seen from a point of view perpendicular to the viewers picture plane. For example if you stand directly in front of a building and view the front of the building, you are looking at the front elevation.

 

A section, take a slice through the building or room and show the relationship between floors, ceilings, walls and so on.

 

In a standard set of architectural plans on a small residential project, the elevations will most likely be a set of drawings from the main facades of the building. For example, front, back and two sides – or north, south, east and west.

 

The sections would most likely be two or more sections cut at 90 degrees of one another to give information on both directions of the space. We will explore all of these options in more detail.

Elevations

 

The elevation can be both an external elevation, like a building facade, or an internal elevation, like a wall in a kitchen. Elevations are shown as a flat plane, but depth can be indicated with line weights and shading if appropriate.

 

Scale of the elevation will be dependent on the information shown. Usually an external elevation will be the same scale as the floor plans that it corresponds with, however, an interior elevation, which is usually showing more detail, may be at a larger scale.

 

External Elevation

The external elevation will show a vertical surface or plan seen from a perpendicular point of view. It could be that you only need a set of four elevations, or you may need many more. For example, the building may have courtyards, a complicated floor plan that requires more communication of the elevations. Usually the elevations are titled according to the compass direction they are facing, ie north, south and so on.

 

The elevation will often show materials and finishes of the building, and possibly some context to the building depending on the scale. Elevations can show gridlines and finished floor levels, and depending on the stage of design can show window/door numbering and dimensions. The elevation needs to show the reader information that cannot be seen on the plan. For example, a complicated brick pattern will only be visible on the elevation and cannot be communicated through the plan alone.

 

Showing context to the building on the elevation is also useful to the reader. For example, external landscaping, levels of paths that surround the building and other key features are useful when reading the elevations.

Internal Elevations

 

Internal elevations are drawn to provide further information that cannot be seen in the floor plans or sections. For example, a floor plan of a kitchen does not show whether the kitchen units contain cupboards or drawers, and how many. The internal elevation gives detailed views of the interior, with attention to heights, materials and finishes, surfaces, cabinetry, doors, objects and dimensions.

 

Finishes can be demonstrated using hatches and labelled using leaders or a key. Interior elevations will show dimensions for clarity, particularly heights which may not be shown on the floor plan.

Checklist for Elevations:

 

General drawing

  • Drawing sheet title block
  • Drawing Title
  • Scale
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Door and window labels/numbering
  • Show door swing with dashed line
  • Reference other drawings if necessary

 

Annotations and labels

  • Label materials/finishes
  • Windows and door labels
  • Finished floor levels
  • External levels where appropriate
  • Changes in levels, steps, stairs and ramps
  • Label main components or reference them to a key/legend

 

Dimensions

  • Dimension wall locations (and note whether the dimension is taken from face of wall, centre line or other surface)
  • Dimension heights of important items (interior elevations)
  • Dimension walls to structural components
  • Give diameter of any circular elements, curved walls or similar
  • Dimension built in items, cabinetry, partitions (interior elevations – if necessary)

Sections

 

A section is a vertical cut through a space. Sections describe the relationship between spaces and different levels. The position of the section cut line is important, as this will need to show the most useful information about the space it is cutting through. Usually two section cuts are used at right angles to one another so the reader can see the space in both directions.

 

The section line of cut is indicated in the floor plan, with an arrow or marker showing which way the section is looking. The section marker on the plan will reference the drawing number of the section and the layout sheet it is located on.

 

Sections will often show an indication of structure, foundations and so on – but the amount of information shown will depend on the stage of design.

 

Early stages of design may just show a solid hatch for the cut surfaces like walls and floors, but later in more detailed design, a more detailed drawing may give an indication of construction and materials.

 

Sections can be drawn of a complete building, a small interior space or even an object. It is important to consider what you are trying to show with the section and how much information the reader will need in order to understand your design. If your section is part of a set of construction drawings it will be showing the reader how the building is constructed, so things like dimensions, floor levels, materials and finishes will be shown. If it is a section drawing for planning, you may omit some of the more detailed information for more of a feeling of the space.

 

Sections can be a great addition to a presentation board, and are often used in visual displays. However, here we are focusing more on the technical section drawing, rather than the graphic/visual representations we often see on the likes of Pinterest or Instagram. So, the examples below are some sections that are more geared toward construction and planning drawings rather than presentation sections.

Checklist for Sections:

 

General drawing

  • Drawing sheet title block
  • Drawing Title
  • Scale
  • Materials are rendered using recognisable hatches or symbols
  • Use different line weights to communicate cut objects, depth and hierarchy
  • Reference other drawings if necessary

 

Annotations and labels

  • Label materials/finishes
  • Windows and door labels
  • Finished floor levels
  • External levels where appropriate
  • Changes in levels, steps, stairs and ramps
  • Label main components or reference them to a key/legend
  • Room name labels
  • Depending on purpose/nature of drawing section, note cabinetry, appliances etc.

 

Dimensions

  • Dimension heights of important elements such as floor levels
  • Dimension any important  items that cannot be shown on the plan
  • Dimension built in items, cabinetry, partitions (if necessary)

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