27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Cutaway or cross-section drawings are mostly just fancy residues of a long-gone era when engineering and architecture visualisation was based on hand-drawn images that were often closer to art than boring illustration.

Today, when mostly CAD and computer graphics rule the field, the following selection of images from the past seems so exciting. Make sure you click on the "expand" button on each picture to see all the delicious little details! And feel free to add your favorite cutaway building in the discussions below.

Section showing the interior of Wyld's Monster Globe, which stood in Leicester Square, London, from 1851 to 1861.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


An artist's impression showing of the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, 1974.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Space Frontiers/Getty Images


1950: Diagram of a typical subway bomb shelter proposed for New York City in a 104 Million dollar bomb shelter program outlined by the Board of Transportation.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: AP


1968: Drawing of the 10x10 foot wind tunnel at the Glenn Research Center.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: NASA/Glenn Research Center


1955: the 16-Foot high speed tunnel (HST) at the Langley Research Center.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: NASA/Langley Research Center


Cutaway illustration of the Neutral Buoyancy Simulator (NBS) at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), ca. 1968.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center


Architect and city planner Oscar Newman's plan of a massive underground sphere beneath Manhattan, 1969.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Ptak Science Books


A family in their backyard underground bomb shelter, early 1960s.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Wylfa Magnox nuclear power plant, Wylfa, Anglesey, UK, 1965.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Nuclear Engineering International magazine


An early space station concept drawing appeared in the 1959 Space The New Frontier brochure produced by NASA.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: NASA


Tank assembly lines, 1942.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Food market, 1950.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Ice cream factory, 1951.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Fred Freeman's impression of a lunar base, 1952.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Crossing the River Mersey, Liverpool.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


An underwater condo complex.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Atomic power plant of the future imagined by Ray Pioch in the Fifties.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


1962: The Space Needle, Seattle.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: x-ray delta one


Palace of the Soviets, Moscow, concept by Boris Iofan, 1936.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Glen.H


Piccadilly Circus cutaway, London Transport Museum, 1989. Illustration by Gavin Dunn.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: magpie-moon


Draft artwork for the Naval Cathedral in Kronstadt by Vasily and Georgy Kosyakov, 1903.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Wikimedia Commons


1859: design of Chersones Cathedral of St. Vladimir by David Grimm. East-west cutaway.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Wikimedia Commons


"Aerial cutaway view of the Bank of England from the south-east" – a watercolour by Joseph Michael Gandy, 1830, courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: ArchiPress


The Metro Rail station at 5th and Hill, Los Angeles, 1983.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Metro Transportation Library and Archive


View of a proposed Red Line station at Wilshire and La Brea, Los Angeles, 1983

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: Metro Transportation Library and Archive


Plan of BBC television centre, London, 1958.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Image: tvstudiohistory.co.uk


Bonus photo: Architect Paolo Soleri rests in front of his “3-D Jersey,” a cutaway model on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, Feb. 17, 1970. It’s his idea of a supersonic jetport and city that might be built on the mud flats of New Jersey across the Hudson River from New York City. The structure he suggests is not just a jetport but a city, including hanging sunlit gardens, terminals and offices, hotels and theaters, and dwellings for one million.

27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Photo: Bob Daugherty/AP


Top image: the Dungeness B nuclear reactor, Kent, England—Nuclear Engineering International magazine