27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings

Illustration for article titled 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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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

Illustration for article titled 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.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

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.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: AP


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: NASA/Glenn Research Center


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: NASA/Langley Research Center


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Ptak Science Books


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Nuclear Engineering International magazine


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: NASA


Tank assembly lines, 1942.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


Food market, 1950.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


Ice cream factory, 1951.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


Crossing the River Mersey, Liverpool.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


An underwater condo complex.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


1962: The Space Needle, Seattle.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: x-ray delta one


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Glen.H


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: magpie-moon


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Wikimedia Commons


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

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.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: ArchiPress


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Metro Transportation Library and Archive


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

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Image: Metro Transportation Library and Archive


Plan of BBC television centre, London, 1958.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

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.

Illustration for article titled 27 Cutaway Drawings That Show All the Secrets of Buildings
Advertisement

Photo: Bob Daugherty/AP


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

Advertisement

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

What?! No Paul Rudolph?! No Henri Labrouste?? Sorely missing some of the greats of the section perspective.

The Labrouste is too subtle to show up as brilliantly on screen as it appears in person. But his drawings are sublime.

I'd also argue that it's as helpful and relevant today. As the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural, and architectural systems in a building are becoming quite complex, 3d visualization and understanding of their respective relationships is critical an finding and avoiding errors. While it is done in CAD, the rise of BIM has brought back the section/section-perspective quite a bit.