A diagram offers an abstract rendition or symbolic representation of a complex concept or situation. A diagram represents, using simplified visual cues, a complex state of affairs or a set of relations, that is, something that has happened, or even some event that is being planned. In order to do this, decisions concerning the selection of relevant information, and the elimination of irrelevant information have to be made. A diagram can be considered distinct from a plan or from orthogonal architectural representation as it is generally not to scale, and does not necessarily have an explicit relation of resemblance to a represented object (or building) located in the world. Where a plan (horizontal section) and a cross section, etc, ‘look like’ you have sliced through a building, a diagram does not necessarily ‘look like’ whatever it is referring to. Nevertheless, architectural drawings are sometimes referred to as diagrams. A diagram can also be a map, for instance, a subway map (which is not to scale, and does not ‘resemble’ what it refers to, but instead focuses on relationships between stations), or even a cartographical map that does bear a scalar relationship to some terrain (urban or otherwise), but which emphasises some features of that terrain and de-emphasizes others. A diagram can be helpful as it can explain relations between humans and things, as well as directionality, and movement in a projected or given scenario. A diagram can also help visualise a complex concept, and so it can be illustrative of an argument, an idea or a theory.
Collage is a technique that combines different scraps of coloured, textured and/or patterned paper to create some visual (even haptic) effect. Collage comes from the French word, coller, to glue. Generally the materials collected to create a collage are found materials, or anything that is ready-to-hand. Collage can also be related to the technique of montage, which can be distinguished from collage in that it generally combines (photographic) images rather than coloured and textured paper and other found materials. Montage, or ‘photomontage’ is a technique that creates effects of juxtaposition. Montage is more generally associated with the moving image or film and the way moving images are sequentially juxtaposed to generate visual cues to the development of a story, a passage through time, or to the arousal of some affect (or ‘emotion’).
A storyboard is a visual device regularly used in the planning process of a film. A storyboard sequentially unfolds the planned action according to a series of image captures, or framed moments that depict a temporal or narrative sequence. The idea is to establish when key shifts in action or narrative occur, and describe these with simple images. The difficulty of relating this to architecture is that the storyboard assumes the fixity and control of the device of a frame, and the frame’s relationship to the screen upon which a film will eventually be projected. Nevertheless, it is a useful technique to explore, as it allows a designer to describe action that is taking place in a given spatio-temporal context. The Architect/theorist Bernard Tschumi famously improvised the use of the storyboard for architecture (see The Manhattan Transcripts), in order to examine relationships between built object and event, building type and program, and so forth.