How to Develop Successful Architecture Concepts in Architecture School
Concepts are the key themes and ideas underpinning every studio project in architecture school. This is how you develop a successful concept.
Concepts are what drive your architecture projects forward. Without a concept, your project has no legs. With a concept, you can get passionate for your project to take it to higher levels.
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How to Develop Successful Architecture Concepts in Architecture School
Architecture concepts are what drive your projects forward. Your concept is the key item underpinning every studio project in architecture school and plays an important role in determining whether your project is successful or not. Without
Concepts are what drive your architecture projects forward. They are the fundamental items underpinned to every studio project in architecture school and play an important role in determining if your architecture project is successful or not. Without a concept, your project has no legs. With a concept, you can get passionate for your project to take it to much higher levels.
For studio 4 I was given a brief to design something having a key focus on the design concept. There was little focus on budget, structure, sustainability, detailing. Rather, we were able to immerse ourselves in the purity of architectural creativity. I’ll be going over my studio 4 project which has been my most successful concept and project to date to explain how you can develop successful architecture concepts in architecture school. Stick around to the end of this video to hear my best advice for developing concepts and to also see some examples of incredible architectural concepts.
There is a lot that goes into an architecture concept. And I’m going to go over an exact strategy plan for you to follow to come up with your own successful concepts, But if there was one thing I’d like for you to take away from this video, it’s this – the most important thing to know is that a concept takes time to develop. It’s not something you can pump out in 20 minutes. It’s not a word you pick from the air, or a diagram you sketched, it’s an idea. It’s a multitude of ideas. It is not something that is chosen but formed and developed over time. Think of the forming of the Earth. The mountains and valleys weren’t just placed there, scientifically speaking, but moulded from external elements, volcanic eruptions, wind, water, temperature, climate, natural events that formed the rocks over millions of years.
Your architecture concept is an idea that is moulded over time from external elements. Just by working on your project and spending time on it. It needs time to stew and ferment.
This doesn’t just mean waiting patiently at your desk. Here’s the process for stewing up the perfect concept.
Step 1 – distilling the brief.
All studio projects begin with the briefing. In architecture school, you’re given a brief. A document stating what is being asked of you for this project. In real life, you’ll need to talk with the client to understand what it is they want so that you can form this brief yourself.
This is fundamentally where projects rise, and other projects fall. It’s overlooked how important understanding the brief is. I would spend a whole day underlining, highlighting and trying to debunk the brief. Understand what is being asked of you. This is where your first ideas will start to cook up. Really, the key for step 1 is to sum up the brief in your own words. Don’t underestimate the power of who, what, where why, how. List everything you can.
You want to try and distil the brief down to a couple of key words. Through a filtration process you want to filter out the unimportant and focus on the key information.
A lot of people become so overwhelmed with their projects that they start to get stuck. They stagnate and lose motivation. This is often caused by looking at the brief as this huge document, and the brief ends up becoming a wall from stopping you moving forward.
You need to distil it down to a couple of important key words. That filtration process happens by reading it over and over, understanding it by highlighting keywords, underlining important information and rewriting it in your own words. Formulate a brief of your own that is succinct and easy to digest. Find the parts that fire you up and go with that. We’re looking for 2-3 key words that will drive your project forward
Step 2 – visualising the brief diagrammatically
Once you’ve filtered the brief into 2-3 key words, you want to visualise this diagrammatically.
Take out your pencil and an abundance of sketch paper and write these key words. Begin drawing what you think these key words look like. Don’t hold back. Draw anything that comes to mind and don’t throw it out. For my studio 4 project I began by layering a3 sheets. I drew all over them, drew over other drawings and scribbled all over it. When the page was full, I’d layer another sheet on top and continue. I ended up with a 100-page folio showing my concept development through sketch designs to more detailed plans and sections. This wasn’t apart of the project, but it was something extra I handed up with my project that was just something cool to look at to see my process. Unfortunately, my professor wanted to keep my project as an example for future years so I don’t have that anymore, but I encourage you to do this.
The key part of step 2 – Draw a lot and don’t throw out any of the old work.
What this step is telling us is that a concept isn’t necessarily just 1 thing or 1 drawing. It is a multitude of different ideas that ultimately form your “concept”. It is a process.
Step 3 – stay inspired
As you’re sketching your 3 key words into diagrammatic forms, keep yourself inspired. Get on google images or Pinterest and search for projects or art or other designs that follow a similar theme. How do these key ideas look architecturally? Just like keeping all my sketch drawings, I create a folder with all my inspiring projects. I keep this inspiration folder and add to it over the course of my project. Having precedents is key.
It’s great to have lots of sketches and keywords, but there comes a time where you need to start creating architecture. If you find that you’re starting to stagnate or get stuck in one place, move on. Constantly think about how you can push the process forward, there’s always opportunities to come back to what you’ve previously worked on.
Step 4 – consider the site
Neighbouring buildings, solar orientation, prevailing winds and so forth. All buildings should be designed with passive principles in mind. I always have a look in google maps and google earth. I’ll float around the site and take screenshots. I’ll look at the site slope and important features. I’ll add these to a folder and refer back to it.
Step 5 – revision
Each step of developing a successful concept should be revisited over the course of your project. They happen in order but are constantly referred back to and revised as your ideas progress. Don’t be afraid to return to step 1. Don’t be afraid to explore a new key word or a new theme for your project. In fact, your first idea is never going to be your final idea. Developing a concept is a process that happens over time through filtering, refinement. It’s a journey of experimentation.
- 15 Must Have Tools for Architecture Students: https://youtu.be/9fdUM7Ar-ZA
- The 7 DEADLIEST Mistakes Architecture Students Make: https://youtu.be/OrS7NCtrlTc
- Why Do Architecture Students Drop Out?: https://youtu.be/EGwYvcRBJCQ
- 7 Tips for Studying Architecture – The Secret Habits of Successful Architecture Students: https://youtu.be/BaIpQStsZK8
- Get access to your FREE online architecture course! 70 Hacks for Archi Students
- Check out other episodes of the Successful Archi Student’s podcast!
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