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7 design tips from architects for compiling your Part 1 portfolio

Published on: 3 Mar 2020

Úna Breathnach HIfearnáin, Senior Urban Designer at McGregor Coxall, and Angela Dapper, Principal at Grimshaw, share their design tips for compiling your Part 1 portfolio.

1. Include a timeline: of key experience at the beginning of your portfolio. This should echo the timeline of your CV and double up as a contents page.

2. Create a factsheet: at the beginning of each new project sheet in your portfolio. This factsheet should include key information on the project, such as: location, client, budget, RIBA stages and your role on the project (very important). This can help to inform your employer of the breadth of your knowledge across stages.

3. Graphically indicate degree of competency for different skills: it is important to show how much exposure you have had to different programs, ability to draw/ make models and also languages.  Many students express this graphically, in dials, bar charts or beginner/ intermediate and advanced gradings, which is really helpful for the recruiting architect. 

4. Visual style: Architects are design professionals, so use a simple, elegant graphical style to communicate clearly and concisely.

5. Tell a story: Think of your portfolio as a challenge in graphic legibility and storytelling. Tell a brief story of the essence of each project and support this with compelling imagery, which connects with your passions and the value and design profile of the practice that you are applying to.

6. Feature a well-known building in your own hand: Consider including a drawing of your own of a favourite house by a notable architect. As an immediately recognisable building, this image will spark interest.

7. How to close your portfolio: If you have extracurricular interests that relate to architecture – such as life drawing, freehand sketching, model-making, photography, woodwork and pottery – finish your portfolio with them. These show you as well rounded and can add another dimension to your interview, igniting discussion with your future employer.

portfolio tips from architects

Image: Angela Dapper, Principal at Grimshaw with a young Architect on her team, Loreto Mazariegos