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Some strategies to design architecture


Be confident drawing basic geometric shapes. Draw your ideas in 2 minutes.

geometric draw.gif

All architecture drawings are combinations of lines, circles, squares, rectangles and other geometric shapes.

Use this quick drawing technique. 

  • Fold an A4 sheet of paper into 4.

  • Do 2 minute doodles of sketches of your ideas.

  • Do 2 minute drawings of plans, elevations, sections & perspectives to formalise your ideas.

This '2 minute quick draw your ideas' video shows drawings for the 1 hour Pod Design Project

Check out more drawing examples on the Draw page.


Design for the needs of people.

Consider the place of the project, will your design compliment its environment?  
Design spaces that improve life experiences. 


Who are you designing for, what are their needs? 
What is the project about? 
What are the opportunities you need to consider? 
A project brief defines clear expectations including timelines, key milestones & resources to complete the project 


What are the main keywords of the project?
Project keywords can inspire creative thinking to explore design ideas.
Visualise keywords with drawings to start the process of designing the project.


How to think like an Architect - video by Architect Barry Berkus.

Architect Barry Berkus explains the 'how + why' of designing a house.

DESIGN BRIEF: Enjoy the view, beach & ocean views, bring extended family home, a place that's private for them also.

DRAWING: "As you sketch you draw a diagram, the diagram becomes architecture" + "Design with bubble diagrams"

DESIGNING: "It is an exercise in thinking with the hand & the mind- it all begins with a pattern diagram" + "The idea of where things are & how they inter-relate, the adjacencies of rooms & opportunities of the sun & views of the site"   
SUN: Morning sun from the east, afternoon sun from the west. "Always think of the kitchen enjoying East light, sun is a wonderful thing to gain in the morning & afternoon warmth of the sun in the living room

WIND: Internal courtyards protect from the wind, shelter people around a fireplace. Internal courtyard design dates back to Roman era.

SUMMARY: "The greatest reward an architect can have is a happy client, a great building and place they can go back and visit because of the meaning of what they design and the strength of the architecture


What are the cultural references that relate to your project?

Learn 'bicultural design' principles. Read about bicultural design at Jasmax and Architectus.

This example is how Maori culture inspired the Auckland City Rail Link's award winning design


What are the images that relate to your project?
Create an inspiration board with all the images that visually describe your project ideas
Sometimes referred to as design boards or mood boards

This image relates to SnakeTower project.

design board 1.jpg

Contextualism is an architectural theory of design that relates to being inspired by the literal and abstract characteristics of the environment of a project. 

For example; when I was designing SnakeTower located in a wildlife sanctuary in Africa, one of the site contexts I was inspired by was the gradient patterns of the local elephants. By using a closeup photo of an elephants head, reflection duplicated and focusing on the trunk detail I was able to draw a pattern detail to use in the project design that relates to the site context.    


What design era's inspires you? 

Learn about historical and contemporary architecture to inform your appreciation of design.

Check out a collection of contemporary world architecture from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023.

Here is a brief visual history of New Zealand architecture.


'Iterative' means doing something again and again, usually to improve it.

Show iterative improvement of your project throughout the design process and test your ideas by constantly getting feedback from others to improve the design of the project.

More information about iterative design.

This example shows iterative technology design of the wheel, from stone to wood to rubber to 3D printed to airless tyres.


Visualise your design ideas in 3 dimensions.

Use 3D modelling software to visualise your project ideas and drawings in 3D.
There are lots of basic 3D modelling software's like TinkercadSculptGLMinecraft

Many architectural practices use SketchUp so I recommend you get very good at using it.

You can use basic SketchUp for free online in-browser or download it to your computer which offers more features.


HOT TIP, set the project settings to metric before you start to model. The default is feet/inches, you will have to restart modelling if you don't do this at the start and realise after hours of modelling you are in feet/inches!  

Architects use Rhino 3D to model their designs, it lets you model complex parametric shapes


Major international architectural firms like ZHA use Maya to 3D model their designs

This image is by one of my students who used SketchUp to 3D model his project. 


The 4 stages of the architecture design process. 


"Form follows function", a quote by architect Mies van der Rohe.

This example of Form + Function is the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angles, designed by Frank Gehry in 2003.


How do you think the form of the building relates to its function? 


The architectural design process based on Blooms Taxonomy Theory pyramid


Knowledge: observe the art and science of architecture, understand major ideas, master the subject matter 

Understand: describe and explain architecture using drawings, translate knowledge into new context, predict consequences 

Apply: use information, methods, concepts and theories in new situations, solve problems using skill and knowledge 

Analyse: show relationships, predict and draw conclusions 

Evaluate: compare and discriminate between ideas, assess value of theories, make choices based on reasoned argument, recognise subjectivity


Create: evolve the design process using the experiences learnt from the first stage of knowledge 

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