A portfolio is an organized collection of your best work which showcases your skills, capabilities and accomplishments, especially in a creative field such as architecture where it becomes a requirement  and has to be well designed to be able to achieve its purposes. Here we provide you with some tips to follow in order to design a good architecture portfolio.

10 Tips to follow for designing good Architecture Portfolios - Sheet1
© Courtesy of MOHAMMED ALGHARABLI.

 1. Take the time to design the cover page. The cover page of your portfolio is the first thing that potential employers, clients or tutors will look at. As the saying goes: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”, your portfolio’s cover page will define that first impression and has to be thought of very wisely. Be creative and try to show some personality in a powerful but elegant way that can also provide the reviewers with information about the contents and what to expect. If necessary use elements or graphics from your works or even photographs. Give your portfolio an informative name like “Tom Cruise Design Portfolio” or “Marlon Brando Architecture Portfolio”., you can also include the date range of the work. Don’t forget your contact information including your e-mail address and phone number at the back page.

10 Tips to follow for designing good Architecture Portfolios - Sheet2
© Courtesy of PHILIP GOOLKASIAN

2. Start with an appealing resume page This is a very essential part of your portfolio as it is where you communicate the important information about your education and work experience, so be sure to make it clear and easy to understand. It is also important to include other experiences such as workshops or publications, as well as software skills and foreign languages that you can speak. You can also include your personal interests if you judge that it can add some value to your profile, so if you’re interested in photography, painting or writing don’t hesitate to mention that.  

3. Use a graphic charter Creating a graphic charter for your portfolio is the best way to guarantee a good visual communication with the reviewers. It facilitates the way the readers navigates through the pages and make it a more fluent and less boring experience. Try to set your mind from the beginning on a coherent graphic charter to use in the whole portfolio. Define a color palette that relates well to your work and stick to one or two text fonts rather than using multiple and different types. This will create some homogeneity between the different pages of the portfolio. Also keep in mind that the layout logic you use is also part of the graphic charter and should be applied for the whole portfolio.

4. Be selective about what you include.

Don’t just grab every element and don’t try to force every single sketch and drawing just to show the amount of time and effort you invested in each project. Take the time to select the best elements that can communicate the ideas behind the project and that emphasize what you want the reviewers focus on. It is not necessary to include all the plans, sections and renderings, sometimes only one picture of a model or one diagram with minimum descriptions can be enough.

5. Go for variety.

Don’t include only one category of architecture projects in your portfolio such as only residential or landscape. It is good to focus on a specific type depending on the firm that you’re applying for and what they’re interested in but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the rest. It is preferable to provide a variety of different projects in order to highlight your skills and capabilities on different scales.

6. Quality over Quantity Presenting every single work you have ever done, from your first year in architecture school until the present, is something you should really avoid, as it makes your portfolio very long and boring to read and also shows your lack of self-evaluation. An ideal portfolio will contain up to 6 or 8 of the projects that you believe can reflect the best of your working skills. So be sure to take the time to pick up the works with the best quality.

7. Showcase the design process. Showing the design process of a project in your portfolio is as important as the renders and final drawings. It’s interesting for potential employers to see your creative process and to better understand your design approach. You can include diagrams that explains the evolution of the design or even the first sketches that you made at the very beginning.

10 Tips to follow for designing good Architecture Portfolios - Sheet3
© Courtesy of BJARKE INGELS GROUP (BIG).

8. Group projects are as important as your personal work. Even though a portfolio is a presentation of one’s personal work and personal achievements, still, it’s necessary to include at least one group project in your portfolio to show that you can also work in teams. Being able to communicate well with team members and having team spirit are much appreciated skills in the professional field especially when applying for big firms. While showing a group project in your portfolio, try to highlight the parts that you completed while giving credit to the rest of the team members.

9. Include additional works other than architecture projects. As we mentioned in N°2, your personal interests can find their way to your portfolio too. It doesn’t have to be limited only to architecture projects. Any other type projects and additional works  that you did such as art pieces, photography or any other type of creative products can add value to your portfolio and make it more appealing and unique at the same time. Some employers may be interested in seeing what else you can add to their practice other than your architectural related skills. So be sure to impress them!

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© Courtesy of WADDAH DRIDI.

10. Review, Adapt and Update It is very important to keep your portfolio alive! Review your work and update frequently. Add any new projects that you think deserve to be showcased and remove anything that’s looking outdated. Also it is recommended to adapt your portfolio according to the people you’re trying to reach, whether it’s an architecture school or a job at some architectural firm that you’re applying for, having two or three different versions of your portfolio can be very useful.    

Waddah Dridi
Author

Waddah Dridi is a Tunisian architecture student in the National School of Architecture & Urbanism of Tunis (ENAU). Driven by curiosity and passionate about the multitude of scales in architecture, his approach is to freely experiment with the design possibilities in order to figure the perfect correlation involving all the parameters.

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