A concept in architecture is an idea, intention, or inspiration that establishes the foundation of a design project. When there are questions to be answered or decisions to be made, a strong concept provides a methodology for the thinking process. During the life of an architecture student, concept submission has numerous implications for different individuals. It is the intent of a project and the path we choose to take. The students work on various projects, yet the essence of a concept remains the same.
Here’s a list of 8 such varieties of concepts seen during an architectural studio.

1. Calling styles/fields of architecture as the concept | Architectural Studios

A concept has to lead to the solution for any design problem. It is not just about mentioning big words but knowing which process to use for the design. We can’t call broad fields or styles of architecture as the concept. Yet in the design studio, there will always be students who say things like, “Brutal Architecture”, “Sustainability”, “Vernacular architecture” is the concept for their design rather than stating that they intend on using specific techniques of architectural styles/fields in their project. The methods used by these terms become the intention of the project. These notions solely are comprehensive and not provide a solution as is.  

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2. All ideas in one

There are many ways to solve a design problem, and there will always be a type of concept submission that will compile a list of all the things you can find in the top ‘Google’ or ‘Pinterest’ searches. This kind of submission becomes a crux of the work of all the students. If the students are feeling ‘creative’, they also refer to architecture websites or magazines and narrow down the best solutions to use for their design. It is quite funny that usually, the final submission ends up having very few or none of these concepts at all.

3. The narrative concept

Architecture always narrates a story about the nature of the design project, its site or history, culture. This type of concept uses the art of storytelling and poetry to understand the project on a deeper level. From simple metaphors to complex novels, Narratives evolve from an introspective exploration of the needs of clients and the project to create an experience. It paints a picture of the design with words that later get translated into architecture.

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4. The copy c(AT)oncept | Architectural Studios

Well, It gets interesting now. We know that sometimes, there can be only one way to approach a design problem and come up with an imaginative solution. We have realized that a concept is to define the intention of the project. However, the lack of originality and the repetition of the same submission can make the jury think of it as ‘copied’. Does any such thing even exist?

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5. Thinking of one right before the jury 

Not every student in the architectural studio can instantly think of concepts for a project. Creative minds take time for ideas to form and putting a deadline on this builds pressure for the students. This continuous conflict only brings in procrastination, but the dread of the jury produces excellent and imaginative results at the last hour. The only obstacle is that brainstorming right before the jury is dangerous yet seldom unavoidable.

6. Everything apart from an actual concept

As already stated, Some students face difficulty when they have to think creatively or out of the box. They have a misconception that a design problem does not need to reveal the intent of the project but needs to begin with designing. They find it easier to start with the planning process first. It is not an ideal way to proceed but the only way some minds work. They go so far in producing drawings at the concept level that they are almost ready with the final submission. However, the concept is still missing.

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7. Using the same notion in every project

There are concepts that work well for a particular type of design problem. It is such a widespread idea that some students have a misconception that it would work well for every project. It is no surprise how disastrous it proves to be. With various sites, contexts, availability of materials, and construction facility, diverse projects require a suitable approach to deal with it. What works well for a particular problem may not solve the purpose of another.

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8. The clueless concept | Architectural Studios

A complex problem requires a simple concept to have clarity in the entire process. The students need to have a properly laid out thought process for the project and further to be able to envision a probable outcome. What does a student do when the simple idea does not work out? You come up with a vague solution which neither you nor the jury understands. You end up being clueless like the concept itself.

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In concept submissions during architectural studios, you have all the liberty to think limitlessly. The practicalities or realities of concepts have no confined walls whatsoever. So why should the minds of students do? 


Yachika Sharma is an architect who recently graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture. She has a profound passion for architecture, poetry, art and travelling. She believes that it is crucial to go on to an adventure to fathom a city and unravel the little subtleties of city life.