Architectural design juries are the life and soul of architecture school. As a student, one tends to work on a project being aware of the final output they wish to achieve. This often leads to a fantastical architectural form with impressive elevations, often lacking the clarity of thought and a rigorous process. We are inherently aware of the importance of process to justify the final design outcome, however, such shortcut methods are rather often praised and get highlighted in the juries because of their dramatic appearance sets them apart from the rest of the student’s work.
The architecture project presentation might not be the core of the project, but it surely influences the viewer – i.e. the jurors who will not spend more than half an hour reviewing a student’s work with often no knowledge of their process through the semester. Presentations can also be considered as an indicator of your artistic skills and sense as a designer, which gives the reviewer an impression at first glance.
With the commencement of digital media, architecture and design education, as well as practices, have seen a big change in presentation methods, with digital media allowing a plethora of methods to work on achieving graphically and aesthetically pleasing, or rather extraordinary presentation sheets. Whether it be clients or jurors, this age of digital media has given rise to huge competition and expectation in terms of graphically remarkable sheets and presentations, therefore often reducing the hype to be more about the presentation performance than the design quality itself.
In a way it’s like a sales pitch- you are selling your design, ideas, concepts, and solutions. Your presentation of drawings can assist a client’s imagination, or help win a commission, they should clearly communicate the three-dimensional elements and experience of your design. The drawings, graphics and presentation boards have one main purpose – to communicate your design, and if your presentation looks good, but doesn’t do its job – you may be successful for some clients but may lack in effectively communicating what you have to offer as a designer.
However, how much of impressive flair is enough to communicate the idea and when does it become redundant?
We know text-heavy slides look bad, and deep down we probably all know that presentations like that are doing more harm than good to our sales prospects. But it’s difficult to put your finger on what is bad about the presentation design or to know how to make the design more effective.
A good presentation, in most cases, is as simplistic and minimal as possible. Less but better, because it concentrates on the essential aspects and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.
We often come across presentation sheets like such, where at first glance, one is highly impressed by the stunning and aesthetically pleasing 3d renders, which more often than not, actually convey nothing. It is important to know what you wish to convey with your sheet, how to smoothly communicate the design strategies and choices, with the use of our standard tools – plans and sections. Not only do plans and sections convey the scale of design with respect to a human scale, but it also helps to give an idea of the individual space-making elements.
This can then be supported by 3d renders of the various space qualities that have been tried to achieve, rather than an overly zoomed out or weirdly angled dramatic scene that conveys almost nothing to the viewer.
It is also more appreciable to show the correct color scheme, lighting, materials and textures to truly talk about the design and the real experience of a visitor in your space than a cinematically heightened presentation that gives the wrong impression of reality.
Less is more. This kind of presentation technique that does not fear white spaces rather uses it to place the drawings and scenes meticulously is what gives the viewer an easy and less intimidating method to read the sheet. Using just two tones and a grid system can create hierarchy and order to your sheet.
The use of diagrams/illustrations, sectional perspectives, and clear plans along with renders to support the visualization of space, provides an overall effective visual communication.
Dramatic yet effective. Certain projects might demand a certain emotion from the first glance of the viewer to quickly realize the standpoint and experience desired. It is understandable to have intentional elements such as dark colors, high contrast, loud background, etc. to communicate highly evocative and dramatic projects such as Jewish Museum by Daniel Libeskind, where the project itself demands a certain desired emotion by the designer. In such cases, graphically loud and perhaps little abstract drawings can actually help in bringing out the project’s inherently different vibe.
When creating presentations it can be easy to go a little overboard. We often feel the need to cram in as much information as possible, creating slides with barely any blank space left bombarded with long texts, images, and drawings. While all three of these visual tools are important, it is crucial we use them sparingly and in the right manner to invite the viewer in.
To conclude, it is fair to say that unless the project itself is dramatic and demands to shout a certain emotion to the viewer, it is advisable to stick to the idea of Less Is More – to communicate the design effectively, sticking to the point and highlighting the elements of design, plans, and 3d-experience should be more appreciated than loud trendy presentations showing off the less essential aspect (graphical skills) of your role as a designer.