A case study is a process of researching into a project and documenting through writings, sketches, diagrams, and photos. To understand the various aspects of designing and constructing a building one must consider learning from other people’s mistakes. As Albert Einstein quoted, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, and hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 

A case study can be a starting point of any project or it can also serve as a link or reference which can help in explaining the project with ease. It is not necessary that the building we choose for our case study should be the true representation of our project. The main purpose is to research and understand the concepts that an architect has used while designing that project and how it worked, and our aim should be to learn from its perfections as well as from its mistakes too while adding our creativity.

A checklist for architectural case studies - Sheet1
Rough sketch with notes. ©pinterest.com
  • Primarily, talk to people and never stop questioning, read books, and dedicate your time to researching famous projects. Try to gather information on all famous projects because it is essential for a successful case study and easily available too. Also before starting the case study do a complete literature study on a particular subject, it gives a vague idea about the requirements of the project.
  • Study different case studies that other people have done earlier on the projects which you would choose for your own just to get a vague idea about the project, before actually diving into it.
  • Do case studies of similar projects with different requirements. For example, while doing a case study of a residential building, you should choose 3 residential buildings, one with the minimum, average, and maximum amenities. It helps in comparing between different design approaches.
  • If possible, visit the building and do a live case study, a lot of information can be gathered by looking at the building first hand and you will get a much deeper insight and meaningful understanding of the subject and will also be able to feel the emotion which the building radiates.
  • While doing the case study if you come across certain requirements that are missing but went through it while doing the literature study, they should try to implement those requirements in the design.
A checklist for architectural case studies - Sheet2
Sketches with concept flow chart. ©researchgate.net

Certain points should be kept in mind while preparing the questionnaire, they are as follows,

Style of architecture

  1. The regional context is prevalent in the design or not.
  2. Special features.

Linkage / Connectivity diagrams

  1. From all the plans gather the linkage diagram.

Site plan analysis

  1. Size of the site.
  2. Site and building ratio.
  3. The orientation of the building.
  4. Geology, soil typology, vegetation, hydrography

Construction technologies and materials

  1. Related to the project.
  2. Materials easily available in that region and mostly used.
  3. Technologies used in that region. Search for local technologies that are known among the local laborers.

Environment and micro-climate

  1. Try to document a building situated in a region that is somewhat similar to the region in which the project will be designed.
  2. Important climatic factors- sun path, rainfall, and wind direction.

Requirements and used behaviors

  1. Areas required that will suffice the efficiency of the work to be done in that space.
  2. Keeping in mind the requirements, age-group, gender, and other factors while designing.

Form and function

  1. The form is incomplete without function. To define a large space or form it is necessary to follow the function.
  2. To analyze the reason behind the formation of a certain building and how it merges with the surroundings or why it stands out and does not merge with the surroundings.
  3. Why the architect of the building adopted either of the philosophies, “form follows function” or “function follows form”.

Circulation- Horizontal and Vertical

  1. Size and area of corridor and lobbies.
  2. Placement of staircases, ramps, elevators, etc.

Structure- Column, beam, etc.

  1. Analyzing the structure detail.
  2. Types of beams, columns, and trusses used, for example, I- section beam, C- section beam.

Building services or systems

  1. Analyzing the space requirement of HVAC, fire alarm system, water supply system, etc.

Consideration of Barrier-free environment in design detailing

  1. Designing keeping the requirements of disabled people, children, pregnant women, etc. in mind.

Access and approach

  1. Entry and exit locations into the site as well as into the building.
  2. Several entries and exit points.

Doing a case study and documenting information gives you various ideas and lets you peek into the minds of various architects who used their years of experience and dedicated their time to creating such fine structures. It is also fun as you get to meet different people, do lots of traveling, and have fun. 

A checklist for architectural case studies - Sheet3
Case study sheet. ©pinterest.com

She is a budding architect hailing from the city of joy, Kolkata. With dreams in her eyes and determination in her will, she is all set to tell stories about buildings, cultures, and people through her point of view. She hopes you all enjoy her writings. Much love.


  1. Daniel Good Reply

    This is very helpful. As an architecture student, I picked the checklist here and used it for my recent project. Thank you so much!

  2. Nassour Hamad Reply

    It is very important guuideline that helps Architectural Students on how to conduct case study, but try to be deep on this part

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