Architecture drawing is a very first expression of an idea – A graphic manifesto of what an architect envisions. The very simple act of representation of a concept in a physical dimension can make the unbuilt spaces tangibly visible.  The interpretation through Diagrams is a language that architects often use to test, communicate and sell an idea. With the advent of technology, representation technique revolutionized across the discipline of architecture – From age-old techniques of sketching to photorealistic rendering today, the toolset is varied and has enough room for us to explore and make a choice one as per our taste. Here are a few hand-picked ranges of tools for representations, architects and architecture students can explore to give that substantial dimension to a project at two different stages of design – First Impressions and Complete project.

 1. Sketching

Sketching is the age-old and most utilized toolset around the architecture community. Sketches may be as simple as a few strokes of ink or scribbles and at the same time, it may be a finesse artwork to communicate the idea to the client and generate a discussion over it. And the good news is… You don’t have to be an artist to sketch when you are in an architecture school.

Sketching can be used for brainstorming a simple idea to a more intrigued form of elegant presentation.

If you are looking for inspiration, Frank Gehry’s sketches are a pot of gold coins. Each of Projects begins with what looks like an abstract scribble to us and a sculpting idea to him. Every architect, once in a life must study Gehry’s art of bringing a sketch to life in the most poetic way.

2. Parti Diagrams

Parti diagrams are much simpler than sketches, often addressed as ‘napkin sketches’, a critical diagram of a combination of lines and textures – often a road map of an idea of a project. Unlike, a sketch, a parti diagram does not necessarily have to relate to the form or physical aspects of the buildings. It is beyond plan and sections and often a more refined version of a bubble diagram that relates to the central idea of space.

Parti diagrams help in building more layers to the projects – programmatic elements (range of spaces for the desired function), circulations (Primary roads, pedestrians access) and spatial sequence (Open, closed and semi opens spaces) that formulates a backbone of any architectural project.

Again, you don’t have to have an artistic skill to make parti diagrams. If you are an architect or a Student of architecture and are struggling with refinement at the programmatic scale, look no further, just grab that sticky note and a pencil and you’ll have a parti diagram to the rescue.

3. Collages

Collages are the new-age presentation technique that may require a software skill but are open to exploration manually by using an old magazine. A range of textures and figurines are used in an elevation or section with an added perspective or dimension to create a richer atmosphere of an experience that space shall deliver.

A more complex curation of a singular image, collages often make the first impression of the project. They can be used by architecture students at the initial design stage to explore a conceptual idea and at the same time, can be used, sum up a project into a picturesque frame.

Some of the architects, such as Fata atelier, have refined the use of collages in architecture. Fata has taken collages beyond its traditional use as a representation technique to a successful design exploration method.

4. Sectional Perspective

An increasingly popular form of representation, sectional perspective is often used by architecture students in the later stages of design. It is an excellent tool to showcase multiple dimensions – technical and imaginary perspectives in a singular diagram.

Since sectional perspectives work well to represent a finer value to the projects, it often plays a very convincing role to the client, with its balanced professional (showcasing the construction details in the section) and Qualitative aspect of space in a single frame (showcasing potential usage in the perspective)

Hand sketched Sectional perspectives of Paul Rudolph are a great source of inspiration and those interested in exploring the technical dimensions should look for Atelier Bow’s sectional perspective that is no less than an artwork full of life.

5. Serial Visions

Although initiated as an urban design activity, Serial visions become an interesting tool to represent a journey into, within and outside the building in a sequential one-point perspective sketch, from a human eye. Not limited to sketches, serial visions can be extracted from 3d modeling software’s in the form of views and then curating them in a progressive order.

Since the purpose of the serial vision is to give an idea about the overall scheme, they are often used after all the aspects of design are into place and the building sits right on the context to get a better idea.

To begin with, if you are looking for inspiration, look no further than Gorden Cullen’s concise townscape. He is the master of serial visions.

6. Exploded Axons

Exploded axons are representation that denotes a complete appreciation of all the components of a design, not just a singular facade in the elevation or section or dramatic interiors in isolation.

This type of illustration is a great source to sum up the different elements and the role of each element with one another i.e. from part to whole to whole to part, all in one diagram.

Although this tool has certain limitations – It can only be used if you have a correctly built 3d model of the project and hence, limits its use in the final presentation only.


An architect by Profession, artist by passion; Archie loves to weave stories around Nature. She is filled with curiosity - exploring ways to cure Nature deficiency through Architecture. Books and animals are her best friends. Nature is her favourite teacher and rainforests are her favourite classroom.

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