In architecture, representation is one of the biggest forms of Expression. A successful representation displays a perfect way of communication of a particular concept and technical specifications. In this creative field, there has been numerous way of communicating or expressing the ideas which have evolved over a span of time. The representation of an idea plays a vital role in convincing the audience for a future proposal of a built form. It also presents the possibilities of what a built form would look like. This essay elaborates on different forms and types of representation techniques that become the medium of communication between the creator and the audience.

“Design is intermediary between Information and Understanding” -Hans Hofmann

The change in culture influences the mode of representation in various fields like fashion, graphics, advertising, etc. which also anchors the style of representation in architecture as well. The representation in architecture is a practical interpretation of a future to-be-built space for the viewer and therefore, it is very important to create an imaginary visualization that convinces the viewer with the prospects of the proposal. This can be implemented with various techniques like Sketch, Orthographic projection, Image presentation, Modelling, and Layout presentation. If the process is looked at, the initial level consists of a sketch that is translated from a basic idea which is then developed into a workable design with the help of a detailed set of scale drawings.

©Alex Hogrefe

1. Sketch

Conceptual sketch expresses the core of a complex idea which simplifies the multiple aspects. A sketch can be conceptual, analytical, and observational. Sketches can be done at any stage of a design process. An informal sketch can portray various elements of design all in one place along with that it also narrates the journey of a design by providing further guidance. A sketch can be an abstract, perspective view, or even a bubble diagram expressing the core idea of the project. A various medium can be used to define a sketch-like pen and ink, lines and curves, monochrome, etc.

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Interiors of Konstantin Melnikov Museum in Moscow (Sketches), 2015, Ink and marker©Pinterest
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Antoine Grumbach. Arquitectura (Madrid). 214 Sep 1978: 14 ©Pinterest

2. Orthographic Projection

According to the theories, Orthographic projection refers to a system of interrelated two-dimensional views of a building. This consists of a horizontal sectionally cut view (Plan), Veritcally cut views (Section and Elevation). This can be termed as the phase after the development of a conceptual level in which a full set of drawings is prepared. These to-the-scale drawings represent various aspects of architectural design such as material, dimensions, directions, openings, etc.  To further categorize them, orthographic drawings can be classified as presentation drawings, working drawings, feasibility study drawings, etc which help execute the built form at different stages.

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Michelangelo LaTona, A Monument in Two Dimensions, 2015, Graphite, Ink, Paper, Mylar, Collage, Spray Paint, 18″x12 ©Pinterest
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Speculation’ Alexander Wiegering 2013. Mixed Media ©Pinterest

3. Image Presentation

Two-dimensional drawings are a convenient tool of representation for creative professionals whereas in the case of common audience images are self-explanatory. Images provide room for interpretation which generates imagination and visualization. Images as a tool add a dimension to the two-dimensional representation and thus making it three dimensional and accessible. Perspective images, Axonometric images, Photomontages, Sectional perspective, Exploded views, etc. are various types of images that help represent an idea conveniently.

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EsbenMerlach ©Pinterest
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Karoline Jacobsen Sørum, Tecto-Stereotomic interventions in Karaköy ©Pinterest

4. Modelling

A model is the most powerful tool for an architect to explore and develop the design as it gives a hands-on experience to deal with scales and proportions. This also helps to develop a design swiftly by working on the aspects of form, material, scale etc. simultaneously. A physical model allows an idea to be explored in greater depth by experimenting with various elements and surrounding context. A step further, a virtual model not only develops a design with context but it also allows the creator to explore every corner of the model and thus making it possible to explore minute details like material, lighting, and finishes.

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3D Render model ©
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Project – Janmar Residence (Under Construction) Model built by Danielle Anderson, Amy Miller, and Erin Hackler ©Pinterest

5. Layout Presentation

Layout presentation also known as Storyboard presentation is all about the visual narration of the design development journey. There should be an equal balance of two dimensional and three-dimensional representation of the project which not only attracts the viewer but also makes the presentation self-explanatory. Portfolios are the best example of a layout presentation because it represents the ability of the creator along with presenting the entire set of work in one go. The selection of the orientation of the background plays a crucial role i.e. Landscape or Portrait. The background should be selected according to the style of content that is to be displayed.

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Horia Creanga by Surduleasa Alina ©Pinterest
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Drawings for a place of Reflection by Joshua L Jones ©Pinterest

Lorraine Farrelly says that,

“Successful representation of an architectural scheme or concept presents a challenge. To be a success, the form of representation needs to communicate the scheme’s creative concept and its technical specifications.”

Book Suggestion

Basics Architecture 01: Representational Techniques by Lorraine Farrelly


Farrelly, L. (2007). Basics Architecture 01: Representational Techniques. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Laseau, P. (2000). Architectural representation handbook: traditional and digital techniques for graphic communication. McGraw-Hill.


Jhanavi is an architecture graduate from Nirma University in 2019 with the best awarded Research Thesis on Architectural Response to Waterfronts. Jhanavi is an Associate Architect at JCE, Ahmedabad and also recipient of research grant for the research of “Women in Architecture” from EDRC. She is a keen observer, who loves to translate the minute details into words.