Architecture Portfolio for University Applications

Architecture Portfolio for University Applications

 

Introduction

 

An architecture portfolio for university applications gives you the opportunity to showcase your unique identity and creative skills to the admissions officers or interviewers at your chosen universities.

You will have to produce many architecture portfolios at different stages in your architecture career. Therefore, it is quite common to be asked to come up with one when applying to study architecture at university.

Architecture application portfolios can come in various shapes, sizes, and formats. What you end up producing will be heavily impacted by the universities you apply to and their portfolio requirements.

Some universities may give you a definitive list on what to include whilst others may ask you to produce something entirely on your own.

It can seem like a mammoth task creating a portfolio from scratch if you have no prior experience. So, in this post we provide some helpful ideas and guidelines to get you started with making an impressive architecture portfolio!

 

Scroll to the end to download this article as a handy PDF guide!

University Requirements

University Requirements

Different architecture schools will have different teaching methods, course structures and portfolio requirements. If you are in the early stages of deciding which architecture university to apply to and need advice, be sure to read our post on choosing the best architecture school:

How to choose the best architecture school? – First In Architecture

Your architecture application portfolio helps the universities you apply to get an understanding of your skills, interests and whether you would be the right fit for that particular learning environment.

Some universities may clearly outline what they expect of you in your architecture application portfolio. They could even have a dedicated page providing portfolio guidance and advice on their website. Here are a few examples for you to have a look through:

University of the Arts London
Portfolio advice | UAL (arts.ac.uk)
Falmouth University
Portfolio Advice | Falmouth University
University for the Creative Arts
Portfolio Advice | University for the Creative Arts (uca.ac.uk)
University of Reading
The application process for undergraduates – School of Architecture (reading.ac.uk)
University of Plymouth
Applicant portfolio advice – University of Plymouth
Oxford Brookes University
Portfolio guidance for Architecture applicants – Oxford Brookes University

Other universities might email you details on what to include in your architecture application portfolio for that particular year, as their portfolio requirements may change annually. Therefore, be sure to check your email inbox and spam folder.

It is also possible that some universities may leave it entirely up to you to put together a portfolio, in order to see what you come up with.

There might even be extra tasks that some universities ask you to complete, in order to assess if you have the relevant skills to be enrolled onto their architecture course.

As you will most likely be applying to more than one architecture school, you may come across any number of the scenarios mentioned above. Therefore, to meet the portfolio requirements for each university, you may have to approach each portfolio you submit differently.

Gathering information for your Architecture Portfolio

Gathering information for your Architecture Portfolio

To put together any impressive architecture portfolio for university applications, you will have to conduct some research. Allow yourself plenty of time to do this. The last thing you want is to rush making your architecture portfolio.

Try to find successful examples submitted by applicants from previous years for some inspiration. These will give you an idea of what level of skill is needed to be accepted onto the course.

Another good suggestion is to attend the university’s graduate showcases and seek out any current students for some advice on how they created their portfolio and what they think helped in their case.

You could also take this opportunity to ask a faculty member about what they look for in an ideal candidate’s application portfolio.

Collect all this information for each of your university choices and organise it into separate folders for easy reference.

Most architecture schools will typically ask you to prepare an architecture application portfolio before or for the interview stage. So, make sure you keep track of all the portfolio submission deadlines and interview dates for your chosen universities as well.

What to include in your Architecture  Application Portfolio?

What to include in your Architecture Portfolio

Now that you have researched a bit you will have some idea of what the university you are applying to is expecting of you. You can now start to think of what to include in your portfolio.

Of course, in some cases you may already have what to include, predetermined as per your university’s requirements. But if you do not have this information provided, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Questions to reflect on as you begin this process could be:

  • What are my interests and passions? What is the best way I can present these?
  • What excites me about architecture?
  • How do I view architecture? Why do I wish to pursue it?
  • What inspires me the most?
  • What type of work represents my creativity and imagination the best?
  • How can I emphasise my strengths and show that I am working to improve my weaknesses?

In addition to this, we have put together a list of thoughts to help you get a better idea on what to include in your architecture application portfolio.

Now remember! These are suggestions, and it is entirely up to you to choose what to include in your portfolio. So, feel free to adapt accordingly.

Key information
This would be your name, any assigned applicant ID or number and other relevant information.

Academic work
You can include work that you have created for the subjects you currently take.

If you do any coursework-based subjects, like Art and Design, Photography, Design and Technology, etc. you will already have some work to choose from. Select pieces that stand out to you, ones you are most proud of.

With the coursework-based subjects, you will also be familiar with documenting the process that takes you from an idea to the final product. Include examples that display this process, with some creative storytelling. This type of development style work can really help the interviewers get an insight into your design thinking.

If you do not take any coursework-based subjects, you can always highlight other skills you are developing through your current subjects. For instance, analytical, problem solving, communication and writing skills.

However, as you will almost certainly be required to communicate your ideas through the means of drawing in university, do be prepared to practise some drawing skills. Doing this will show that you have the potential to develop them further.

Independent work
You can also include relevant personal projects that you may have done while pursuing your interests.

It could be something as simple as practising some drawing skills in your free time. You could easily document your progress in your portfolio. This will show your university of choice that you are willing to take the initiative to diversify your skills.

Various media
Aim to exhibit a broad range of skills through your architecture application portfolio. You can do this by including work made using different media, styles, and techniques.

You could display work made using materials like pencil, biro, ink, paint, digital art and more. If your strengths lie in sketching maybe challenge yourself to work more with paint.

Think of including different drawing styles and techniques like sketches, collages, prints, mixed media, observational drawings with a variety of subjects etc.

Also add in pieces that show you can think three dimensionally and can understand proportions. For example, any pottery, furniture design or sculptural work.

Show that you have an understanding of some of the basic elements of art like line, shape, form, space, colour, texture, and composition, through the work you add to your architecture application portfolio.

Evaluate the work you already have and fill in the gaps with newer pieces of work that have different approaches. The goal is to showcase what you are good at while highlighting the fact that you are willing to expand your skills.

Development work
You could also decide to have a few images that show the development process behind the pieces that you include in your architecture application portfolio. Think of some cool ways to demonstrate how you experimented with and refined your work.

It may include rough sketch like drawings, the research you conducted for it, any inspiring precedents and how they influenced your work etc.

All of these can be really useful visual aids when going through your work with your interviewer.

Work in progress pieces can also be an option to demonstrate the initial stages of your creative process and problem-solving.

Architectural drawings
The work you include does not have to be architecture related. Some universities may even advise against having drawings of buildings.

But if you are not restricted from doing so, it could be a great chance to show your enthusiasm.

Architects often make use of perspective drawings to present their designs. Thus, these can be great to practise. You could perhaps add a few of your initial attempts to depict your understanding of depth.

Even some initial experimentations with 3D modelling software can be considered.

Professional work
If you had the opportunity to get some architectural work experience, you could perhaps include some of the work you produced.

Also consider including professional work that you may have done for other creative fields such as photography, fashion design etc.

Do make sure to ask for permission from your employers before including this type of work.

Other experiences
You can also think of including any voluntary work relating to art and architecture.

Any creative workshops or exhibitions you participated in to hone your skills. Think of what you learnt and what really stuck with you from these events.

Organise

Organise

Once you have a good amount of work, be selective of what you choose to put into your architecture application portfolio. Include pieces that mean something to you, reflect your interests and hold good conversational value for your interviews.

Remember that your architecture portfolio for university applications needs to be able to give the universities you are applying to an insight into your personality and creative thinking.

It needs to be reflective of who you are and underscore your interest in architecture. It is essentially evidence to support your reasoning to study architecture – an extension to your personal statement, if you will.

It is your chance to share your experience and unique perspectives. So, make it an enjoyable and memorable experience for both you and the person going through your portfolio.

With each piece of work you include, make sure you are able to talk through your ideas, thought process before, during and after making that particular piece. Tell a really good story.

Plan your architecture portfolio with a clear beginning, middle and end. You could interpret that as having three punchy pieces that support your story as well as show off your skills and interests. Perhaps start off with a captivating piece, then have a reinforcing one in the middle and end strong with another impressive piece.

You could also view your architecture application portfolio as an illustrated timeline depicting the progression of your interest in architecture. Going from simple to complex drawings that show your development.

The way you choose to plan and organise your work will ultimately be in your hands.

Format

Format

As mentioned previously, some universities will provide you with all the necessary instructions on what to include and how to format your portfolio.

In the event that they do not, you have the opportunity to exercise your creative freedom and pick a format that would best showcase your work.

Typically, a digital portfolio would be an ideal choice as you can easily edit and customise it to send to your various university options. You could also consider printing it in a cool way.

If you know your interview will be held in person, you may decide to take a physical portfolio with work in varying scales.

Or if you have to send a digital portfolio prior to your interview, it may help if you carry a few wow factor pieces from your digital portfolio to impress your interviewer.

To help you out we have put together some general guidelines to follow when formatting a digital PDF portfolio:

File name
Make sure you name your files appropriately.

Orientation and Size
Choose an orientation that will best suit your work. An A4, or A3 size should suffice.
Try to keep the file size small (5MB or under) as you do not want the admissions officers to have trouble opening your portfolio.

Structure and Layout
Include a cover page, table of contents and page numbers for easy navigation.
Keep a consistent and minimal layout. Avoid distracting designs. Make use of the negative space. Let your work be the star of the show.

Text and Fonts
Have minimal text in the form of captions and brief details of the work. Use only one or two fonts throughout your portfolio. If you want some examples of which fonts and font combinations to use, scroll through our Best fonts for Architects post here:

Best Fonts for Architects – First In Architecture

Image Quality
Make sure you have clear images with reasonable resolutions. If you are scanning your work, make sure they are not blurry. And ensure there is good lighting if you are photographing your work.

Review

Review

Once you have organised and formatted your architecture portfolio for university applications, take the time to review it for improvements.

Include quality pieces in your portfolio and avoid repeating similar types of work.

Keep in mind that your interviewers will be seeing numerous other portfolios as well, so be sure to get to the point. Only include work that authentically represents you and your creativity.

Ask someone to look through your architecture application portfolio and give you some feedback. Practice presenting it to them to build your confidence. You can use a printed copy to help you out.

Highlight at least one skill per piece of work. Make sure you have enough information to share about each piece and be prepared to answer questions like – What inspired you to do this piece, what you learnt through the process of making it etc.

Doing all this will help you improve the quality of your architecture portfolio as well as your presentation skills.

Examples

We have put together a Pinterest board with ideas on the sort of work you can include in your architecture portfolio for university applications:

Also check out this Pinterest board for some general inspiration:

 

To help you out, we have also found a few video examples of successful architecture application portfolios:

KelvinDoesArchitecture
Glory Kuk
Raya Kee
Aakash Shah
Callum Henderson
Bujo with zozo

You might also be interested in:

 

We have loads of other incredible architecture portfolio content. Be sure to check it out:

Architecture Portfolio for interview
Architecture Portfolio a complete guide

Download the Guide!

Download this helpful article as a pdf to keep for reference later.

Conclusion

 

We hope this post helps you produce a super impressive architecture portfolio for your university applications. All the best!

Thank you for reading! 🙂

 

 

Your Comments

 

Do you have any standout tips for creating an architecture application portfolio for university? Do let us know in the comments below.

Also, feel free to share this post with a friend.

Thank you!

 

Author

Written by Valanne Fernandes, a Part 1 Architecture graduate. Valanne is a content creator with First In Architecture, spending her time researching, writing and designing inspiring new content for the website.

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