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Tips for Creating an Architecture Portfolio

A portfolio is an essential component for anyone involved in the creative industry, especially in architecture. It serves as a tool to narrate who we are and showcase the work we have accomplished. Its dual purpose lies in job applications and attracting potential clients. Through a portfolio, companies or prospective clients can evaluate the abilities and design character of an architect, determining whether they align with their needs.

Given the significance of having a portfolio, here are specific tips on how to create an engaging architecture portfolio.

Define the Portfolio's Purpose

Will the portfolio be used for job applications or to attract potential clients? The content of these two types of portfolios will differ. If creating a portfolio for job applications, tailor it to the targeted company and position. The portfolio of a Junior Architect will naturally differ from that of a 3D Artist. If the goal is to attract clients, showcase examples of past projects handled and completed. Built projects are powerful marketing tools.

Menyusun Portofolio Arsitektur
My architecture portfolio. Image by Adityuwana

Determine the Portfolio Format

Is the portfolio print or digital? A print portfolio can take the form of a book or printed sheets inserted into an organizer file. A digital portfolio can be in PDF format, utilizing third-party applications, web-hosted, or self-hosted websites. Personally, I recommend creating a digital portfolio over a print one because:

  • It's easier to update. A good portfolio should consistently be updated with new projects, and this is more easily done in a digital format.

  • More media options. Digital portfolios allow the inclusion of audio or video, which is impossible in a print portfolio.

  • Diverse platform choices. A digital portfolio can be a PDF, an app-based platform like Morpholio or Houzz, web-hosted platforms like Behance and Issu, or a self-hosted website using your own domain and hosting with web development platforms like Wix or Squarespace. My suggestion is to have both a PDF portfolio with a file size of no more than 15 MB and a self-hosted website. PDFs are easy to download, work on almost any device, and don't require internet access. Especially for professionals, a self-hosted website with your own domain looks more professional and convincing to potential clients. If you're a student or recent graduate, a PDF portfolio is sufficient.

Menyusun Portofolio Arsitektur
My personal website is intended for showcasing my portfolio. Image by Adityuwana

Portfolio Content

Portfolios usually consist of two types of content: profile and project.

Profile Content: Create a brief resume about yourself, including your educational background, work experience (if any), and competencies. For work experience, list relevant experience in the architecture profession. Another crucial point, especially for job applications, is skills. What standout skills do you possess related to architecture? These could include sketching, operating design software like Photoshop or Corel Draw, using CAD software, or creating architectural visualizations. You can also include writing skills. If you have these skills, don't hesitate to list them in the profile content.

Project Content: Showcase the work or projects you have handled. Here's how to present project content effectively in a portfolio.

Menyusun Portofolio Arsitektur
Prepare a portfolio that is mobile-friendly. Image by Adityuwana
  • Limit the number of projects. You may have worked on dozens of projects, but it's best to include only the best ones, ideally between 8 and 10. If fewer, that's okay. It's better to showcase 5 outstanding projects than 15 average ones. Ensure that the best-of-the-best projects are featured on the first pages.

  • Use concise and clear narration. Briefly narrate the basic concept of a project, its challenges, and how they were resolved. People won't spend more than 1 minute looking at a single work. Trust that individuals won't read too much information.

  • Organize the layout effectively. Avoid overcrowding with too many images. Use no more than 2 colors as the background. Learn about whitespace concepts and color palettes. Look at other architects' portfolios that influence you. A PDF portfolio can showcase your graphic design skills to readers. Web-based portfolios are easier as they use available templates.

  • Curate photos or images. You don't need to include every image from each project; curate wisely. To attract potential clients, use photos of built projects. Built projects are a powerful tool to demonstrate your ability to handle projects from start to finish. If necessary, enlist the services of a professional photographer. The type of image also indicates competence. Hand sketches show conceptual and design abilities. Computer rendering images showcase visualization skills. If you're a recent graduate and haven't handled a project, include your final project or work done during your studies.

  • Update regularly. The advantage of a digital portfolio is its ease of regular updates. Simply replace old projects with your latest and best work. Do this routinely, at least every 6 months or a year.

Menyusun Portofolio Arsitektur
Print-out portfolio format. Image by Adityuwana

Things to Avoid

  • Projects you didn't design. Don't include projects you didn't design. Architecture projects involve multiple disciplines from various fields. Ensure you clarify your role in the project.

  • Old projects. Include only the best and most recent projects. This is why portfolios should always be up-to-date. If possible, don't display projects older than 5 years, unless there's a specific reason (such as a prestigious project).

  • Poor-quality photos. If possible, invest in a real camera (not a smartphone camera) or hire a professional photographer.

  • Unusual fonts and spelling errors. Use a 'safe' and easily readable font like Helvetica. Consistently use this font throughout the content. Proofread all text to ensure there are no spelling errors.

  • Detailed Engineering Drawings. Unless applying for a drafting position, work drawings don't need to be included. Companies don't require them, and potential clients won't understand them. The same goes for Budget Plan documents.

  • Links to social media. If you've complained, vented, or shown negativity on social media, it's best not to include your social media accounts. Companies often research potential employees through social media, and so do potential clients.

Menyusun Portofolio Arsitektur
One of my projects in portfolio. Image by Adityuwana

If you wish to create an architectural portfolio but find it challenging to arrange the layout of images, I have developed architectural portfolio templates that can be downloaded for free here.

That concludes a brief discussion on tips for compiling a portfolio. I hope it proves beneficial, can be effectively implemented, and wish you success in your creative endeavors.


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