20 Architecture Portfolio Examples and your Ultimate Step-by-step Guide
Browse through some amazing examples in our ultimate guide on how to create your own stunning architecture portfolio.
Designing a building is much different from creating your architecture portfolio. And while you have the first one down, the second one might leave you scratching your head. If it is the case, or you’d just like to browse through some great architecture portfolio examples and get some inspiration and tips, this article is certainly for you.
You’ll read about:
- 20 of the best architecture portfolio examples
- What is an architecture portfolio?
- Why do you need an architecture portfolio?
- Types of architecture portfolios
- Step-by-step guide to creating your architecture portfolio
- Do’s and don’ts of architecture portfolios
- How long should your architecture portfolio be?
- Tailoring your architecture portfolio for college, internship, a job or to get clients
- Key takeaways – what makes a good architecture portfolio?
20 of the best architecture portfolio examples
So, what does an architecture portfolio look like? We’ve listed our favorite architecture portfolio examples to give you inspiration.
What is an architecture portfolio?
A professional architecture portfolio is a document or website, used to showcase your previous projects, and also your skills and personal style.
A great portfolio shows that it is you that the potential client or employer needs because you are perfect for the job. In order to prove this, you need to give evidence of the set of skills that most architecture jobs require. These are:
- Creativity and originality,
- Problem solving,
- Theoretical knowledge,
- Communication skills,
- Teamwork and interdisciplinary communication,
- Organizing skills,
- Technical abilities, software skills (CAD, 3D modeling),
- Hand sketching, drawing,
- Graphic design, and
- Versatility – photography or other artistic skills.
It’s a long list, but with the right structure and content, you can show all this to your future employers, teachers, or clients. Plus, we are here to make it easier for you.
Why do you need an architecture portfolio?
One thing is for sure: Every architect needs to have a portfolio. Therefore, you will be asked to present your portfolio in different stages of your architecture career. For example, even in the beginning, you can’t study architecture without a portfolio. (If you’re wondering what to include in your architecture portfolio before getting into a college, jump here) Later on, when you are applying for an internship, an architecture job and when you’re building a clientele, your portfolio will be essential. Therefore, creating a selection of your work can be your biggest help, but if you don’t give this matter the proper attention, it can hinder your career.
However important a portfolio is, you need to consider that most firms and hiring managers take less than two minutes to review them. So, it is not just your work that needs to be spot on, but also your presentation.
It might seem like a daunting task, but don’t worry, you are in good hands. We’ve created this handy guide for you in order to walk you through this process.
Types of architecture portfolios
As you can see from the examples above, architecture portfolios come in all shapes and sizes, so you have multiple ways to get started. But before you jump right into color palettes and font sizes, you need to decide which program to use for your architecture portfolio.
In order to get an extensive pros and cons list about which tool is the best, read our article about architecture portfolio templates.
1. Printed portfolio
Just two decades ago an architecture portfolio meant a printed book with all your projects neatly organized in it. But of course, in the digital age, it has become outdated. Besides the fact that it is shockingly expensive to print a portfolio in the right quality, and a pain in the neck to carry around, the biggest drawback is that it cannot be edited. This means that even if you make it perfectly, it is relevant only for up to a year and it cannot be tailored to the job at hand.
Nevertheless, it is always important to study the job description or requirements carefully, because if a printed portfolio is asked of you, you either need to deliver or say goodbye to the job.
2. Offline portfolio (PDF)
One of the most common architecture portfolio types is a simple PDF file. It can be accessed from almost all devices without problem, and it can be created rather easily. In addition, there are countless architecture portfolio templates readily available to start creating.
On the other hand, the downside of offline portfolios is that you need to be a proficient user of InDesign, which can take some time. In addition, sharing can be a bit problematic, because some email servers cannot send a file that’s bigger than 15 Mb.
3. Online portfolio
In this day and age, having a good online presence is key for being a successful architect. Therefore, in many cases, an online portfolio is the way to go. The great thing about these is that they are easily created, shared, and updated.
The disadvantage lies in technology itself, because unfortunately, servers may crash. And if you are applying to a firm where they still insist on printing portfolios, this may prove to be difficult.
There are two main ways to go about creating your online architecture portfolio:
You can build it with website builders (such as Squarespace or WordPress), which gives you an endless amount of customization provided that you can code.
Portfolio website builders
If you find a portfolio website builder specifically for architects, you will get all the features you may need without having to learn to code.
Here at Archifolio, our number one priority is to make it easy for you to tell your story. You have enough on your plate producing your best work, why should you worry about the technicalities and the dull tasks too? Sign up and create a stunning portfolio website.
Step-by-step guide to creating your architecture portfolio
By now we’ve covered what an architecture portfolio looks like, what programs you can use to create them, but now let’s look at how to put together an architecture portfolio from start to finish.
1. Research, research, research
Before you start creating your portfolio, you need to have a thorough preparation session. You should answer the following four questions:
What do you need your portfolio for?
Would you like to study architecture?
In this case, analyze the websites of the colleges you are applying to. In most cases, they have some information about what the requirements are. Look at it carefully and follow the instructions.
Are you applying for a job?
Then you need to research the firm you are applying to. For example, look at their projects and see what market they are serving. Is it a firm working in industrial, commercial, residential, conservational, or landscape architecture? Do they list interior architecture as a service? Are they focused on sustainable design? Unless the job description states clearly what area you will be working on, you need to showcase all relevant projects of yours that align with the company’s profile.
Would you like to impress potential clients?
Then you need to decide what types of customers you will want to work with. You can even create a description of your ideal client and get to know as much as you can about their preferences. This way, you’ll know from the get-go how you can impress them.
What format to choose?
This is twofold: You should consider which one you prefer (check out our pros and cons list) and if there are any restrictions or requirements from the architecture firm or university.
What to include in an architecture portfolio?
The short answer: your outstanding architecture projects and a few other designs. However, if you are unsure, here is a great way to go about it:
- Gather all your projects into one folder on your computer. And we mean everything. Don’t just think of architecture projects, but furniture design, photography, graphic design and anything that you have created.
- Organize your projects in a separate folder based on the type or date of the project or any way it makes sense to you.
- It’s time for the selection. Set yourself a high standard and then in a third folder include only your best work. If you have a countless number of projects, be ruthless about the selection and only include the best of the best.
How to organize projects in an architecture portfolio?
Here are our recommendations:
- When applying for an architecture college or masters, it might be a good idea to organize your projects chronologically. This way your progress is clear.
- In order to land an architecture internship position, you first want to show your academic work, then your personal work.
- When building your portfolio to land a job or to build a clientele, it is advisable to start with your strongest piece and end with your second best. This way, you have a great first impression and you end on a high.
2. Have a structure to highlight your best work
So, now you know what to include in an architecture portfolio. Now comes the structure and the design. This phase is slightly different for offline and online portfolios.
Print or offline portfolios
For your offline portfolio you will need the following structure:
- Cover page,
- Project title, and
- Project page.
Online portfolio website
For your online portfolio you should have the following pages:
- 1. Homepage,
- 2. Projects,
- 3. About,
- 4. Contact, and
- 5. Others (optional): Resume, News, Awards, Media.
In this article, we will cover architecture portfolio websites in greater detail, however, most of the advice given is applicable to print and offline portfolios as well.
1. Homepage – make it interesting and impressive
First impressions are crucial and your home page (or cover page) is your hook. With a great design and impressive visual content you can convince your audience to see more of what you have to offer.
Navigation is also a key element that you need to keep in mind from the beginning of designing your portfolio. It needs to be easy to get around your site.
What should you include in your architecture portfolio homepage?
- Your name (this should be constantly visible),
- Your logo (if you have one),
- Social media accounts, and
- Project thumbnails (links to your project pages).
2. Projects – let your work impress your audience
This is the reason your portfolio will be viewed, so you should give it the attention it deserves. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, your projects should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but they should also showcase your skills, knowledge, and professionality.
It’s beneficial if you present your design process. This will show them much more than a great looking building. It will let your audience know how you think, how detail-oriented you are and how well you would fit into their team.
The must-have elements of a project page are the following:
Name of the project
It can be the name that you used for your project, or you can come up with a new, creative name, it’s up to you. The name allows your audience to easily refer back to one certain project in your interview.
This is vital. Even if your work is the best in the world, if you present it in a sloppy way, it will reflect poorly on you as an architect. So, either hire a professional photographer for your finished buildings (whom you give credit to in your portfolio) or take some time to learn photography skills and invest in a good camera.
Of course if you are an undergraduate architect and you haven’t participated in a project that has reached the construction phase yet, you don’t need to hire a professional. But when documenting your models using a tripod and having good lighting is highly recommended.
If you are wondering what sort of imagery you could include, here is a list:
- First sketches,
- Site plan,
- Chosen design plans,
- Floor plans,
- Elevations and 3D renders,
- Construction drawings (blueprints),
- Aerial view perspective,
- Sectional perspective, and
- Photography of finished projects or models.
You don’t need to include every one of these in each project, just when they are applicable.
Normally in graphic design, the optimal text to image ratio is balanced, but with architecture portfolios, your pictures are doing most of the work. Thus, you should give them much more room to breathe.
Information for context
There are some vital pieces of information that are expected to be shown right away. These include:
- type of project (type of service that you performed),
- type of real estate,
- size of real estate,
- client (private person or firm),
- stage of the project,
- date/year, and
- collaboration and credits (e.g. to the photographer, colleague).
Since hiring managers in most cases don’t read longer texts at first sight, it’s better if you include all this information in bullet points separated from the description.
Most works you will include in your portfolio are complex and long term projects and therefore it might not be straightforward for everyone how to describe a project.
Our recommendation is to keep it short and to the point. Start with a few words about the client brief or the academic assignment, and then explain how you approached the task. Keep in mind that above all you want to walk your audience through your own design process. Documenting your projects in every stage might come in handy for this step. If you haven’t started, get used to documenting your projects in every stage.
You may also write about the style of the project, the materials used or other information that is relevant at the specific project.
3. About page – make them want to work with you
Your About page is where you introduce yourself for your potential employer or client, in addition, this is the place where you can convince them that you are the right choice.
If you are a professional, start with your expertise and your services. If you are an architecture college graduate, tell them about your specialization and the field of architecture you’d like to dip your toes into.
Include your experience and where you are based, but also tell them about your interests, hobbies.
Whenever you have the chance include some client testimonials from happy clients.
4. Contact page – keep it simple
Your contact page should be short and clear. Include the following information:
- Email address,
- Phone number,
- Where you are based or address of your studio, and
- Social media accounts.
3. Design your architecture portfolio easily
Once you have the structure, you might be wondering how to design an architecture portfolio. You’ve seen a couple of great architecture portfolio examples above, which can prove to be useful as inspiration. This is where we advise you to start.
Then, we recommend that you start from an architecture portfolio template as this will save you a great deal of time and you can customize it to your liking. With offline portfolios, you need to consider the layout (portrait or landscape) and the page size (we recommend setting it to A3).
When you are choosing a template, make sure that it reflects your design aesthetic and that it has enough whitespace, and room for large images. These will allow your work to shine and impress your audience.
4. Share your architecture portfolio at the right place
Sharing your portfolio the right way is just as important as creating it. There is some difference between offline and online portfolios. Let’s see them:
If you are wondering where to upload it, here’s a handy list of all relevant sites:
There are various ways to showcase an online architecture portfolio, but the most important is your LinkedIn profile and other social media platforms that you use professionally. When applying for jobs or internships, you will include the link to your portfolio in the email.
5. Present your architecture portfolio with confidence
As a last step, you will need to practice to present your architecture portfolio for a job interview. There are two main ways employers conduct interviews:
- actively – asking questions, pointing out parts in your resume and portfolio they are interested in, and
- passively – sitting back and letting you hold a presentation, only asking questions at the end.
Be prepared for both approaches.
A great structure in which you can present any project is the following:
- Context – outline the client brief or academic assignment, give information about the real estate and describe the project.
- Your role – write about exactly what parts of the project were you responsible for and give credit to your teammates.
- Challenges – highlight some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Since the pandemic, it has become frequent that we resort to keeping in touch online. Thus, make sure that you practice presenting through all the most common video conferencing softwares (Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams) so you will look professional no matter what.
Do’s and don’ts of architecture portfolios
Offline architecture portfolio do’s and don’ts
- Don’t send a file bigger than 10 Mb (if you are wondering how to compress an architecture portfolio, check out Adobe Acrobat’s PDF compressor).
- Do name your file professionally (something like: YourName_ArchitecturePortfolio.pdf
- Don’t have more than 50 pages.
- Do have a neat table of contents and clearly visible page numbers.
- Don’t save your portfolio as a JPG or PNG, it looks unprofessional.
- Do choose an architecture portfolio template that reflects your design aesthetic.
- Don’t have typos in your texts.
Architecture websites do’s and don’ts
- Do have an easily understandable navigation.
- Don’t have typos or grammar mistakes in your architecture portfolio. Ask somebody to proofread it, and use online writing tools (e.g. Grammarly)
- Do have loads of impressive pictures, but make sure that your website loads fast by compressing your images (with e.g. TinyPNG),
- Don’t choose a font that’s hard to read and make sure that it’s not too small (start with 16px and adjust to the legibility)
- Do use a professional scanner for your sketches.
- Don’t be afraid of whitespace, avoid visual clutter
- Do update your portfolio frequently in order to keep it relevant.
- Don’t forget to send your architecture resume and cover letter with your portfolio.
- Do give credit to your teammates and show that you are a team player.
- Don’t be humble – be proud of your achievements and show your future employer your potential
- Do ask for feedback from your peers and alter your portfolio accordingly.
How long should your architecture portfolio be?
The preference of how many projects should be in an architecture portfolio may vary from one architecture firm to the other, but there are rules of thumb that might help you. Ideally, the number of projects should be 5-10, including detailed architectural projects, and a few projects from other disciplines.
Tailoring your architecture portfolio for college, internship, a job or to get clients
How to create a portfolio for college?
Showcasing your architectural projects can be straightforward once you have experience, but how do students create an architecture portfolio to get into college?
People in the admission office are mostly interested in how creative and passionate you are, and how well you can communicate through sketches. Hence, you need to show this in your portfolio. Don’t worry about creating a perfectly detailed technical drawing that could be used in real life. Rather, include any type of artwork that you have created and that you are proud of.
As mentioned before, organize your projects chronologically, so that you also show how fast you can learn and research the website of the college to find the requirements of the portfolios. This will help you immensely.
How to make a portfolio for an internship?
Oh, the evergreen problem: You can’t land a job without any experience, but you can’t have any experience without having a job. But a great portfolio might just do the trick.
When applying for an internship, make sure to show different areas in which you can work at the architecture firm you are applying to. Research the firm and see what area of architecture they work in. As mentioned above, it’s best to organize your portfolio by firstly showing your academic and then the personal projects.
If you’ve attended any competition or have done any other extracurricular activities related to architecture, make sure to include it in order to show that you are proactive and passionate.
How to make a portfolio for landing a job?
Research plays a huge role in applying for a job. Read thoroughly the job ad and get to know as much as possible about the company. In addition, you can organize your work by starting with your best and ending with your second best project.
It’s important that the hiring manager does not feel that he/she is one of the many that you sent your application to. So, forget ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear Sir or Madam’, and dig a little deeper to know who your letter does actually concern.
How to create a freelancer portfolio?
Your communication should be slightly different when talking to clients. You need to find the right balance between sounding professional and not using too much jargon. Of course, it depends on what type of market you are serving, but generally speaking, you should rely mostly on professional photographs of finished projects or top-notch renders, instead of too many sketches and technical drawings.
Key takeaway – what makes a good architecture portfolio?
All-in-all you need to consider a vast amount of aspects when creating your architecture portfolio, including:
- What is your purpose?
- Which area of architecture are you working in?
- What type of portfolio do you prefer?
- What structure works best for you?
- What’s your design aesthetic? and
- How can you tailor your portfolio in order to best fit the position you are applying for?
However, the most important is still this: your audience should be able to read between the lines and see your creativity, skills and personality. So to answer the question of what makes a good architecture portfolio, it is you and your originality.
We hope that these tips will help you create an impressive portfolio and you get the motivation to start this hard but rewarding task. We at Archifolio are here to make it easier for you. Give our tool a go and build an impressive architecture portfolio website today!
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