Table of contents

What Is an Architecture Work Sample?
Work Sample, Presentation vs Master Portfolio
How to reduce the architecture work sample’s size?
How many pages should a work sample have?
Cover image of post Architecture Work Sample - What It Is, What It Isn’t & Examples

Architecture Work Sample - What It Is, What It Isn’t & Examples

Author's profile picture
Fanni Szalkai

If you’re asked to send over your architecture work sample, NEVER send your portfolio. At this point, recruiters are interested in the TL;DR, not the full story.

Think about it like this: if your portfolio was a movie, then your sample would be the teaser trailer. It's short, edited, and it’s supposed to generate interest. But telling a compelling story with limitations is difficult. So, we’re here to help.

Let’s start with some examples, shall we?

Tan Thinh Dao

Tan Thinh Dao’s work samples page made with Archifolio

This work sample is so well-structured! After an eye-catching hero image and a brief introduction, he dives into some of the projects he’s been involved in. He kept it short and to the point. He included two sample projects and included a third one with a bit more in detail.

Nikita Zubko

Nikita Zubko uploaded an architectural poster to his Archifolio site

The way Nikita showcased his projects is super recruiter-friendly. He included his work samples on architectural posters and gathered them on his Archifolio site. This way, his projects are easily digestible, yet they have all the necessary information. Plus, it gives him room to expand on his projects even further in the interview.

Samantha Elliot

Samantha's Year 3 project created with Archifolio

We want to highlight Samantha’s year 3 projects, which is a perfect example of an architectural work sample. She didn’t go on and explain everything in her project, rather just gave a taste test. And we’re eager to eat some more!

Nora Schnell

This is an example work sample site created with Archifolio

We created this site as an example, using the Palazzo template and showcased 3 (AI-generated) projects. We wanted to show you how you can best take advantage of Archifolio’s features to create a stunning work sample. Let us know what you think.

Ready to start working on your work sample? You can create your site with the same amazing templates.
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Eileen Won

A printed portfolio page created by Eileen Won

Eileen Won's work sample from 2016

Eileen created a PDF file for her work sample that included both her professional and academic experience. From the line drawings to the 3D visualization, this portfolio demonstrates her voice as an architectural designer.

Ashlyn Wilson

A printed single-page PDF document created by Ashlyn Wilson

Ashlyn Wilson's one page work sample

Ashlyn did the unimaginable. She summarized her entire portfolio only in one single page. She created this teaser trailer in such an elegant manner, that any employer would be eager to see more.

What Is an Architecture Work Sample?

An architecture work sample is a trailer for your full portfolio. It’s usually a PDF document, which is 5 MB max (with 2-8 pages). It can also be a website as long as it’s short, showcasing at most 3 projects.

A pyramid of portfolios. At the bottom, we have the master portfolio, which is the most broad concept, while work sample is on the top, being the most specific.

The different levels of portfolios.

It’s used for creating a memorable first impression when applying for an architectural position. It is not, however, suitable for an architecture interview.

If an employer specifically asks for a work sample, it’s a sign that they are receiving loads of bulky applications and therefore you need to stand out from the crowd.

Portfolio building is easy with Archifolio. Just choose a template, upload your projects, and send it away!
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Architecture Work Sample, Presentation vs Master Portfolio

Though often we refer to all three as “architecture portfolio”, there are notable differences between the usage, the size limitations, and the type of projects that we include.

The difference between the various types of architecture portfolios

Intrigue with your Work sample or Sample portfolio

  • Used for submitting an application,
  • Traditionally a 2-page brochure,
  • Nowadays, either a PDF or a simple landing page,
  • Maximum 5 MB – but the smaller the better,
  • Heavily curated, relevant to a specific position, and
  • Maximum three relevant projects.

Your work sample needs to intrigue your readers. They aren’t supposed to get you the job, they’re there to catch attention and get you to the next step, the interview.

Wow with your Portfolio

  • Used in an architectural interview,
  • Traditionally a printed booklet,
  • Nowadays digital or printed,
  • Maximum 10 MB if PDF,
  • Curated, relevant to a specific position,
  • Includes a resume, and
  • (Optionally includes a sample of your extracurriculars).

Your portfolio needs to impress. It brings the opportunity to get that job, so make it memorable.

Engage them with your Master portfolio

  • Used for having your work organized and always available,
  • Traditionally a folder,
  • Nowadays a website,
  • No file size limitation,
  • Not created for a specific position, (but suitable for building a personal brand),
  • Includes a resume and a paragraph about you, and
  • Showcases your extracurriculars.

Your master portfolio engages your audience. It’s there to organize your projects and to send when you suddenly meet a potential employer. It’s the networker’s best friend, as you always have it on you.

Also, imagine sending interested colleagues or potential employers/clients to to see your work. It can’t get more professional than that.

Did you know?

You can create all three of these formats with Archifolio in a fraction of the time. You can build your master portfolio with your mixed projects, and export certain projects to PDF to get your presentation portfolio or your work sample.

Frequently asked questions

How to reduce the architecture work sample’s size?

Let us walk you through how we converted a 36,9 MB PDF portfolio into a 1,9 MB file without losing too much of its quality.

A GIF of using Adobe Acrobat's PDF compressor (uploading a file, compressing it, and downloading)

Using Adobe Acrobat's PDF compressor to reduce the file size of our work sample

  1. We exported our Archifolio site into PDF. We purposefully included an image collage and large, high-quality images for this example. No wonder we ended up with a monstrosity of a file of 36,9 MB.
  2. We used Adobe Acrobat’s free PDF compressor. One “free” compression is allowed before having to sign in.
  3. We chose the medium compression level, which proved to be the best. Not too much compromise on quality, but still a tiny PDF compared to the original. Keep in mind that the “estimated size” is a worst-case scenario. For us, it showed 16 MB, before we hit the Compress button, but it ended up being much smaller.
  4. It takes a bit of time to upload the work sample size, but in the end, Acrobat compressed our file to 1,9 MB.

How many pages should a work sample have?

Ideally, an architecture work sample is somewhere between 2 and 8 pages.

Here’s how we recommend structuring a 5-page work sample:

  • Page #1 - Your name, contact information (optionally a QR code to your master portfolio), and one project image that catches the eye.
  • Page #2-#3 - Your all-time favorite project in two pages. A lot depends on the layout, so think more of it as an architectural poster or a brochure. It will help you better position your sketches, renders, and short texts.
  • Page #4 - A project that best highlights that one essential skill needed for that position.
  • Page #5 - Your second favorite project briefly summarized. End on a wow!

We hope you now feel comfortable about creating your work sample. Let us know if you have any questions or could use some help. Archifolio’s got your back!

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Author's profile picture

Fanni Szalkai

Marketing Manager of Archifolio, Architecture Portfolio Expert & Tiny House Enthusiast 🏡