Every architect dreams of securing a position in a great architectural firm or studio, but if you’re looking to change job roles you need to know how to make your architectural portfolio stand out from the crowd and highlight your best projects and achievements.
It can be hard for any professional architect to design a compelling portfolio, especially if you have a wealth of great work under your belt.
How should you approach it? Should you create a portfolio website that is open to everyone? Or do you want a portfolio that is available to a potential employer? In this article, we will share our top tips for making your architecture portfolio stand out so that you only have to focus on the content!
Consider the audience
Before you sit down to go through the design process, you should ask yourself who your audience is. For example, if you are applying to an interior architecture firm, you should try to do some research about the company online to establish what type of clients they serve and projects they are interested in and adjust your portfolio accordingly.
You want to ensure that you show the most relevant projects to the role and hone in on the ones you believe suit the company best. You also want to highlight any innovative solutions that you have worked on that may benefit the firm.
PDF or Online portfolio website?
Although creating an online portfolio can be quicker and easier, it’s always advised to have a PDF version of your portfolio too. Technology is great when it works, but more often than not technical errors on the website or with someone’s computer can be frustrating.
The great thing about having your architectural portfolio in PDF format is that it can function on most devices and can be easily downloaded. Additionally, you have full control of your portfolio design which means you can show off your graphic design skills and wow the recruiter even more.
An integral part of any architecture portfolio is your personal information so you want to ensure you make it count. Most architecture portfolios feature this on the first page. Include plenty of relevant information about your degree, any chartered status, work experience and any clients you’ve worked for. You should also mention any software you are able to use as well as any language skills.
You want to ensure your personality shines through here too, so if you have interests in competitive sports, photography or cooking, try to include them to allow potential employers insight into who you really are.
Showcase your most impressive projects
As tempting as it can be to show the many projects you have worked on, you want to ensure that you showcase only the best ones. Take a moment to step back and collate the best 8-10 projects that you have worked on. If you’re unsure about a project or you don’t know whether it suits the architecture firm’s profile, leave it out and focus on something else.
Nothing shows an architect’s potential better than theoretical and academic projects. University is the time to create the start of a portfolio and these works are worth a lot. Worth as much as real projects, by the way. Research on architectural history or the like, when fully developed, demonstrates fundamental knowledge for day-to-day projects. Demonstrate the intellect behind a process and more sophisticated analytical capabilities. Architecture is becoming more and more about research, therefore a mastery of theory is crucial. It should be evident – obviously and succinctly – in the presentation of your work.
Include Team projects
Although your professional portfolio will contain your own architecture work, it’s important to show potential clients and recruiters that you can function in a team too. An architect’s job requires teamwork and building relationships so showing that you have worked well and been successful as part of a team is great to show.
All you need to do is name the project, name the other architects that you worked with and highlight your own work as part of it. Whether you completed technical drawings, presented hand drawings to a potential client or found an innovative solution to a common problem, your contribution needs to be highlighted.
Make use of blank space
How you present your digital portfolio is just as important as what you present. Professional portfolios that are loaded with images, text and drawings on one page can be an eyesore. It’s much better to have less content on each page than to stuff content in. You want to ensure there is enough white space on the page to draw in employers and stand a chance of being invited to an interview for your dream job.
Less is more
Too many images and text-heavy segments can exhaust the employer and take away from your architecture portfolio. As above be sure the layout draws attention to your work without overwhelming the employer with too much information at once.
Most architectural firms don’t spend longer than 2 minutes looking through portfolios which is why the layout of your architecture portfolio matters.
A good rule of thumb is to show a few key images of your projects as well as an insight into the design problem, process and solution. Consider annotating each image with a short comment to explain your thought process.
Just like a CV, you want to ensure that you update your portfolio regularly (around every 6 months to 1 year is perfect). You don’t need to add every project you have worked on in that space of time, but you should include the ones you are most proud of or played an integral part of.
When you update your professional experience regularly, you can ensure that you remember what happened and the role you played. It also ensures that you are fully prepared for any opportunities that may arise.
Read our earlier blog What to include in an architectural cv