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How to propose and progress architectural concepts? is one of the primary and frequently asked questions by students. Proposing a design concept can be daunting and students, thus, avoid developing their design solution with a concept. This article will guide you through the significance of having a design concept, techniques of concept communication, and a few examples to assist you with.

What is a concept?

A concept can be outlined as an idea, thought, or theory. In simple words, concept is an approach towards the design solution. This initial concept derivation of the design phase proves to be a medium used to communicate the non-physical design idea to a finished product. Like foundation is to a building, concept acts like a spine that helps to associate various design elements in the process of design evolution.

Where do ideas come from?

Architectural concepts are generated from various fundamental areas like

  • site and its analysis,
  • projects functional requirements,
  • context of the site (in reference to its place, society, and associated culture),
  • building method i.e. technology,
  • precedent study and
  • design brief.

More presumably, an architectural prototype is embedded with the site and context. Site analysis is the ace of the deck in the process of spawning and development of an architectural concept.

Why do you need a concept?

One can design without a concept, yet you need one as it gives an insight into the work and helps the architect with a direct inclination and a skeleton to shape the design within. Having a concept helps to make choices or find solutions when in dubious situations keeping concept as the common point of consultation. The virtue of a concept and whether it stayed accordant throughout the design process determines the success of the project.

How to communicate the concept?

Communicating the concept distinctly is vital. Some diverse methods and tools can be used to communicate the concept;

  • Illustrations (sketches, drawings which include sections, etc.)
  • 3d models of the concept
  • Narrative
  • Drawing Speculation

Being creative with the methods of communicating the concept can certainly help in understanding and interpret it better. For instance, you can be visionary with the colours or materials that are used. Occasionally a combination of tools can be used to express the concept to make it quirky and lucid.

11 Architectural concept inspirations

  • Materials: The type of material that can be used for the project can be one of the initial concept ideas in the design process. In this process when you are directed towards a specific material it advocates a particular size, type, and limitations it has, thus fabricating a particular type of appearance. For instance, local materials can be used innovatively, which will give a feeling of solace and familiarity to the local visitors.
  • Physical Features: Physical features often cites the elements that are associated with the site like, water bodies vegetation, surrounding man-made structures, people that occupy the area, etc. This is a contextual type of approach which is derived with the support of site analysis, inspecting the data that has been gathered about the site. It is good to have a facet of a contextual approach either as one of the focus or as the principal factor. There are numerous approaches to the implementation of physical contextual features.
  • Form and Volume: When working with the concept of form and volume you may have to evaluate and study across how to work within negative and positive spaces. This can be initiated with an easy form and volume evaluation using blocks, though there is a probability that you might have to support the concept with one more idea to soundly develop and justify a significant proposal.
  • Public and Private: It is fairly unchallenging for a designer to decipher the public and public areas while referring to the site analysis. Initiating this concept of public and private spaces at an early stage can be the impetus for the project with the understanding of the type of building and nature of the context. To make it more penetrable, private spaces in the urban context are detached from the surroundings to maintain privacy on the other hand in the rural context the private areas comparatively have a greater correlation with their surroundings.
  • Grid: The concept of grids can be brought into play to bestow planned rationalized areas and segregation to make the initial work easy. In a word, a grid system is a progression of uniformly divided blocks that help the planner to sort out and structure their plans in a manner that is improved for a better visual walkthrough. Another advantage of using this concept is that it cuts back the time the architect would spend and empowers other advantages like a harmonious team alliance.
  • Light: Light is a salient component of architectural design. The feeling of space is associated with how the light is fused with it. There are numerous methods in which light can be used to carve, design, and determine spaces. Site analysis can help how light can be integrated as a concept with the support of the site’s physical attributes.
  • Orientation: It is essential for a building to be planned in a way that it is consolidated with the site’s locality and direction. Orientation plays a vital role in determining the placement of the structure and the arrangement of the rooms within it and thus is considered significantly while conceptualizing every architectural project with the help of its site analysis. Furthermore, plotting the path of light on the site will also help in the placement of the openings and open spaces.
  • Topography: Topography is an assessment of the slope and elevation of the site used to conceptualize the design of the structure in relationship to it. Topography can be used as an asset to the design and this concept can develop creative and interesting plans. Various approaches towards this concept can be perceived like the surrounding the structure will provide, the systemic technique, how the factors affecting the site are used. To conclude, topology is the root of the correlation between site and occupants.
  • Use: Use as a concept can originate a space-based concept in which the spaces will be managed in reference to the use, specification, direction, views, public and private spaces, etc. Planning spaces according to the brief and plotting it out using squares and rectangles to define the floors and can assist in visualizing the project and help in correlating the spaces that should be directly connected as per the uses and the spaces that can be placed separately but within its reach.
  • Mass: Massing is using the concept to visualize the spaces better by extruding the planned areas into 3d to study the design better. This process helps to determine the shape, form of the structure, and the relationship between both open and built spaces. Working in an additional perspective influences the aura of the spaces and helps in understanding the exterior and interior with their environments that will be created. This concept also helps in making things easier for the client to understand and analyze the impact of the structure on the eye.
  • Structure and Technology: Structure and technology is a concept where you decide on the method of construction beforehand. Knowing this will influence the cost of the project as well as the development of the project. There is a vast scope for selection from the common construction methods to the technology that has not yet been developed completely. To represent the structure part of it, a unique feature can be conceptualized, for example, having a space that is suspended and then works around the technology that can support its construction.


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