Architecture Portfolio Walkthrough, Year 1, Semester 1

A while back, I announced that holidays had started (well, now officially they have, just handed in my last assignment today) and that I was going back to all my projects and blogging more. The latter, obviously, was a complete failure, but hopefully this picture-filled post (all 20 of then, oh yes) will make up for the delay in the blog schedule (it was also a good opportunity to practice using the camera).

This is a walkthrough of my year 1, semester 1 architectural portfolio. There’s a lot of beginner-trash in it of course, but I hope I’ve condensed most of it from the around 150 pages worth of content. (Yes, you read that right – 150. That does seem excessive for a portfolio, but it actually isn’t that much, as they are double sided, and there were actually two portfolios, not one) So think of it as two 25 page portfolios really, plus extra content. Due to the immense quantity of work, I’ve cut out the majority and just focused on a few and will not have time to explain the details of each project.

The work inside was since March, so about 12 weeks worth of work, and the portfolio itself only had a week to create everything.

Note that for those who have been stalking me on WIPUP, some of this won’t be new stuff.

The portfolios were both presented in a stylishly hand-made briefcase. Yes, it is upside-down in the picture above. That briefcase was also the first proper physical object I’ve built before, so I”m quite pleased with how it turned out. An A3 sheet of paper fits very snugly inside.

Upon opening the briefcase, the audience is overwhelmed with tons of gewgaws and knick-knacks of every kind. For one of my courses, we were situated on the imaginary town of Cliffton (which has a landmark cliff, surprise surprise), upon which my building was a kayak manufacturing plant. The portfolio was designed as though a tourist had stumbled through the town and picked up trash along the way.

Looks exciting, eh? Well, let’s toss out the dodgily crafted kayak (needs lots of work) and the business cards with tiny sketches and drawings on them and look further.

The bulk of the portfolios were presented in two hand-bound hardcover books of cropped A3 and A4 sizes respectively. These held the parts which couldn’t be presented in more interesting formats. The A3 cover seems to have bent for some odd reason, perhaps its the glue.

The portfolio design itself was a very minimalist grid layout that some might remember first cropped up in my experimental web-folio user interface. Just smack in the center of the page. Pages were laid out in a “text” on the left, and “image-only” on the right per spread.

The left would always follow the same layout, and slowly build and construct an increasingly complex timeline of events as the person progressed further through the book. I found it a great way to put the work into perspective as well as to make the “text-only” section not so boring.

Some pages, however, with the more interesting technical drawings were complete spreads to-the-edge. The above we see a proposed abstract and conceptual transformation of the “CarriageWorks” site (a rather hip place here in Sydney, recently hosting TEDxSydney).

… as well as full-page renders, of course. People do like eyecandy.

… some of the more diagrammatic pages with thin strips through the page spread …

… and of course the napkin-sketches that show the birth of ideas.

More full-page renders – there is a lot of detail in these renders, which is why I chose the rather bulky pagesize of A3. (I find A3 landscape books rather cumbersome, but it was a necessary evil)

One of my projects involved the insertion of a set of rails and tracks into a back lane such that existing elements could be transformed and reattached into new layouts such that they performed different functions. (This wasn’t for the design course, but rather for the communications aspect, so let’s not look at why people would want to sit on bins and trip over tracks)

It was appropriate to create an IKEA-esque instruction manual (a separately provided A5 handbook) as to how to assemble the product, aptly named Konstruera Bagar. (name chosen by Erik Kylen) It means “Construct Arc”, I am told.

The insides are full of bad Swedish puns, unnecesary Swedish accents, and completely incorrect grammar, but let’s not get into that. It is, of course, also available in 80 different languages.

The design portfolio (the A4 book) favoured a more clean-cut “photos-only” showcase rather than the heavily diagrammatic approach of the communciations portfolio.

… here we see some of the detail in the tilework of the models done during design …

Along with the design book, a small fold-out visitors’ guide to Cliffton map was presented, offering both very scenic views and maps of the surrounding area and context, as well as a charming watercolour rendition of the building on the back – oh, and of course free coupons you can cut out.

My tutor was also invited to the monthly KayakersAnonymous pre-meeting congregation, showcasing the community areas of the building, and the various zonings that changed depending on the time of day.

Here we have the Kayak Maintenance Guide. It is probably important to mention that our imaginary town’s primary transportation system was kayaking through a system of canals. My building was essentially the town garage.

Apart from blabbering on about your warranty, the maintenance guide also details how to service your kayak, as well as exposes the internal processes of the buildings and various circulation paths you can take to minimize further damage to your kayak when coming to the building.

What briefcase would be complete without a newspaper clipping from the “Cliffton Times”, mischieviously dated Nov 11, 1918. It details the proposal of the building as well as the zoning decisions that were made within and outside the building site. It also pokes fun at some of my other group members – why not :)

Finally, two A1 panels of the final presentations from each subject.

Well, I hope that was interesting! I might post a PDF of the documents themselves, but that’s going to have to wait.

Dion Moult

I've been developing software for well over 10 years, work as an architect (not the computer kind, the regular sort), and am classically trained as a pianist. I try to do the right thing when I get the chance in my field, such as through contributing to open-source communities and promoting sustainable living.

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  1. Wow, I’m amazed how much stuff you’ve managed to create in such short period of time. Now I understand why it’s been so hard to get hold of you for the past 6 months lol. With the risk of sounding a bit self-righteous, I must say my favorite is Konstruera B├ągar. It looks like an actual IKEA-product, very well executed. Not only the traditional IKEA manual feel have you managed to capture, but also a very pedagogical 3D overview. You should write them a letter and see what they have to say about your product :)

    When it comes to the physical wooded briefcase, I’m not as impressed. You could have added more details and maybe painted it or wrapped it in leather. But the content within, just awesome.

    Keep it coming, Dion!


  2. Cheers Erik!

    I’m against any form of finishing on raw wood. I hate varnished or painted wood – I think it looks tacky. I think the main reason is that my rather sensitive hands react very well towards the feel of raw wood whereas certain painted or varnished woods can trigger the hyperhydrosis.

    I’m keeping the briefcase nonetheless to use to hold my various documents throughout the future of my architecture years, so I’ll definitely think about improving it (eg: sculpting a proper handle, not a dodgy door handle!)

  3. Very typical design of a student portfolio. Too much design with little bearing.

    Real world people will want to see your portfolio that they can understand.

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