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The rules

A graphic presentation is usually a complex mix of different levels of information, composed of several drawings that are displayed on the same sheet. It is therefore vital to adhere to certain guidelines in order to ensure that all the levels of information and different elements of content are read correctly.

Project: Metazoo Location: Conceptual Architect: CJ Lim / Studio 8 Date: 2000

This conceptual scheme explores an idea using photomontage; the architectural concept has been applied to an aerial site photograph. The idea is further explored in three – dimension as a series of the scheme’s components are deconstructed to describe the idea in more detail. A legend associates each of the elements to the composite drawing.

All graphic presentations need a title. This may be the name of the building, or the title of the project, but either way it should appear in a larger text size so it can be read from a distance. Each individual drawing needs to be labelled clearly so that the viewer can immediately distinguish the plans, sections and elevations.

The scale of each drawing should also be clear. If several scales are used on one image then it should be easy for the viewer to distinguish which images use which scale.

As the drawings become more detailed the size of any text within them will become progressively smaller. To ensure that the information can still be viewed correctly, detailed drawings should use a numerical key or a legend, or incorporate symbols that allow the viewer to identify the different spaces or functions within the scheme.

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Graphic presentations are often accompanied by an oral presentation, which is usually carried out by the architect or originator of the work. The oral presentation provides yet another opportunity to elaborate the concept underlying the scheme, explain the connections between the presentation images and describe the idea of the scheme in further detail.

When presenting a scheme orally, connecting the commentary to each of the drawings is key. A good oral presentation (like a good graphic presentation) tells the story of the design process, from initial concept through to the development of the scheme’s details. Key aspects of the concept should be outlined at the start of the presentation to identify the primary drivers in the scheme’s development.

Presentation and exhibition

In schools of architecture the oral presentation is called the ‘crit’ (or critique) or the design review. Oral presentations in professional practice (to a client) are referred to as a ‘pitch’. Whether presenting to a client, colleagues or examiners, it is vital to ensure that you know your audience and have addressed the parameters of the project brief for your scheme.

The oral presentation is an exercise in the promotion of your design and your opportunity to convince the audience that it is both exciting and viable. When explaining a scheme it helps to refer to all the drawings, sketches and models in your graphic presentation in order to fully describe how the building will be realised and how it might function. Doing so will convince your audience that you have explored all the design possibilities sensitively.

When presenting or exhibiting a proposed scheme the images will form part of a story. Often the architect or designer will orally describe the scheme, and this animates the images and brings together the different strands behind the concept. In doing so the designer can reveal aspects of the idea that may not be apparent in the drawings and emphasise the important conceptual drivers for the project. Also, importantly, questions about a design can be answered directly.

The oral presentation should be executed much like a piece of theatre; it should be rehearsed, all the props (your drawings and models) should be present and your audience should be engaged at all times.

To me, the drawn language is a very revealing language, one can see in a few lines whether a man is really an architect.

Eero Saarinen

Storyboarding is a technique often used by architects as a means to plan their concept or scheme. Much like a comic strip, storyboards are composed of frames that collectively explain how the architecture may be used or function over time. It applies a narrative to the design concept.

Project: Glass Stop Booth Location: Conceptual Architects: CJ Lim / Studio 8 Date: 2002

This sequence of images is explained in the form of a storyboard. The images are generated from a three­dimensional CAD model and each one shows a different view of the scheme and the structure both open and closed. Even though these are static, two-dimensional images they suggest the movement of the booth’s panels to suggest how the user might interact with it over time.

There are many ways for storyboards to be used as a successful presentation tool. They offer a means of describing and analysing the uses and functions of buildings or spaces over time, which means that the architect (or viewer) can critically appraise the scheme. Storyboards can also be used to describe a series of potential views of a journey through the scheme, which can suggest how the building may be experienced over time.

Layout and presentation

Storyboards can be constructed from freehand sketches, measured drawings or from a series of fly through images that are organised sequentially. Physical models can also be photographed and presented as a series of stills within a storyboard frame.

The storyboard can also be a very helpful tool in the design development process because it can represent spatial sequence, which means that the architect can visualise and consider connected or associated spaces. Additionally, storyboards can be used as a helpful means of planning graphic presentations or offering an overview of the connections and relationships between the different visual elements of a presentation.

The frame is a useful element of the storyboard as it separates the drawings and can allow different viewpoints of the same form to be presented.

Showing a proposed structure three-dimensionally allows the viewer to see ‘around’ the building form, which is particularly appropriate if the form is complex and multifaceted. Different views or aspects of a building form can be superimposed into a single presentation using framed boxes to highlight different elements of the scheme.

A portfolio contains representative samples of design work, and can be produced in both a physical or electronic format (or a mixture of media). Producing a portfolio is a design exercise in itself. It needs to communicate ideas and information clearly through a considered narrative, careful organisation and layout of information, and well-placed text and graphics.

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