architectural design

Architecture is a type of art that involves designing and constructing buildings while keeping an eye on both aesthetic appeal and functionality. From the Colosseum in Ancient Rome to modern-day skyscrapers, architects have created stunning structures for centuries by following basic principles and being creative with their designs.

The concept of architectural design is an important aspect of designing and constructing buildings. Unfortunately, many architecture students face a challenge when it comes to design concepts. Usually, people talk about these more in design studios. So, when starting your studies, it can be difficult to understand what architectural conceptual design is and its types. If you landed here looking to enhance your comprehension, you’re in luck because I am about to lay down everything I know about this fascinating topic. Read on to learn more!

Defining Architectural Conceptual Design

Architectural conceptual design refers to the initial phase of the design¬†process. In this stage, architects generate and explore fundamental ideas that will shape a building or space’s overall form, function, and character. It is a creative and exploratory stage that precedes detailed planning and execution. This stage involves designing an image or demonstrating how a space may be employed to communicate purposefulness, aesthetics, and significance. Such design incorporates various components such as tactical deliberations, materials, forms, etc.

The Importance of Conceptual Designs in Architecture

The importance of this phase in architecture is undeniable. It enables designers to contemplate and examine different approaches and assess the experience of constructing a building. Also, it is essential for the further advancement of any project. Conceptual designs offer a productive method of introducing ideas before entering a more refined design phase. It helps ascertain that the venture meets client expectations and adheres to quality standards.

How to Create Good Conceptual Designs in Architecture

For architects wishing to generate successful conceptual designs, it is vital to be creative and open-minded. They need to cultivate an awareness of the physical environment surrounding the site. This way, they can produce something that harmonizes with the surroundings.

Additionally, they must possess a strong comprehension of culture and beauty. This way, their designs can elicit interest from local inhabitants. Furthermore, architects must employ creative tactics regarding materials and construction techniques if they intend for their concept to be distinct from others.

Types of Architectural Conceptual Designs

Conceptual designs in architecture can take various forms, each with its unique characteristics and purposes. Here are 11 types of them for you to consider and use in your studies:

1. Form and Volume

When it comes to conceptual building design, architects must consider how everything fits together to make one big thing. It’s like putting together a puzzle. They look at two important things: “form” and “volume.”

conceptual building design

  • The form refers to the interior organization of a building. Here is where they divide the space and figure out where everything goes.
  • Volume is about the rooms inside the building. As an architect, you decide how big or small every room should be and how they all fit together.

2. Sketches and Drawings

Sketching and conceptual architectural drawings are among the primary visual instruments employed in building design. They are essential for investigating ideas, expressing design concepts, and conveying details to prospective clients. Architects often use various sketches and drawings, ranging from highly detailed renderings to diagrams with straightforward outlines.

Drawings must be precise and accurately represent the final project. At the same time, they also need to be able to capture an idea’s essence. Sketches can be more abstract in nature and may hint at elements of a proposed building without having them fully defined. Producing both types of images can help architects effectively communicate their designs so that their peers can easily understand.

3. Aesthetics

When it comes to conceptual designs in architecture, aesthetics is an integral part. Aesthetics refers to the beauty or harmony viewers experience when they encounter a space. It can include several components: color, shape, form, texture, and proportion. The architect must consider these components when designing buildings to create something that is cohesive and visually appealing.

4. Sustainability

Sustainability is an essential factor to consider when it comes to creating conceptual diagram landscape architecture. It includes assessing the environmental effects of a proposed building design and ensuring that it can meet its purposes without negatively impacting the natural environment.

It’s important to use resources wisely when designing buildings. Architects must think about how they can use as few materials as possible. When designing structures, they must also consider long-term use, including daily use of doors and windows and energy needs. Sustainable buildings should last a long time without becoming old-fashioned or wasteful.

5. Context

Context is among the most crucial elements to consider in architectural design. It relates to building construction and its relationship with its environment. It is all about how a building stands up within its geographical location regarding climate, surrounding landscapes, present structures, or natural features. For this reason, architects must factor in all this information when crafting designs. They have to ensure new constructions blend harmoniously with the environment.

architectural conceptual design

6. Circulation

Circulation in architecture pertains to the movement from one area to another or the paths and routes people take while traversing a building, space, or site. It is essential to consider circulation when planning a house since it influences how well it functions. Furthermore, ensuring adequate provision for circulation entails taking into account numerous access requirements such as stairways, elevators, escalators, ramps, and signage. Therefore, as an architect, you must comprehend existing patterns prior to devising any new design to ensure the proper movement of occupants.

7. Physical Features of the Site

The site’s physical features are those aspects that have a bearing on the design process. These can range from topography, soil type, river, vegetation, drainage, and other geographical or land-use characteristics that may influence project construction. In addition, manmade features such as roads, fences, and already established buildings could likewise be taken into consideration when designing a structure. Consequently, architects must analyze these factors at the beginning of their work to produce an appropriate plan for the space.

8. Biophilic Design

conceptual diagram landscape architecture

Biophilic design is a relatively novel idea in the realm of architectural design. It gives architects the ability to include aspects of nature in their designs. Examples of biophilic design include:

  • Building green walls or living walls
  • Indoor gardens
  • Ample sunlight
  • Horizontal surfaces for plants
  • Hanging planters
  • Water features like ponds and fountains
  • Skylights or lightwells to provide natural lighting
  • Handcrafted timber furniture pieces
  • Exposed ceilings that encourage air movement and breathability

This type of holistic approach can benefit the occupants emotionally by allowing them to connect with nature in an urban environment. Also, it increases energy efficiency due to its ability to optimize both natural light and ventilation while minimizing reliance on artificial lighting fixtures and air conditioning systems. Biophilic design aims to ensure people feel comfortable while in the buildings.

9. Cultural and Historical Elements

Architecture is a reflection of the values and beliefs of the cultures it represents. You can easily observe it across time, where varying societies construct structures that manifest their distinctive cultures. However, in this case, culture doesn’t only mean the traditions and customs of a community. It also depends on a structure typology and the requirements of the occupants, meaning local culture can determine building style, forms, and spatial functions.

10. Metaphors

Metaphors and similes often play a significant role in expressing architectural concepts. When it comes to architecture, metaphors are powerful tools, symbolizing tangible elements that represent intangible ideas and establish connections to innovative features. This concept becomes clearer when illustrated with a specific example.

Consider the remarkable Lotus Temple¬†in New Delhi, India, as a perfect example of an architectural metaphor. This magnificent structure mirrors the delicate beauty of a lotus flower, featuring 27 meticulously crafted marble petals. Drawing inspiration from a lotus’s natural form, the architectural metaphor creates a visually stunning building. It also conveys a deeper sense of beauty, purity, and spiritual significance. Therefore, architectural metaphors enrich the design process, transforming abstract ideas into tangible, awe-inspiring structures.

conceptual architectural drawings

11. Use and Space Requirement

Understanding the use and need for space in architectural design helps visualize the requirements in a better way. This architectural arrangement of spaces provides a tangible way for architects to grasp the overall form and the intended design concept. By engaging in this thoughtful spatial composition, architects gain insights into how different areas interact and support the overall design vision.

Moreover, this approach assists in identifying which spaces should be close to each other, fostering a sense of cohesion and functionality. It’s important to note that, during this stage, nothing is set in stone, so feel free to experiment with various arrangements and configurations. This creative exploration allows architects to refine and optimize the use of space for both practical and aesthetic purposes.

In addition to functionality, various factors influence space mapping, such as views, physical site features, and the distinction between public and private areas. Considering these elements enriches the spatial design and ensures it meets functional requirements. At the same time, it also helps it blend with the surrounding environment and cater to the users’ needs.


Architectural design concepts serve as the indispensable foundation in the process of designing structures. They provide a distinct lens through which architects approach their work, drawing inspiration from various principles, theories, or philosophies. A comprehensive understanding of these architectural concepts significantly impacts the architect’s creative approach, shaping the trajectory of their design endeavors. This influence helps in steering the final design outcome towards a unique and thoughtful realization of architectural vision.