Tools of the trade

Drawing board
A smooth, flat board on which paper can be mounted and which can often be adjusted in height and angle to suit the architect during drawing and tracing. Digital tools have dramatically changed the way architects plan buildings, but drawing boards are still in use in many offices, especially during the design stages.

Cameras are used to record information on a building site before the design process begins, as well as to record and document progress on the site and to document the final result.

Reference books
For practising architects (and students!), books on architecture are an important resource – they offer both practical/academic information about the architecture profession and visual inspiration.

Fineliner pens come in different thicknesses (from 0.18mm to 0.7mm), which allows architects to use them to illustrate depth in their drawings.

Fountain pens
The essential tool for rough sketches!

Colour pencils
Perfect for shading or to illustrate the different zones in a building design.

Architects use a range of pencils with different grades of hardness and softness, depending on the sketching requirements.

Drafting tape
Architects use drafting tape to stick their blueprints and drawings to a work surface. It’s easily removable, even from delicate surfaces, and doesn’t leave a sticky residue.

Measuring tapes and electronic measuring devices
From measuring existing structures to checking work in progress, taking accurate measurements and assessing dimensions is essential on a building site. Aside from traditional metal tape measures, newer technologies that use laser light have made this process faster and more precise.

Bumf (butcher paper) or tracing paper
This is translucent paper on which to do rough work, allowing for the layering of design sketches to explore and develop better solutions.

Printers and scanners
Essential for scanning, printing and reproducing an architect’s designs. Scanners also allow for rough drawings to be scanned for manipulation using digital software.

Model-building materials
Architectural models allow students and practising architects to present a 3D version of their design. Models are usually built out of a variety of cheap materials, including cardboard, paper, wood and glue.

Model-building tools
Architectural models allow students and practising architects to present a 3D version of their design. Cutting boards provide a smooth surface with clear grid lines to allow model materials to be cut accurately, while special cutting knives and straight-edge tools allow for clean, straight cuts.

Digital software
Digital technology has transformed how architects plan buildings. CAD (computer-aided design) software and drawing software like Photoshop help them create precise and detailed architectural drawings. Hand-drawing is still important for exploring and formulating ideas, however, especially in the early stages of a project.

It’s a basic but essential part of any architect’s toolkit! Most architects have a favourite type of sketchbook they carry to building sites (in fact, almost everywhere), whether it’s to jot down meeting notes or make quick sketches of concepts or ideas.

Drawing racks
Essential for an organised and efficient architecture office. Racks and hangers allow for safe and organised storage and easy access to a large number of architectural plans and drawings.

Certificates and degrees
There are a number of different qualifications you can study towards in the architecture field … find out more here.

Project boards
Project inspiration in one place – physical samples, materials, swatches, photographs and more…

Project files
Where the records of all the processes of a building project are kept.

“I think of architecture as a piece of clothing to wrap around human beings.”
- Toyo Ito

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