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Portfolio Advice – University of Reading

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Portfolio Advice


A portfolio is a record of your projects, and aims to tell the story of a body of work and represent your architectural ideas.  It should show how your work has developed from an initial sketch or idea, through to a more refined form of representation such as a final drawing or sculpture.

Portfolios for Interview:

When considering a portfolio for use in an interview for an architecture degree programme you should think about what your portfolio communicates to the interviewer. It should demonstrate your flair for creative thinking in whichever medium you have chosen, as well as your 3D understanding and technical ability. Ideally, it would contain a mixture of 2D and 3D pieces.

If you have an interview at the University of Reading we will talk through your portfolio, discussing your approaches to drawing and design. We are as interested in how you developed your ideas and why you chose to produce the work as we are in the final outcome. Process work is just as important as the finished product, as this demonstrates your design development and critical thinking which is fundamental to architectural practice.

More advice on what to include in a sketchbook can be found on our sketching pages.


What to include in an interview portfolio:

A portfolio is an expression of your creative thinking, and so it should reflect the breadth of different media which you have experimented or worked with, as well as the depth of your skill in specific forms of representation. It should also include work done in your own time, as well as from any creative course you are currently taking or have taken.

The following list shows the wide range of different creative skills which we are interested in seeing at an architecture degree interview at the University of Reading.

Your portfolio might include any of the following:

  • Sketchbooks/process work
  • Photos of work in progress
  • Creative writing
  • Precedent studies or case studies
  • Concept sketches
  • Hand-drawn sketches of places, spaces or buildings
  • Life drawing
  • Photographic studies
  • Collage or mixed media works
  • Paintings
  • Abstract art works
  • Analytical drawings / mapping drawings
  • Orthographic drawings (such as plans, sections & evaluations)
  • Measured drawings
  • Computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Images made in Photoshop or other software
  • Graphic design
  • Product design
  • Website design
  • Original small scale 3D work: sculpture, installations, models
  • Photographs of physical models
  • This list is not exhaustive, if you have work which shows your creative skills which is not listed you should still bring this along.
  • This list is not a checklist - we do not expect any one applicant to have all of these forms of representation in their portfolio.

Physical portfoliosPortfolio

The size of your portfolio will be determined by your chosen layout and your intended audience. Traditionally, physical portfolios are produced in an A1 format, however, if you are doing a smaller presentation then A3 can be used. It is important that you present your information clearly, and carefully plan and edit the content.

You should include preparatory work or consider bringing along sketchbooks to support your portfolio. We want to see originals of work whenever possible including small models, paintings, drawings or sketchbooks as scanning and reprinting work will always result in a loss of quality.

If your 3D work is portable, or you have test models, bring along these physical pieces as well. You can bring along portfolios and sketchbooks which you have prepared for art or design subjects you are currently studying or you have studied in the past. This could include; art projects which are works in progress, physical objects which have been made in product design or drawings made on graphics courses.

If you are invited to come to the Architecture building for an interview at the University of Reading you need to bring along a physical portfolio. Do not bring an electronic portfolio on a USB. Do not rely on showing us a version of your portfolio on a laptop or another device.

Digital portfolios for interview

If you are requested to provide a digital portfolio, ensure that your work is scanned and compiled into a single document in PDF format. It is important to consider how your portfolio will be displayed. You can enhance and edit images of physical models using a programme such as Adobe Photoshop or Apple Lightroom.

You'll need to adjust the quality, resolution and size of the images depending on whether they are to be viewed on a screen or projected at a much larger size. Make sure you take photographs of your work in good light and save versions at a high resolution. Ensure that your drawings are clearly labelled, but do not add borders or effects which reduce the size of the artwork being displayed.


 Examples of Architectural practice portfolios




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