How to Ace Your Architectural Design Intention Assignments Like A Pro

November 16, 2023
Billy Anderson
Billy Anderson
Architectural Design
Billy Anderson is a distinguished architect and scholar. With years of experience in both professional practice and academia, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the field of architectural design and education.

In the world of architecture, design intentions are the seeds from which magnificent structures grow. They are the purposeful visions that shape spaces, mold forms, and breathe life into the built environment. Architectural design intentions are not just fleeting ideas; they are the guiding stars that lead architects through the intricate maze of creative expression, problem-solving, and realization. Let's embark on a journey that delves deep into the heart of design intentions and their profound impact on completing your Architectural Design assignment and architectural education.

Architectural Design Intentions: The Genesis of Every Design

Before a building rises from the ground or a space takes form, it begins as an idea, a vision, a set of intentions. Architectural design is the alchemical process of transforming these intentions into a tangible, functional, and aesthetically pleasing reality. Intentions in architectural design serve as the North Star, guiding every decision, every detail, and every stroke of the pen. They are the catalysts for creativity and the cornerstones upon which the built environment is crafted.

Architectural Design Intention Assignments

Setting Up Space: Where Intentions Take Root

The architectural design process commences with a profound emphasis on "setting up space." This initial stage marks the genesis of design, where students begin their exploration of the spatial aspects of architectural creation. However, what truly distinguishes this phase is the central role of design intentions. Here, students delve into the profound understanding of how their creative visions seamlessly translate into tangible spatial experiences. Intentions breathe life into the spaces they design, and they manifest themselves through the orchestration of light and shadow, the arrangement of spaces, and the careful definition of user experiences. It's a pivotal moment in architectural education when design intentions bridge the gap between abstract concepts and the creation of purposeful, functional layouts.

Review of Exercise 1: Body Drawings - Refining Intentions Through Human-Centered Design

As students navigate the world of architectural design intentions, they encounter a critical phase during the review of exercise 1, specifically when scrutinizing body drawings. It's at this juncture that design intentions seamlessly converge with human-centered design principles. In a quest to refine their architectural intentions, students are tasked with creating spaces that harmonize with the human scale. The challenge extends beyond aesthetics; it encompasses the essence of functionality and comfort, ensuring that their intentions are not just aesthetically pleasing but also intrinsically and functionally harmonious. The design process, at this point, is about empathy for the end users, understanding their needs, and aligning intentions to create spaces that serve a practical purpose. Through this process, intentions are distilled, fine-tuned, and adjusted to align with the needs and comfort of potential occupants. It is the art of designing with a profound understanding of the human experience, rooted in empathy, that elevates design intentions to a higher plane.

Group Organization: Bridging Diverse Intentions

Collaboration is the lifeblood of architectural practice, and the educational journey seeks to instill the value of merging diverse intentions into the architectural tapestry. Group organization exercises play a pivotal role in nurturing the skill of collective intention alignment. Students learn to navigate the intricate dynamics of working alongside peers, each contributing their unique design intentions to the project. The process is not about subsuming individual intentions; rather, it is a dance of respect and harmonization. It's about finding common ground, transcending differences, and creating a fertile ground for innovative, collaborative solutions. This skill becomes an invaluable asset for students, one they will carry with them into their professional careers. In the real world of architecture, teams are often composed of professionals with distinct backgrounds, experiences, and design intentions. The ability to bridge these diverse intentions, respect varying perspectives, and synthesize them into cohesive designs is what sets outstanding architects apart.

Site Visit: Intentions Meeting Real-World Realities

A transformative experience awaits students at the pivotal site visit stage. Here, intentions encounter the unforgiving realm of real-world constraints and possibilities. Students step beyond the classroom's protective confines, venturing into the field to understand how their design intentions must adapt and respond to the context, environmental factors, and site-specific characteristics. The site visit marks a moment of profound transformation when intentions, previously rooted in the abstract, become grounded in practical architectural practice. Designers must navigate the real-world complexities, learning to balance their creative aspirations with the practical realities of the site. It is this process that molds intentions, reshaping them to align with the practical requirements of architecture while preserving the essence of creativity. The site visit instills the skill of contextual sensitivity, a hallmark of exceptional architectural intentions.

Review of Project 1, Assignment 1: Analysis - Refining Intentions in Response to Context

The analysis phase represents a crucible where students meticulously assess the site's attributes, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. It's in this phase that intentions undergo a rigorous examination. As students scrutinize the context in depth, intentions evolve and adapt to align with the unique conditions of the site. The creative vision remains responsive to the real-world surroundings, and intentions become finely tuned instruments for addressing contextual challenges. The analysis phase reaffirms the importance of ensuring that design intentions are not static but dynamic, capable of adjusting to the ever-changing context. It emphasizes the need for architects to be responsive to the world around them, to design with the site in mind, and to ensure that intentions are always in harmony with the surrounding environment.

In the evolution of an architectural designer's journey, these initial stages are where intentions are sown, refined, and anchored in the fertile ground of practicality and human-centered design. They set the stage for the remarkable transformations that follow, as students advance through their architectural education, learning to translate their refined intentions into visionary design solutions.

Architectural Design Intentions: From Concept to Realization

Architectural design is a transformative journey that takes intentions from the realm of abstract ideas to the tangible, functional, and aesthetically pleasing realities that shape the world we inhabit. This process is where the true art of architectural design comes to life—translating intentions into functional, harmonious, and inspiring spaces.

Project 1, Assignment 2: Sketch Problem - Interiors - Breathing Life into Intentions

With a solid grasp of spatial intentions, students advance to the challenge of designing interiors. Here, design intentions take center stage in crafting functional, aesthetic, and purposeful interior spaces. In this assignment, students confront the multifaceted aspects of interior design, including material choices, lighting, and layout. It's a pivotal juncture where intentions metamorphose into tangible, experiential design features.

Talk: The Art of Communicating Intentions

The "Talk" phase serves as the podium where students articulate and present their design intentions. It's a moment of self-expression, critique, and feedback, ensuring that the art of communicating intentions is honed. Effective intention communication is a vital skill in architectural practice, fostering clear, cohesive design narratives.

Review of Project 1, Assignment 2: Concept Development - The Evolution of Intentions

Following the presentation of their initial sketches, students receive feedback that guides them in refining and amplifying their design intentions. The concept development phase is a critical stage in crystallizing intentions into the comprehensive blueprint for their designs.

Project 1, Assignment 3: Sketch Problem - Sections - A Deeper Intent in Vertical Exploration

In the "Sections" assignment, students journey deeper into three-dimensional design intentions. The focus here shifts to the vertical organization of designs. Intentions extend to how different elements and spaces cohesively coexist within the overall architectural structure. It's a phase that challenges students to think not only in terms of horizontal space but to consider the vertical dimension with equal intent and precision.

Architectural Design Intentions: Visualizing the Vision

In the realm of architectural design, intentions are the guiding stars, and as the creative journey unfolds, they are the compass that ensures every design decision leads toward a purposeful and harmonious realization. "Visualizing the Vision" represents the next phase in this journey, where intentions evolve from abstract concepts into vivid and detailed representations, capturing the essence of what's to come.

Desk Crits: Intentions at the Microscopic Level

Desk critiques are personal and invaluable sessions where students receive targeted feedback for refining their intentions. These sessions ensure that their designs align closely with the original vision and that their creative intentions are preserved throughout the design process.

Review of Project 1, Assignment 3: Sectional Drawings - Intentions in Full Display

The review phase for sectional drawings is the litmus test for the quality and progress of students' designs. Intentions are brought to the forefront, and students must ensure that their designs effectively represent and communicate their intended spatial experiences.

Project 1, Assignment 4: Sketch Problem - Axons - Intentions in Three Dimensions

In the "Axons" assignment, students explore their design intentions in three dimensions. The focus here is on axonometric drawings, a form of representation that unveils the three-dimensional qualities of their designs. Intentions are palpable in the intricate, detailed axonometric drawings as students convey their intended spatial experiences from a unique perspective.

Talk: An Ongoing Discourse of Intentions

Once again, the "Talk" phase provides a platform for students to present their axonometric drawings, discuss their design intentions, and receive valuable feedback. This stage is an iterative process of intention clarification and improvement.

Review of Project 1, Assignment 4: Axon - Intentions Illuminated

The review phase for axonometric drawings evaluates the quality of representation and clarity. Here, the proficiency in communicating intentions is appraised, ensuring that students effectively convey their design visions to their audience.


Architectural design intentions are not mere blueprints; they are the heartbeat of every project. They guide the creative process, tethering it to reality and communicating the designer's vision. Through exercises, critiques, and assignments, students in architectural education embark on a journey of intention refinement. They learn that architecture is not merely about constructing buildings; it's about constructing experiences, shaping lives, and defining the future through thoughtful, innovative, and meaningful designs.

As students progress from setting up space and analyzing sites to designing interiors and creating intricate drawings, their intentions are continually challenged, refined, and elevated. These design intentions serve as the bedrock for their future careers, where they will contribute to the creation of spaces that resonate with the needs, aspirations, and experiences of the people who inhabit them. In this way, architectural design intentions not only shape structures but also shape the future itself.

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