Construction is an industry where planning and forethought really matters. While there is a role for improvisation in certain cases, the reality is that most major construction projects unfold according to a meticulously arranged design. Where this design concerns the actual shape of the final product, we call it architectural design.

What is architectural design?

An architect is a professional responsible for the design of a structure. They’re there to ensure that the building will be physically sound, attractive, and a pleasure to use and inhabit. As such, architects have a varied skillset: they not only need extensive knowledge of physics, economics, and building regulation; they also need a creative mind, problem solving skills, and an eye for impressive visual flourishes.

How does it work?

Not so long ago, all architecture would start on a physical, literal drawing board. Today, most professional architects make use of digital alternatives. Once a building has been put together in a 3d software package, it can be presented to clients before final approval. This way, the process can be much more iterative: small tweaks can be easily made here and there, and the design can be refined through back-and-forth collaboration.

Material use

In 3d modelling software, buildings can be made of polygons and pure mathematics. In reality, the building will need to be made of real-world materials. It’s the architect’s job to establish what materials will be needed, and to recommend certain choices based on cost and suitability. They might find themselves constrained by local planning law, or by the wishes of the client.

Tools and construction plans

Once a design has been finalised and materials have been chosen, the construction project manager will need an idea of what tools are required. In some case, special heavy equipment will need to be brought in, like cranes and excavators. Much of the actual work of construction, however, is typically performed using a small number of hand-operated power tools. Packout boxes from Milwaukee and other high-end companies provide workers with the tools they need on a day-to-day basis, allowing those tools to be easily transported and protected.


It is critical that new buildings are safe once they’re finished – but architects also owe a duty of care to the people who are actually doing the construction. They need to be aware of building codes, and ensure that they are complied with. They also need to make project managers aware of any complications and additional hazards which might inhere in a particular design.

About the Author

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Mirko Humbert

Mirko Humbert is the editor-in-chief and main author of Designer Daily and Typography Daily. He is also a graphic designer and the founder of WP Expert.