Developing your own strategy for preparing your portfolio

Welcome to Archipedy, your go-to source for portfolio related questions. 

Today, we’re diving into portfolio and sharing our insights with you.


Before you start preparing your portfolio, your initial strategy should focus on the most important thing that will influence, support, and ensure that the whole process goes well.


In the article “How to Write a Statement of Purpose”, we talked about the importance of this letter and stressed focusing on your statement of purpose first before starting your portfolio.

One of the most important reasons for this is to create your own strategy after carefully considering and evaluating every possibility. When we do this, our portfolio will be consistent with the other documents you put in your application file.


I’m sure that one of the biggest challenges you experience many times is to take the first step in a job. When taking this first step, we always have doubts, sometimes do not know how to start, and get worried because we are not able to predict what will happen in the future. One of the reasons for this is that we know that the rest of the application will be built on your first step. For this reason, trying to fully understand what we are going to do, drawing a road map for ourselves, and creating a strategy that identifies us, is a good way to encourage yourself to take the first step safely and provide a more tangible guide to how to handle the rest of the application. 


So, how and with what can you develop this strategy, unique to you by inspiring who you are and how you want to progress in your career?

Then let me start and explain.


1- To identify yourselves as an architect and to fully reconsider your background.

First of all, we need to understand that all of the things we have done in the past, including the creative environment we were in, the seminars, and the courses we have taken, are just factors that determine the way we want to follow, and why we are interested in certain things and that we want to process in that direction.


That’s why you need to be aware of who you are as an architect and what your background is when deciding your strategy for the portfolio. Our background, our architect personality, our personal values ​​, and our interests in architecture are one of the most important factors that will determine the foundation for our portfolio. Because the schools you will apply to will be the ones that you can make more personal connections in general and personally by matching your architect personality.


More importantly, the greatest factor that has influenced the shape, form, development, and way of thinking of projects you have produced so far is probably the years of education and the interactions you have in this period of education; that is, it is your unique architect spirit and you need to reflect it in your portfolio.


Understanding yourself and your architect background while creating your strategy will greatly support your portfolio strategy. And please do not forget that schools pay particular attention to this when reviewing applications because they want to admit students who follow their goals, ways of teaching, views, and perspectives on architecture. In other words, a school that gives priority to Parametric Design and wants to develop in this direction will not want to admit any student who has a passion for working on regional architecture and wants to complete her or his projects in this direction, just as you would not prefer them.


2- The category and shape of the designs we have made so far (Design Type)

Another issue you need to focus on while developing your strategy is the form of projects you have done so far. So if the architectural style you are interested in is inspired by the “International Style” architectural movement and the style of projects you put into your portfolio is utopian Constructivism, this will display a great disconnection between your portfolio and your architect personality.


At this point, I would like to remind you again that your portfolio should tell the person you are, that you introduce a statement of purpose visually supported by the project and different drawings. Thus, we eliminate the possibility of disconnection in your applications and present yourselves as a whole. In short, your portfolio should show that there is some kind of connection between your approach to architecture and our way of thinking. If we do this, you will move one step ahead among the applicants who do not make this connection.


3- Set a goal

There should be a goal that we set when choosing the Master of Architecture programs and preparing application files. This goal can change in the later stages of our lives of course and this is very normal. But at least for now, if you develop a portfolio strategy consistent with your goal in this portfolio process, you will have the chance to show it with your projects.

This is certainly remarkable to committee members while reviewing our portfolio. Your goal can be in a way of very specific or wider ones, like “I want to design traditional, architectural buildings that only fit with the materials and building styles found in the areas where I design buildings”. The reason for this is that the committee members will always ask if you have a goal or the path you want to follow, and if you have it, that will give you a great advantage to start thinking about how to prepare for your portfolio.

But in reflecting this goal into our portfolio, we must be neither very specific nor very general. If you are very specific and put projects in the same style, the committee may think that we are not open to new ideas, and develop your architectural vision in one direction.


4- The graduate schools you will apply to

One of the most important points we need to note while developing your strategy for your portfolio is to get a sense of what kind of schools you apply to.

First of all, the educational approach of every school to architectural education is not the same, not all schools offer the same courses and curriculum in their architectural education, and every school does not accept hundreds of applications from other countries.

If we apply to universities like Harvard, MIT, Columbia GSAPP, and Yale, then we should know; many people like you apply to these schools, and there is a strong competitive environment for these schools, so you may not have much of a chance with a mid-range portfolio.


If you follow another way and decide to apply only to universities with specific programs such as Parametric Design or Design + Build, you will have to fit your portfolio a bit into these programs to show that you are interested. 


In short, researching and understanding what schools you apply to, what they look for, what kind of curriculum they provide, and what they focus on will give us a chance to show that we are interested in the education provided in these schools in our portfolio. In other words, you will be able to establish a link between your portfolio and the school you apply to.


Thanks for reading! We’re always here to answer your questions and provide the latest updates. Stay tuned for more.

We hope we can make Archipedy a place where we can be more active and share information with each other.

See you in our next article.


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