Graphic design uses both art and technology to visually communicate messages. The messages that graphic design communicates can be found in many industries. One of those industries is architecture. According to Britannica, architecture is “the art and technique of designing and building”. It has practical and expressive requirements, and the role of graphic design in architecture helps architects meet those requirements. In addition, graphic design helps architects enhance various aspects of their design process. Some of the ways that graphic design is applied in architecture are through visual presentations, architectural drawings, branding and identity, signage and wayfinding, marketing, sustainability graphics, and exhibition/installation design.
When it comes to visual presentations, graphic design helps architects tremendously. Graphic design allows them to create renders, sketches, and 3D visualizations that bring architectural concepts to life. Also, this enables their clients and stakeholders to envision and understand the complex ideas of different architectural projects. For example, check out this rendering of the Canada Permanent Trust Building in Toronto, Canada.
This building was built in 1931 and designed by architect Henry Sproatt. In addition, the Trust building was constructed in the art deco style. This style used symmetrical and geometric designs that were simple and pleasing to the eye.
Here is a 3D visualization of an apartment building villa that was created using 3D computer graphics software.
The next way architects use graphic design in architecture is through architectural drawings. In architecture, drawings are used to create things such as floor plans, elevations, and construction details. These things help the architect communicate the structural and spatial aspects of a building. Additionally, graphic design is used in this process by helping the architect make sure that their drawings are accurate, clear, and visually appealing. You can see that in the image below. The architect is making designs and layouts for a project.
Now, let’s discuss branding and identity. Graphic design plays a significant role in the branding and identity of an architecture company. If an architectural company wants to distinguish itself from others in the industry, it needs to have logos, business cards, websites, etc. The company would hire a graphic designer to create these things. By using graphic design here, an architectural company creates a visual identity that reflects its values, style, and expertise. For instance, look at the logo of this Japanese architecture company called Nihon Sekkei.
Moreover, check out the business cards and branding created for this architectural company.
Another way architects use graphic design in architecture is through signage and wayfinding. Architectural signage tells people where to go, the name of a specific building, Wayfinding is the diverse ways that “people … orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.” With this being said, graphic designers are needed to help architects visually guide people through complex spaces. And they need to create a positive user experience, thus, ensuring intuitive navigation. This is done by using typography and creating symbols and graphic elements. Below, you can see examples of architectural signage and wayfinding.
To promote the services and projects an architectural company has, they need marketing which requires graphic design. Graphic design is utilized to create marketing materials such as brochures, portfolios, and advertisements for the company. In this regard, graphic designers help architects communicate their design philosophies, skills, and project portfolios. This helps the architects and their firms attract potential clients and collaborators.
Also, here is an example of architectural advertising for a company called Peterson Architecture.
Moreover, graphic design in architecture also plays a role in promoting sustainability graphics. Graphic designers create diagrams, infographics, and other data visualizations that architects use to convey vital environmentally sustainable features of a building or other projects. For instance, an architect could have a graphic designer create data visualizations that detail the water conservation methods used in an apartment building.
To illustrate, here is a video (by Surviving Architecture) on sustainable architecture. In the video, the instructor is creating a diagram that shows the implementation of green architecture concepts.
Furthermore, graphic design is employed in architecture through exhibition/installation design. Graphic designers work with architects to help them create visually engaging displays that showcase architectural concepts, research, or historical information. These exhibits combine graphics, typography, and multimedia elements together to create an informative and visually striking design.
Below, you can see footage from the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy.
By incorporating graphic design principles, architects can communicate important aspects of their designs to clients, stakeholders, and the public. Graphic design in architecture adds an artistic touch to architectural projects and helps bridge the gap between abstract ideas and tangible design outcomes. Embracing graphic design as an integral part of the architectural process leads architects to successful projects, stronger client relationships, and a distinct brand.
For more graphic design knowledge, check out this article on technology’s effect on the graphic design industry.