Designers Tips and Tutorials

The architect’s tool kit: 7 essentials to have

January 12, 2016

The architect’s tool kit has evolved through the centuries, advancing beyond the mere use of pencil to encompass in our time digital means. But what are the must have tools for an architect’s kit?

One can trace the birth of architecture some 8000 years ago, when the human tribe moved away from caves to find shelter in round stoned houses. Nowadays, architecture presents itself as the building blog of modern societies, responsible for structural marvels that go beyond the mere functionality of shelter, to include efficiency and sustainability. To accommodate the new functionalities, the architect’s tool kit has expanded and a mere pencil, even though still a prominent tool, will not suffice.

In this series, we will present you a list with 7 principal tools. Of course, the list is not exhaustive, yet it sketches the primary material for inspiration and creation of masterpieces in architecture.

Let’s delve, then, into the architect’s tool kit!

Inspiration in an architect’s tool kit: magazines and websites

architect's tool kit_magazines

via Archi covers

Firstly, the architect’s tool kit must include inspiration. Magazines dedicated to architecture, construction and engineering can be very rewarding in sparkling inspiration. Flipping through pages with the work of other architects, while getting to know knew products, techniques and technologies in the trade, will be a very productive way to start the day.

What is more, the digital age offers an opportunity to find inspiration away from printed pages in blogs and websites devoted to the profession. Hence, subscribe to as many magazines and websites you can and find your inspiration to create a masterpiece. You might end up having one to many magazines brimming on your desk, but it is a small price to pay for inspiration!

A big desk for big projects

architect's tool kit

The Black desk by Sigurd Larsen

Speaking of desks, while it is not a prerequisite, it is very helpful for the architect’s tool kit. As it is often the case with architects, a day’s work would include multiple projects. Hence, having a desk to accommodate the various projects will be highly beneficial and time efficient.

Since you are getting a desk, it will be prudent if it’s large enough to fit the full size of your drawings. It wouldn’t be much of a help if half of your work is limping off the desk, would it? There is a great variety of desks in economical prices that will make a worthwhile investment for the architect’s tool kit.

Tool kit necessities: Tracing Paper

architect's tool kit

Tracing paper

While the desk might not be a necessity, tracing paper surely is. At any given time, an architect’s tool kit must have a roll of tracing papers. Often referred to as bum wad in architectural jargon, they are excellent for sketching ideas, preliminary detail drawings and quick roughs among other things. Of course, they are still satisfactory in doing their originally intended job that is to reproduce copies.

The quintessential pens

architect's tool kit

The quintessential pens

Obviously, the architect’s took kit must have pens. It is the quintessential tool for any architect since the dawn of the trade. Perhaps, the first architects didn’t use a technical drawing pen with a metal tip, but surely charcoal can be considered as such in that era.

Nonetheless, you need to have a set of technical pens that will enable you to sketch technical drawings, schematics and blueprints. There are four main characteristics to take into consideration for such pens. That is the tip size, the tip material, their ink filling systems and whether they are disposable or reusable.

Digital apps : a must for an architect’s tool kit

architect's tool kit

Trace by Morpholio Apps

While architects have traditionally relied on the fluidity of their pens to express their inspirations on paper, fragments of their ideas got lost from the translation of brain to paper. The digital era, then, comes to supplement the analog nature of the trade.

The hallmark of digital tools rests in their ability to showcase ideas in their purity, putting them in a format that enables others to visually appreciate them. There are apps for testing building performance like OpenStudio, or  design apps like PadCad. The list goes on and on, making digital apps a must for the architect’s tool kit.

The prudence of tape measure

architect's tool kit

Any kind of measuring tape by Sunghoon Jung

Even if there is a ready architectural plan for a pending project, it’s in the nature of the architect to sift every detail. They will measure everything, at least twice, to ensure they are as indented to be. Hence, to accommodate the prudence embedded in the profession, the architect’s tool kit should have an array of measuring tapes and devices.


architect's tool kit

The magnificent DSLR

Finally, a camera in an architect’s tool kit is another must. At first sight, its use will be quite normative; taking pictures of buildings or sites that have tinder inspiration. But, for an architect, those pictures might end up in presentations or have documentation purposes. Thus, the camera must be able to take high quality pictures.

While the current technology in mobile phones cameras ensures excellent resolution, DSLR’s give more options in controlling various function to get better outputs. In any case, a good camera is a must for an architect’s took kit.

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