In reality, buildings are much larger than the plans used to construct them; therefore, we must reduce the drawing size appropriately in order to maximize readability and communication. In doing so, drawings can be studied comprehensively. Scale is perhaps the most common element in any architectural drawing and absolutely necessary to learn in architecture school. In order to convey a building accurately in terms of proportion and dimension, a proportional measuring system known as scale is used. In the built environment, it is an international standard that is utilized throughout all phases of a building from design to construction.
Below are some points of consideration that I normally abide by when drawing to a specific scale:
– The larger the scale of a drawing, the more information is needed to depict that particular drawing. Most likely, construction drawings will have a larger scale than design drawings.
– During the initial states of a design process, the scale of a drawing should be appropriate to the purpose of the intention of communication. I normally use 1:200 in metric scale or 1/16”=1’-0” in architect’s scale if the building is not too large to initiate my design idea. Other times, I use 1:500 if a building is larger than usual. These scales allow me to explore various design solutions without becoming distracted by all of the details in the initial stages of my design process.
– When the design ideas are clear, the scale of drawings should gradually increase allowing us to incorporate more information into our design.
I like to organize scales in architectural drawings into two types:
-1/8”=1’-0” close to 1:100 in metric scale works well in initial thought processes and works well for small scale buildings.
-1/16”=1’-0” close to 1:200 is good for the initial design process such as functional configuration or spatial articulation in section drawings.
-1/48”=1’-0” close to 1:500 works well for site plans or the placement of buildings on the site relative to its context. This scale can also be used for form-finding or even to explore three dimensional studies through physical models.
– 1/165”-1’-0” close to 1:2000 is a scale for figure ground drawings. Most likely, this scale will be used to compare the relationship of a designed building to urban morphology.
– 1/4”=1’-0” close to 1:50 in metric
– 1/2”=1’-0” close to 1:20
– 1 1/2”=1’-0” close to 1:10
– 3”= 1’-0” close to 1:5
– 1”= 1”-0” is 1:1
Content edited by Robert Konzelmann