How To Do A Case Study Architecture

Study Design Process

Studying the architecture of a building through a case study requires an organized and structured approach for it to be successful. The design process should begin with preparation that includes researching the building being studied and the contextual environment around it. This should be followed by developing a clear perception of the design approach to be adopted and a statement of the project’s intentions. In the beginning phase of research, multiple persons should be consulted and data relating to the building should be gathered. This includes topographical and site maps, archive material surrounding the building and photographs to capture the existing fabric of the building. Evidence of the building’s function and people’s experiences should also be obtained.

preparing fieldwork

Fieldwork should be undertaken in which the architect compares what they have imaginatively developed during the preparatory phase with an on-site study of the building. The on-site visits should be planned beforehand to include an exploration of the building’s internal configuration and external setting. During the visits, physical measurements should be taken as evidence to support the case study analysis. The fieldwork phase should be concluded by preparing a series of sketches, diagrams and plans to be used to discuss the architect’s findings.

Analysis of Site

The data and findings obtained during the preparatory and fieldwork phases should be analyzed to produce an overall review of the building design. By this stage, the architect should have devised a physical investigation of the building that supports the aims and objectives of their study. The analysis should begin with a thorough study of the building’s immediate context and environment, which should include an understanding of its overall shape, orientation and materials used. There should be a detailed investigation into the building functions, which can be assisted through observation and interviews being conducted with the occupants. After conducting the analysis of the building site, the architecture can be compared to historical buildings of its kind to review the changes taken place in the design of such buildings over time.

Design Assignment

Once the analysis of the building is completed, the design assignment should be established. This should involve evaluating the existing design and discovering what design objectives have been achieved. In this phase, the architect should identify any design errors or deficiencies and develop solutions for them. Here, a creative approach should be adopted to resolve design issues and a process should be set out which shows the chosen design/ solution and why it is effective.


After completing the analysis and design, the architect should prepare the final presentation of the findings. This should include an effective visual representation along with complete descriptions and background of the building. The presentation should tell the complete story of the case study architecture in a way that effectively communicates the process and objectives of the study.

referencing Sources

When concluding the case study, all the sources consulted should be accurately referenced. This should be done both within the presentation and written evidence gathered. Sources must be referenced to ensure that the research has been conducted in an ethical, accurate and comprehensive manner.

Record Keeping

After preparing the presentation and referencing sources, the architect should keep consistent record and archival of all findings, work and materials. This should include photographs, plans, drawings, notes and other data gathered for the case study. This record is important for future reference and adds accuracy and value to the work.

Understanding the Brief

It is essential for architects when undertaking a case study of architecture to thoroughly understand the brief/ purpose of the study that is set out from the outset. Having a clear purpose has been set out before the research begins is key to successful handling of the case study. Understanding the scope and extent of the design project is crucial to the success, as it sets out the expectations and parameters within which the study will be conducted.

Building Regulations

Adhering to building regulations should always be at the forefront of any case study of architecture. Architects must always be aware of local building codes and national regulations that may need to be observed while constructing and renovating any property. As such, when conducting a case study, any design/ renovations proposed should be checked against the applicable regulations to ensure that they are compliant.

Budget Planning

Another aspect to consider when undertaking a case study of architecture is cost and budgeting. While studying the building, the architect should consider the cost implications of any changes made to the design. This could include both the cost of materials and the time taken to complete the project. Being aware of the cost implications of any proposed changes allow the architect to assess their feasibility and provide an overall economic review of the case study.

Legal Responsibility

It is important to bear in mind when undertaking a case study of architecture that architects are not only responsible for the design, but are also responsible for any legal and contractual issues. Thus, it is essential that any proposed changes within the case study should be checked against any relevant contracts or regulations before they are implemented. This will ensure that the architect is legally protected and that any proposed changes are not in breach of any existing legal obligations.

Communication Skills

Communication is key when it comes to successful case studies of architecture. It is essential that architects maintain a constant dialogue with clients in order to ensure that their expectations are met and that any potential issues are addressed promptly. Establishing a clear understanding of the client’s expectations and needs is key to success when conducting the case study and will allow for a smoother process.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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