Parti Diagrams


A parti diagram is a quick and simple sketch which presents an overall concept for a design project or a key aspect of the design such as massing, programme, circulation, spatial hierarchy, public/private zoning, transparency/solidity. A parti will be unique to each project as it is derived from the specific context and constraints of the site, brief and programme.

In the book ‘101 Things I Learned in Architecture School’, Matthew Frederick explains that a parti diagram “is most often expressed by a diagram depicting the general floor plan organisation of a building” and that “the design process is a struggle to create a uniquely appropriate parti for a project”.

“Views Between Blocks” plan parti diagram


Clear, simple diagrams are key to communicating design ideas, particularly at the early stages of the design process. They can be used as references throughout the design process as a design becomes more complex, to ensure that the original idea or organising principle is not lost.

Architecture students learn about the importance of diagrams (and in particular the parti) in understanding and communicating the fundamental aspects of a site and building during design reviews at university. It is often the case that a well-considered design can be more easily communicated through a series of simple diagrams than through verbal or written presentation – if done well, diagrams can speak for themselves!

“Private Shared Courtyard” plan parti diagram


We received so many great entries into our March 2021 Parti Sketch Competition. When reviewing the range of submissions, our judging panel was impressed by the diversity of diagrams – in terms of both visual medium/technique and design approach.

We want to share some of these with you as we believe it will provide a useful resource for architectural students, practitioners and those outside of the profession who want to find out more about what architects do. We have broken these down into three themes based on the type of diagram produced – Plan + Section, 3D and Narrative.

“Contained Inner Space” sectional parti diagram


These are the most common form of parti, usually conveying a key element of the design that drives the spatial arrangement of a building.

Changing Tides / Tim Scott

“The project focuses on providing public realm that encourages people to slow down and take notice of the world around them – in this case, the changing tides of the River Avon”. Instagram: @tim.p.scott

Peter Zumthor’s Thermae Vals / Maream Merza

“One of the most unique buildings I have ever studied…”

“…Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals is a building designed completely for the experience of using baths that are at different temperatures inside rooms that have natural sunlight slitting through the thin openings in the ceiling of the full concrete design…”
Instagram: @merza_projects

Open Air Grotto Theatre / Michaela Li

“I’m currently working on an open air grotto theatre for my final masters project. Inspired by the semi-autobiographical novel The White Goddess by Simon Gough, the theatre is placed on the island of Mallorca where Simon’s great uncle, the poet Robert Graves resided. The forms were taken from geometries found in a painting called Fond Marin II by Joan Miro, who was a good friend of Graves, and make use of Mallorca’s incredible topography and geology. Very much a work in progress!” Instagram: @michaela_li_arch

A Typical Day in Our (Lockdown) Life / Shona Sivamohan

“The diagram captures a typical day in our (lockdown) life, confined within the four walls of our living room…”
“…It maps the routes of my partner and I as we move through the space in our everyday routine, adapting the space as we switch between live and work.” Instagram:

Solid-Void / Sara Madbouli

“This is a parti section diagram for an old uni project looking to rethink space and ‘typical floorplates’. The idea was to introduce more open space for collaboration. The building was all about virus research incidentally!” Instagram: @saramadbouli

Ground Floor Connections / Jack Greening

Instagram: @jwgarchi

Growing Dalston / Nylda Hamchaoui

“This concept represents a gradual transition in both activity and space as I allocate the various levels of greenery within the site proposal for a mixed-use scheme with an irregular but intentional form.” Instagram: @TheArchitecturalExperiment

Making Home / Nylda Hamchaoui

“A visual representation of how I attempted to arrange the various spaces of a co-housing mixed-use proposal within new and existing boundaries of the site.” Instagram: @TheArchitecturalExperiment

Le Cor-Moo-Sier / Fiona Hunt

“Resurrecting this gem for an entry into the @bibostudio.comstudioltd #itspartitimecompetition… The time I drew a parti diagram of the gallery space I was designing, only to discover I was designing a cow. (Discalaimer: eye, tail and udders not part of original gallery design!) It’s also a great summary of the heavy in situ concrete and contrasting lightweight timber spaces if you look beyond the comedy value! P.s. We named him Le Cor-moo-sier 🙄” Instagram: @fiona_hunt2

Open Centralized Connection Coint Bounded by Enclosed Spaces / Ioana Rus

Instagram: @rusiioana

River Re-animation Route / Alec Wells

“This diagram comes from a current project I am working on in Bath aiming to reactivate a disused brownfield site opposite the river Avon” Instagram: @mr.awells


Often the best way of conveying an idea for the massing (external form and volume) of a building or user experience is through a 3D, axonometric or perspective diagram.

The Journey / Gemma Duma

“The journey – central feature circulation and specific guided views across the city.” Instagram: @gemlouise_art

Dom-ino House? Dom-ino Diagram? / Sepehr Seyyedesfahani

Instagram: @sepehr.seyyedesfahani


Sometimes the best way of communicating a design or the design development for a project is through a series of diagrams which tell the story or progression of the design.

Truss-cilation / Kaspar ter Glane

“The brief for this student project is to design a studio in the dune landscape of Terschelling…”
“…Because it is a protected landscape, the structure needs to be lightweight and potentially demountable…”


“…Additionally the client wants something that is expressive and evocative of the site…”


“…I think the key elements of the design therefore are the trusses…”


“…And this is the key design idea for them.” Instagram: @kasparit0

Fan Building / Cecilia Ferrari

“Two of the many things that southern Europe (Italy in particular) has to offer are porches (for when it rains) and balconies (perfect for the growing of geraniums and hanging your undies to dry 👙)…”


“…So I’ve been thinking loads about how to create a space which encompasses both, whilst minimizing overshadowing in the already dark and often dreadful winters of northern Europe (sigh)…”
“…Here is the process leading up to the last image for the @bibostudio.comstudioltd parti-time competition: a parti diagram of a ‘fan building’, where long balconies are stacked and the plans recessed moving upwards to create sheltered terraces that let daylight into the interiors…”


“…Vertical circulation plays a key role in the concept, as it allows the plan to remain open and flexible for the many interactions that the little black dots in the first image have 👩‍❤‍👩 Thank you @bibostudio.comstudioltd for reminding me that diagrams are fun 💖.” Instagram:

A Facility for the Homeless / Francesca Naddafi

“These parti diagrams explore the sensitivity of the idea of ‘too much outside’ and ‘not enough inside’, breaking down social barriers through deconstructing the physical barrier of the wall. Through an integrated process, the scheme acknowledges the ‘growing’ process as a tool for social interaction and a means of facilitating the homeless man’s re-entry into society.”

Instagram: @frvncescan