Academy evening session – creating portfolios

On Tuesday 18th October we held our second two-hour skills session for this year’s cohort. Six of our Ambassadors, from a range of disciplines and professional levels, joined us on Zoom to present a portfolio of their choice, answering questions related to their work, projects and professions. Each offered best-practice insight on clearly presenting design work for different purposes.

Architect and Director Andrew De Silva (Das) from David Miller Architects, and Rhianna Weston, a MSc student in Climate Resilience and Sustainable Architecture from the University of Liverpool, each gave fantastic introductory presentations on putting together an architectural or urban design portfolio respectively.

Das spoke about the importance of including a range of media, personal interests and creativity in a university application, whilst Rhianna explained how balanced page layouts and a clear narrative contribute to ‘telling the story’ of a project.

Millie Evans from Maccreanor Lavington, and Anna Harris from MF Architects, both Part 2 Architectural Assistants, presented their master’s projects from university. They really gave our young people a flavour of the breadth and quality of work produced by architecture students at master’s level. Stylising drawings, page hierarchy, reflective descriptions, including a variety of images, and understanding your audience were all discussed.

Millie Evans from Maccreanor Lavington showed the cohort her portfolio from university

Architect Louise Taylor, from BDP, also presented her fantastic master’s thesis project, undertaken at the University of Sheffield whilst in practice. This communicated the value of not overcrowding a page, explaining ideas through diagrams, and using bold images to give the portfolio a strong visual identity. Louise also introduced the group to conservation architecture.

And finally, Darren Smith, Senior Architect at AECOM, took us on a journey through his career to date. This included the portfolio of sketches, drawings and photographs he used to apply to university, images from his architectural education, and technical drawings that his team are currently working on. Darren’s wide-ranging experience across sectors highlighted the different avenues a career in architecture can take.

A huge thank you to our speakers, and to the young people for listening and asking questions. This session was invaluable for participants putting together portfolios for university applications, as well as those unsure of their future career paths.

For participants, remember Anna’s ‘four c’s’:


What to include, showing a range of skills, not showing everything from a project but selecting the best images.


The layout of the pages, using a grid structure, and lining up images. Software can be useful for this but also good old-fashioned rulers.


Setting rules so that pages look cohesive. Having the title, subtitle, and any captions inconsistent size, location, and font on each page.


Including personality, probably the most important for a portfolio to get into university as the other skills are all things that can be learned. Use the portfolio to show your interests and hobbies, get creative with the graphic styles, and tailor the portfolio to best show your own work rather than using a generic template.