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Expressive Diagraming // Huiyuan Leland Li


One of the most valuable aspects of design+make studio is the ability to work directly with clients. As architects, we are trying to sell our ideas to the clients and convince them that our design is better than others. From my experiences working on three projects throughout the year, one of the most effective and precise ways to communicate with clients is through diagramming. To successfully transfer our ideas and concepts to both clients and larger audiences, it is critical to utilize the most appropriate type of diagram.


Crafted thoughtfully, diagrams can express a concept, explain various processes and inspire delight. In diagrams, we utilize the visual elements to present and sell our schemes and ideas.



The chart is a graphical representation of data. It is depicted by the connection of text and numbers to compare and contrast different categories. 


In the Fall semester, we worked with the Camp Property Committee for the Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri. Ultimately, we were most effective communicating with them through the use of charts. The chart allowed us to compare lots of information in a simple, attractive manner. To summarize each camp’s general performance, we created small graphics to represent their respective activities and rated them from “Poor” to “Great.” We then compared the results to competing camps and organizations in the area. Whether or not they wanted to hear it, these charts revealed the deficiencies of each camp and gave the committee a clear understanding of their situations. Though there was no building planned this year, the diagrams will help them make decisions in the future.


Plan and section diagrams focus on spatial relationships and circulations. They act as a sort of map or key to reference all the other information.


Plans and sections were fundamental to communicating ideas for a trellis structure located in the heart of the Flint Hills. Conceptually, the trellis functions as a “camera” that frames views to the surrounding environment. To graphically explain this idea to the client, a plan diagram described how the trellis’ design framed views through a series of spaces. A simple, linear arrow visually connects house, trellis, and nature. Like a camera, the trellis takes a snapshot of the landscape beyond.


Axons and perspectives are two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional model. Typically, an axonometric diagram is most revealing because it has a closer dimension to the real world.


Proposals for the ReStart Community room featured exploded axon drawings to quickly and clearly articulate the arrangement of space and components. The oblique projection of the diagram provides a clear perspective of the space to the audience. Clients can easily put themselves into the space and experience the surroundings. The exploded view of the furniture allows a closer view for details.

In conclusion, the chart basically compares data for analysis. In order to help clients make a decision. Plan/Section diagrams are a medium used mostly on spatial relationships and circulations. They can express information of scales, proportions and compositions. Finally, Axon/perspective diagrams are an easier graphic for some people to understand. Audiences can perceive a complex spatial organization through the portrayal of three dimensional objects in space. As an architect, diagrams are the key to bridge our mind to the audiences. In order to sell our idea and concept to the clients, we need to use the most effective diagraming method.

Written by Huiyuan Leland Li

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