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Floor Plans

A floor plan is essentially a slice through a building level viewed from above. It is to scale and shows the buildings internal arrangement.  It shows the relationship between rooms, as well as any other physical features at that level of the structure. The level of detail on the floor plan would depend on the stage of the project. Each floor level of the building requires its own plan and the standard level it is taken from is 1.2m from the floor level. Anything below or above this point is dotted or dashed, for example a low level window or the remaining treads of a staircase.  

Site Plans

A site plan captures the whole of the site and is a to scale aerial view. It captures the whole building, landscaping, car parking, all boundaries of the site and a clear access point.  It also includes its neighbouring context including adjacent buildings and streets which allows for the project to be seen in the local context.  A location plan is also needed, which is the same concept as a site plan but at a much smaller scale to show more of the context.  Two roads are required to be seen on a location plan, and as its name suggests is used for locating the project.


An elevation is a two-dimensional drawing of a vertical element of a building, whether it an external or internal elevation.  An exterior elevation shows the whole side of one building and is used to show the proportions of the building, including the window proportions, any door positions and any details including guttering and rainwater pipes.

 Cross Sections

A cross section is similar to a floor plan in that it takes a slice through a building.  A cross section is normally vertical and will reveal the build-up of external and internal walls and floors in relation to the rooms inside.  It also allows a view of how the rooms vertically stack, which is useful to understand how elements like drainage and services can be fitted.

Isometric and Axonometric Projections

These type of drawing give a three dimensional depiction of the building in question, where the site line is perpendicular to the plane of projection. These are useful to be able to see more of the building than can be shown in one of the drawings above.

Detail Drawings

You may often see a circle around an element on a plan or section which points you towards another drawing.  This will be a detail drawing of that element, and it aims to demonstrate how the various materials of a building come together.  This gives the contractor enough information to build the detail, in terms of the specification of materials, the amount of materials and how to install them. An example of this would be how a floor and wall junction will meet together or how the head/cill of a window interfaces with the wall.

Concept drawings and sketches

Concept drawings are quick drawings that intend to communicate overall ideas and approaches that help to drive a project.  Sometimes these are just used within the design team to share ideas and options before the approach has been confirmed.

Computer-aided vs Hand Drawn

At Halliday Clark we utilise both hand drawn and computer aided drawings.  We feel hand drawings are still integral in the design process and in some cases gives a client or planner a more accessible image. We also use it as a quick way to convey our ideas.  The computer aided design (CAD) software allows us to create a more accurate efficient drawing that can be more easily revised, and these can be taken forward to the later stages of a project.

Presentation Drawings

Presentation drawings are used to communicate the drawings in a more realistic way.  Shadows, textures, people, trees and landscaping are all added to the drawing to help to show how the spaces created may work in reality and how they would feel to be occupied.  Demonstrating light, scale and atmosphere are important aspects of presentational drawings.

Working Drawings

‘Working drawings’ is a common term which encompasses all the drawings that are used for the construction of a building. These may be drawings from other consultants, such as a structural engineer.  The drawings will include the location of all the construction elements, whether this is shown on elevations, sections or floor plans. Also included in working drawings are assembly drawings which reflect how the different elements fit together, and component drawings which show additional details at a larger scale.

We hope this article has given some insights into the different architectural drawings we create.  Halliday Clark can produce these drawings for all different kinds of projects and we’d be happy to discuss these with you in more detail if you’d like to get in touch.