5 Essential Tools For An Architect

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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When it comes to the construction of buildings, one important person actually plays a massive role in the completion of the project. Architects are responsible for designing new buildings, building extensions, and even alterations to already-existing buildings. Aside from these, architects are also responsible for giving advice on how to restore, renovate, or conserve old buildings. They are also responsible for planning where the electrical wirings, access doors and panels, and bathroom layouts will fit in.  

However, architects have to use several different tools to measure straight lines, perfect lines, and precise angles. In completing a project, an architect can use four main types of tools on a daily basis: drawing tools, measuring tools, cutting tools, and computer software. With the advent of technology that keeps on evolving lately, it is undeniable that architects can now use technology as a tool. Between these four types of tools, there are over a dozen different tools that an architect uses planning, calculating, and modeling their building plans.

So, whether you are thinking of becoming an architect, or you are already an architect who’s wondering what types of essential tools you should have, then you’re in luck because we have put together a list of 5 essential tools for an architect that can be used on a daily basis that we ranked from the least to the most important. Read on to know more about them!

#5: Easy-To-Carry Bag

There are actually a lot of names for this bag– man purse, satchel, messenger bag (and even murse). Having an easy-to-carry bag containing the other essential tools that an architect must have is important, especially since architects often travel to meetings and construction sites. You can fit your sketchbook, pens, measuring tape, scale ruler, 12” roll of tracing paper, iPad (or any other gadgets that you use), and whatever notes and other drawings that you need to keep carrying around for a week. Here are the different types of bags you can use in your architecture journey;

i. Satchel

Men's Messenger Bag 15.6 Inch Waterproof Vintage Genuine Leather

Mens Messenger Bag 15.6 Inch Waterproof Vintage Genuine...
  • DURABLE & WATERPROOF: Men messenger bag is made of superior crazy...
  • PLENTY ROOM FOR ORGANIZING: This leather messenger bag has 9...
  • REMOVABLE & ADJUSTABLE STRAP: Shoulder strap of canvas messenger...
  • DIMENSION: The external dimension of this briefcase is 15.1"L *...

The NEWHEY Men’s Messenger Bag is a great bag that architects can use in business, architecture school. It is made of horse leather that has a waterproof and waxed canvas to protect it from damages. This bag also features excellent storage options for architect tools and everything in between. The comfortable strap makes it easy to carry around. At a very reasonable price, you get a durable and highly functional bag.

iI. Rucksack/ Backpacks

Roll Top Backpack Men & Women JOHNNY URBAN

Backpack Men & Women Black - JOHNNY URBAN"Aaron" from...
  • STYLISH ALLROUNDER: The Johnny Urban "Aaron" roll top backpack is...
  • SUSTAINABLE MATERIAL: Both outside & inside material are made...
  • SUBTLE PADDING: Shoulder straps, back & bottom of the bag are...
  • LAPTOP POCKET: The 15.6 inch laptop compartment is fully padded...
  • VOLUME: 18 Litre rolled, 22 Litre unrolled; Dimensions: 45 x 30 x...

This bag is great for those architects who carry heavy loads. It is known for its ability to add more space when it is needed. For architects, the size and flexibility of a bag are the two essential things, considering the number of materials and tools that are necessary. The Johnny Urban Aaron Roll Top features a simple, compact, and waterproof bag that is highly durable and stylish. It is made from recycled plastic, making it eco-friendly and sustainable without compromising the quality and style.

iII. Briefcase Bag

Victorinox Architecture Urban Brunswick Laptop Briefcase

Victorinox Architecture Urban Brunswick Laptop...
  • Secure zippered pocket holds up to a 15.6" (40 cm) laptop
  • Sized to hold a 10" (25 cm) iPad, tablet or e-reader
  • Rear pocket converts to a sleeve for sliding over wheeled handle...
  • Removable, adjustable shoulder strap
  • 5x17.5x12.5

The Victorinox briefcase is a perfect bag for architects and architecture students because of the enormous amount of space, perfect for fitting a laptop, architect tools, school products, and documents. It has two large compartments on the front and several other pockets on both sides that give extra storage for different tools. This bag also features a removable and adjustable shoulder strap making it convenient to carry around. The water-resistant zippers on exterior pockets protect your things.

iV. Duffle Bag

Leather Architect Men's 100% Leather Duffle Bag

Leather Architect Men's 100% Leather Duffle Bag Mid...
  • Leather weekender duffle bag featuring rounded top handles,...
  • Multiple interior utility pockets.
  • Dimension- 22'"' x 11'"' x 12'"' (L X W X H)

Leather Architect is a reputable brand that is known to manufacture some of the best leather products, and this duffle bag is not an exception. It’s has a great of pockets to organize your things better and also comes in two colors. Considering the quality and durability of this bag, the price is quite reasonable.

#4: IPad/Tablet

Please take note that it doesn’t really have to be an iPad. However, you might find an iPad a very handy device. Other tablets such as the Microsoft Surface are also just as handy and are really handy when it comes to taking notes and keeping track of projects and schedules. But if you’re a member of the Apple Cult, then feel free to carry around an iPad instead of other tablets.

Architects spend a lot of time going to tons of meetings, and having a gadget with you, whether it is an iPad or not, will greatly help you in documenting these things. You also won’t have to carry a notebook or paper, and an iPad or tablet keeps all of your notes in one location. Moreover, with the use of an iPad, you can utilize the app PlanGrid for viewing architectural drawings on construction sites

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB)

Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray...
  • 12.9-inch edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display with ProMotion, True...
  • A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine
  • Face ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay
  • 12MP back camera, 7MP True Depth front camera
  • Four speaker audio with wider stereo sound

The Apple iPad Pro has an excellent build quality and one of the most loved tablets on the market. It is 12.9" in screen size, which makes it the largest iPad that Apple has. If you're an architect and are looking for a large display tablet, then you should consider buying this one. This Apple iPad Pro features a new A9X that is faster and can easily perform intensive tasks without heating up or breaking down. It is important to note that this tablet is Wi-Fi only and can be cumbersome to some people because of its large size. But if you need a large display, then this shouldn't be an issue.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-P580NZKAXAR 10.1-Inch 16 GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab A SM-P580NZKAXAR 10.1-Inch 16 GB,...
  • 3 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM
  • 10.1 Inch wuxga Display
  • 8Mp rear camera + 2Mp front camera

Samsung is one of the best and commonly used Android tablets for the reason that it provides a quality tablet experience. If you are an architect or an architecture student and are looking for a dependable device to use in the architecture field, then you should definitely consider this high-quality tablet.

It is lightweight and easy to carry around, with a screen size of 10.1 inches, making it relatively easy to hold compared to the Apple iPad Pro. The Samsung Galaxy Tab A comes with standard ports like the headphone jack and a micro USB port for charging. There is also a micro SD card slot if you need more storage space than what this Samsung tablet provides, which is 16GB. The storage is expandable up to a maximum of 128GB.

#3: Tracing Paper

Just like the easy-to-carry-bag, this tool has many names such as trace, scratch, trash paper, scratch paper, trash, and even bumwad! Here’s a fun fact about tracing paper: There has actually been a century-old war among architects– and it’s all about the color of tracing paper!

While most folks prefer the standard white trace, there are other architects who prefer the buff color, and some really rebellious architects actually prefer rock canary yellow trace. If you want it simple and clean, stick with the white tracing paper. Aside from scanning well, it can likewise be used for presentations. You never really know what you might need to use a roll of trace for doing very quick process sketches. Here are our two best tracing papers;

Canson Foundation Tracing Paper Pad for Ink, Pencil, and Markers

Canson Foundation Tracing Paper Pad for Ink, Pencil and...
  • The most translucent tracing paper
  • Suitable for pencil, ink, and markers and is resistant to...
  • Contains a smooth surface
  • 50 sheets of 25lb / 40g
  • Acid free 9"X12" paper

The Canson Foundation is a unique tracing paper that comes in a pad and not in the common rolls. It has 50 sheets of tracing paper with the sizes 9 inches by 12 inches. The tracing papers are highly translucent and have a smooth surface. The pad is lignin and acid-free and is resistant to scraping without allowing the ink to go on the other side of the tracing paper. It can be used with any type of writing material like pens, pencils, and markers. The papers are not easily erasable and are also smudge-resistant.

Bee Paper White Sketch and Trace Roll

Bee Paper White Sketch and Trace Roll, 24-Inch by...
  • White sketch and trace rolls
  • Perfect for detail work or rough sketches
  • For use with all dry media
  • Available in rolls only
  • High transparency

The Bee Paper White Sketch is one of the best tracing rolls that contain a high level of transparency and easy to use. Normally, tracing rolls would seem heavier than the pads, but they are quite lightweight, with this particular one weighing about 1 lb, making it easy to carry around. The paper allows pens to write on it smoothly without letting the ink bleed through. This paper rolls up to 50-yards long with a width of 12-inches. The roll makes a 1-inch core that can easily fit in your bag without taking up too much space.

#2: Pens

One common myth that most people have about architects is that they use pencils very often– and this is actually wrong. Most architects use pens, and there are three pens that are more used on a daily basis. 

i. Pentel Sign Pen

This sign pen is extremely versatile and can help you make both very thin, precise lines and broader heavy lines. Take note, however, that since this pen is a felt tip, its tip will start to wear, and it will be harder to achieve thinner lines. So, this kind of pen is most handy when it is brand new. Our recommended pentel sign pen would be;

Pentel Arts Sign Pen Touch Fude Brush Tip

Pentel Arts Sign Pen Touch, Fude Brush Tip, 12 Assorted...
  • The richly saturated colors are fully blendable with water and...
  • Tip can be diluted with water to get a full range of values
  • Great for a variety of techniques, including feathering, cross...
  • Wear-resistant, pressure sensitive, flexible tip
  • Will not dry out if left uncapped and can be cleaned with a paper...

This Pentel Sign Pen Touch is a high-quality pen that is easy to work with and durable. It has a small but durable and soft nib that quite flexible and beginner-friendly. The pen comes in a pack of 12 different colors that include orange, green, yellow, pink, purple, gray, red, gold, black, brown, light, and dark blue.

The colors are very vibrant, and the ink is much more saturated, unlike other brush tips pens. Furthermore, the saturation is consistent throughout the drawing, and also, there is no color fall experienced.

iI. Pilot Razor Point Pen

While you have a pentel sign pen that’s capable of making thin lines, it is still best to have a fine point pen also. You can use this pen like a pencil since it makes a mark similar to a pencil, except that you don’t need to have this sharpened. Also, you can even write notes with this pen. A great pilot razor point pen for architects would be;

PILOT Razor Point Fine Line Marker Stick Pens

PILOT Razor Point Fine Line Marker Stick Pens,...
  • PILOT RAZOR POINT MARKER PEN: This extra fine point marker pen is...
  • HIGH-PRECISION WRITING: Pilot's classic marker pen has a strong...
  • DESIGNED TO DELIGHT: If you love the Razor Point fine line marker...
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: We've been making pens for over 100 years....
  • POWER TO THE PEN: Pilot makes exceptional writing instruments to...

The Pilot Razor Point stick pens boast smooth and high-precision writing due to the strong fiber point and a tip design that ensures clean and quick-drying strokes. It comes in a pack of 12 pens, with each pen having an ultra-fine (0.3mm) plastic point, which is supported by a metal collar for durability purposes. With such a fine point pen, you will only be required to apply light pressure to achieve smooth and vibrant writing.

iII. Red Pen

Having a red pen is very important for an architect. A red pen can be used mostly for ‘redlining’ drawings– it means that an architect uses a red pen for editing a set of drawings. The red pen works well because the lines made in such color are easy to see. With the help of red pens, another architect or an intern can take the redlines and then make revisions on a computer. There are so many red pens in the market, but our favorite one is;

PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Gel Pens

PILOT G2 Premium Refillable & Retractable Rolling Ball...
  • THE IDEAL PEN FOR OVERACHIEVERS: The smooth writing, long-lasting...
  • LONGEST LASTING, REFILLABLE GEL INK: Proven to be the longest...
  • PERECTLY SUITED FOR YOU: If you love the original Pilot G2,...
  • TRUSTED QUALITY: We've been making pens for over 100 years....
  • POWER TO THE PEN: Pilot makes exceptional writing instruments to...

The Pilot G2 gel pens is a great pen for writing, drawing among other many creative projects. It is one of the few retractable gel pens that are refillable. It also comes in a wide range of colors, with the red one being our favorite. It has a 0.7 mm tip that is convenient to use. This retractable pen is less likely to stain your things, and the clip makes it easy to attach it in either a spiral notebook or trace paper, to avoid losing it.

#1: Toughness

This isn’t exactly a tool that you can buy. However, this is the most important tool that an architect should have. Some architects are born with this, while some develop this one. Working as an architect is a very difficult job, that’s why an architect needs to be tough. Architects have to present their ideas to other people, and it is just expected to receive criticism. An architect is forced to face criticisms from architecture school until he/she continues into the profession. This profession isn’t for the weak-hearted, so if you’re really into this kind of work, you need to toughen up in order to be able to face criticisms.

If you’re an architect who needs help with your construction project, Access Doors and Panels is ready to help. Visit us at https://www.accessdoorsandpanels.com/architects/.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.