Bachelor of Architectural Studies:
Portfolio Package

Preparing your portfolio

The Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University requires a portfolio package as part of your application to the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) program. The portfolio package is an essential part of the application—you cannot be considered for admission unless you submit a portfolio with your application.

*Note that the requirements for 2021 have changed from past academic years – please read the requirements carefully.

It is our intention that the application process to the Architectural Studies program be a creative challenge for you. The following text provides explanations, answers questions, and indicates where you can get additional information about applying to our program.

Your portfolio package must include, in the following order:

  1. Applicant description (please answer the questions in Slideroom, our online portfolio submissions platform);
  2. Written exercise  (250-300 words saved in PDF A4 format and uploaded on Slideroom);
  3. Visual work (between 4 and 8 images, consecutively numbered, saved in JPG format and uploaded on Slideroom).

1. Applicant description

When you enter Slideroom you will be asked a couple of questions including:

  • Your Full Name (the legal name used on your Carleton University application;
  • Your student identification number (nine digits starting with either 100 or 101).

The following three questions are to be answered directly in Slideroom:

Answer in 50 words of less
1. If you could visit anywhere on earth where would you go and why?

2. Thinking about the last thing you saw (television show, video, movie, performance) or read – what did you enjoy about it and what could have been improved?

Our advice: Just be yourself. The structure of our admissions process is to get important information more efficiently to our Admissions Committee so they are better positioned to fairly adjudicate the applications.

Answer in 150 words or less

3) A brief explanation describing why you are interested and have selected your preferred program (Conservation & Sustainability, or Design, or Urbanism) including your existing interests that make you a compelling candidate.

Our advice: Describe your understanding of your preferred program. We are looking for a diverse pool of applicants, where each one can bring something unique to our programs.

2. Written exercise: short essay

This written exercise is to be uploaded directly to Slideroom as a pdf.

You are to write a 250-300 word text authored for this submission (not an essay written for other school work). The essay should be written in the third person. Choose one of this year’s topics, and indicate at the top which one you have chosen: Topic 1, Topic 2, or Topic 3.

Be creative with the topic. While we require that text is written in the third person, you are invited to relate it to your life experiences. Remember to respect the word count.

Essay topic 1:
Carl Elefante stated: “the greenest building is the one that is already built”. Consider a building that is significant to you personally, or one that you know intimately.

Describe an imagined future for this place.

Essay topic 2:
Georges Perec in the book Species of Spaces writes: “In Paris, there is a street; in that street, there is a house; in that house, there is a staircase; on that staircase, there is a room; in that room, there is a table; on that table, there is a cloth; on that cloth, there is a cage; in that cage, there is a nest; in that nest, there is an egg; in that egg, there is a bird.”

Consider that spaces and experiences are nested (layered, embedded and connected), what is a nested narrative that situates you in the world?

Essay topic 3:
“Cities themselves serve to mediate between these various manifestations of intelligence — legal codes and copper cables, inscriptions and imaginaries, algorithms and antennae, public proclamations and system protocols — and to bring the “old” and the “new,” the ore and the ether, together into close contact. Clay and code, dirt and data, pasts and presents intermingle here.”

This quotation from Shannon Mattern’s Code and Clay, Data and Dirt (2017) paints a picture of cities as complex environments shaped by networks of communication and imagination. Please write a portrait of a city you know or a city of your imagination, describing what you see as an intermingling of different experiences — both social and sensory.

Our advice: Text will be adjudicated on content and clarity. Please take the time and ensure that your text is grammatically correct and free from spelling errors.

3. Visual work (8 pieces): 4 assigned subjects + 4 optional images

All images are to be uploaded to Slideroom as jpg files.

The portfolio is divided into two parts:

  1. four required drawings: the four required drawings are themed. Below are six themed options to choose from. Therefore, you should use this opportunity to make the themes you select a reflection of your interests and how you see the world.
  2. four optional images: the four optional images are intended to show other forms of creative work such as sculpture, digital work, photography, and may include dance, theatre, fashion design, textile arts, or making skills such as woodwork.

3 (a). Required Drawings

The four required drawings focus on technique (how well you draw), and creativity (how well you interpret the theme). It is up to the discretion of the applicant whether they use one technique (pencil drawing) or multiple techniques (watercolor, oil paint, and charcoal drawing).

Works can be mixed media. We are increasingly wary of fully digital work, so consider this technique sparingly.

Intentionally open-ended, the themes invite creative reflection rather than literal responses. Drawings are to be executed by hand and are to be prepared specifically for this application. These works should be in a variety of analog media (made by hand): drawing, painting, ceramics, sewing, etc. (for photography and digital work, please include those as optional images).

Please include the titles given above for each of these images. Images may be different sizes. Each topic is open to interpretation; if you are fascinated by and enjoy drawing a certain subject, you are welcome to use it for one of the images, making appropriate adjustments in response to the topic. Finally, because architecture is concerned with spatial relationships and qualities, not isolated buildings as such, we encourage you to favour drawings endowed with spatial and light qualities, a sense of rhythm and relationship between things, over drawings of isolated “things.” Assessors also take note of how you have chosen to draw a particular subject: choices in technique, line work, media, materials, all are important.

Our Advice: We are looking for non-literal translations of the theme. Start early and consider different interpretations, and then, after careful consideration pick the response that best reflects your creative thinking. Photograph or scan your work carefully. Make sure the space is well lit, with a monochrome background and that the photograph is sharp. Your hard work deserves proper presentation.

Drawing themes (Select only four themes from the list below):

  • Drawing Theme 1: “The world around you”
    – consider the broader social, cultural, political and environmental context
  • Drawing Theme 2: “Something made”
    – consider the material and actions that make an object or an idea
  • Drawing Theme 3: “Where you belong”
    – consider your community, and your group of peers
  • Drawing Theme 4: “A special gift”
    – consider a gift as something broader than an object
  • Drawing Theme 5: “A tiny detail”
    – consider a fragment and reveal it
  • Drawing Theme 6: “Re-considering the existing”
    – consider a present-day object or building and re-consider its future

3 (b). Optional Images

Applicants are also invited to submit up to four more images of their choice.
Optional images (images 5, 6, 7 and 8) can show any other forms of visual work– for example, ceramics, photography, graphic, stage or fashion design, cartoons or comic strips, images produced through digital programs, which you produced on your own or within the context of a class. You are allowed to include more than one image of a given work (such as a sculpture) on the same JPG file but in this case, be sure not to crowd the final image. Instead, place a key image of the work in question in the centre of the page with smaller images (showing other views of the same work) along the right margin. Keep in mind that portfolio assessors will review your images on standard computer screens so please refrain from unnecessary graphics such as frames and borders so as not to waste compositional space. In most cases, it is not necessary to include titles on the image itself. You are however invited to include a title and brief description of each image in designated boxes at the time of digital upload. The descriptive text may list factual information including date of completion, technique, media and materials, process, and size, and the work’s general subject or theme (please refrain from long explanations).

Your works and topic choices tell us about your interests, your critical and creative thinking, and your sensibilities. As such, please refrain from submitting drawn copies of famous artworks, internet images, or technical drafting exercises. Please provide a title for each of these images. (For example: Image 6: “Wrought Iron Sculpture.”)

** We do not accept videos, PowerPoint/Keynote presentations or web links.

Our advice: Like the text, show us what makes you a unique and compelling applicant. Many applicants have concerns that they are not strong visual artists. Use this opportunity to show your creativity in other critically important ways.

Our expectation

Use each image as an opportunity to reveal your sense of and approach to the world as well as your affinity for spatial thinking and design. This is your work—it may be abstract or representational, painterly or minimal, colourful or black and white.

You may ask: “What if I cannot draw that well? Do I stand a chance of being admitted?” While we do appreciate graphic and technical skills in the execution of work, the ideas and intentions that come across in your images are equally important.

Those who are admitted and join the School will have intensive courses in drawing and multimedia during the first year of our program and will be introduced to many drawing skills, media and techniques both analog and digital.

Submitting your portfolio

You will submit your portfolio to us digitally using an online portfolio program named Slideroom. Slideroom will be active starting in mid-December 2020.

Portfolio package format

Save your written documents (filenames: Applicant Description and Written Exercise) as PDF files.

Save your visual work (filenames: Image_1, Image_2, up to Image_8) as JPGs. Please scan or photograph carefully without distortion. When taking photos of your work, ensure that the work is well lit, using a good quality digital camera set at high-resolution. All images should be 300 DPI in either greyscale or colour. A simple scan or digital photograph of the work suffices: there is no need for frames or graphics.

Uploading your portfolio

To get started, sign up and make an account at Slideroom. The cost is $10.00 USD to be paid by PayPal or credit card.

Please sign up for Slideroom early. In the past a handful of students waited till the last minute to set up a Slideroom account and missed the application deadline.

Fill out the required fields as described above in the Applicant description section (Name**, student number***, program preference [Design, Urbanism, or Conservation and Sustainability]).

** Please note, your name should be identical to the name used when you applied to Carleton University, so we are able to match your portfolio to your application.

*** Please use your Carleton student identification number. This number is nine digits long and starts with either 100 or 101.

Upload your images. You are welcome to include a brief description of each image: title, date of completion, technique, media and materials, process, size of original, and one or two brief sentences on the theme or subject of the work.

If you need assistance with Slideroom, the help button is at the top-right-hand-side of the screen.

You can make changes to your portfolio up until the moment you submit. After that, no changes are possible.

  • It is not possible to make multiple submissions.
  • We no longer accept physical portfolios, however, in extenuating circumstances, an applicant may be given permission to submit one. The applicant must contact the Undergraduate Administrator in writing to outline the specific reasons prohibiting online submission.

Deadline, Prerequisites, Assessment and Offers


The deadline to submit your portfolio is March 1, 2021.

The committee reviews portfolios as they come in, so we welcome submissions in advance of the March 1, 2021 deadline. Should you have questions or require clarifications, you may address these to the undergraduate administrator at

Please note: should the due date fall on a weekend, these inquiries must be submitted no later than 4:00 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the due date.

Prerequisites and English language requirement

You are responsible for meeting all admission requirements for the Bachelor of Architectural Studies. If you will only be completing Math or Physics requirements in the summer, you will not receive consideration during the first round of admission offers. Once you have completed all academic requirements and Admissions Services have received your final grade reports, you may be considered for a space on a waiting list.

Please also note that if you are submitting an English Language Test in support of your application, you must submit the results before March 1, 2021 in order to be considered for an offer of admission.

Assessment and offers

Your submission will be assessed carefully in as timely a fashion as possible. Due to the high volume of applications and the competitive nature of the selection process, we aim to provide a decision before late-April 2021.

Contact Architectural Studies

Want to learn more about Architectural Studies? We invite you to join us on campus for an upcoming event, or visit the Architectural Studies website for prospective students.

You can also contact the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism by telephone at +1 613-520-2855 or by email at

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