A parti diagram is a rough drawing, doodle, or diagram used early in the schematic design process to represent a design concept.

These diagrams accompany a verbal or textual elaboration.

Learning how to draw such diagrams is key in visual communication.

We start with design elements such as point, line, form etc.

Following which, we perform operations on these elements that aid in telling the story.

In this post, we will cover the following:

- Overview of graphical elements used

- Various types of parti diagrams

- Ways to communicate visually in your architectural diagrams.

What is A Parti Diagram?

The objective have parti diagrams is to narrate a story to the viewer using diagrams made up of visual elements expressed in a specific way via operations.

They are used to represent the following concepts:

- Form
- Program
- Circulation
(people, wind, light etc)

You can create parti diagram with graphical elements such as

- Point
- Cross
- Line
- Arrow
- Polyline
- Implied Form
- Form
- Color/Pattern

Operations you can perform on these graphical elements to tell a story include:

- Contrasting
- Connecting
- Grouping
- Sequencing
- Mapping
- Scale
- Opacity
- Color
- Position
- Direction
- Movement
- Lineweight
- Line style
- Union
- Subtraction
- Array
- Offset

For more details, see the image below.

Overview of Parti Diagrams

Types of Parti Diagrams

 Parti diagrams can be classified into the following categories: form-based, flow-based as well as dimension based.

These diagrams can represent tangible and intangible design strategies via a representation of plan, section, elevations and axonometric view of the building(s).

Usually, a series of such diagrams tell a story of the life of the building.

There are three kinds of parti diagrams:


Parti diagrams that fall under form-based are best used to show geometry, composition, scale, structure and context.

Example: Massing, project plan layout, boundaries, outlines.


Parti diagrams that are flow-based typically aids in explaining circulation, program, light, ventilation, views etc. Best for anything that has origin and destination, direction and a path.

Examples include circulation diagrams and plans/sections with view corridors.


These diagrams usually show a metric across a dimension (or a axis that can be measured) over another metric like time to show progression such as cost, length, distance, positions in coordinates. Examples of these diagram include graphs and charts.

32 - Parti Diagrams #2.png
Types of Parti Diagrams - Form-based, flow-based, dimension-based

Visual Communication

Visual communication is key to the architectural parti diagram.

Consider how to guide the viewer to your intended message through these 7 design principles.

Be it though the intentional use of thicker line weights and darker colours to create emphasis and hierarchy or the alignment of elements like lines and forms to a certain axis, the freedom is yours

7 Principles of Visual Communication


With the knowledge of the fundamentals of parti diagrams, I hope you get a better idea of how you can express your architectural concepts better.

Let me know in the comments if I missed anything and feel free to share more resources on parti diagrams. Enjoy parti-ing!