Last edited 23 Oct 2020



A concept is an abstract or initial idea that can form part of a plan or strategy. It is often described as a type of mental representation. In terms of construction, a concept is generally the initial idea for a project or development.

A concept design represents an initial response to a brief. Some designers will differentiate between 'concept design' and 'scheme design'. In this case, the 'concept' is the initial design idea, whereas the 'scheme' develops the concept, taking on board more functional and practical considerations. Most projects now combine these two steps into the single stage 'concept design', or 'concept'.

Typically, stages that precede the concept, such as feasibility studies, or option studies, are not considered to be 'designs', even though they may contain drawn ideas.

Mike Davies, founding partner of RSHP has written:

Concept design requires that the architect grapples with the real issues of form and bulk, scale and mass and the generic appearance of a building within its surrounding urban context, resolving and encapsulating the principles of the scheme. Concept design implies an idea, or range of ideas, a development approach, a guiding concept and a design intent. It resolves the issue of 'what' and 'how much' and begins to set the stage for understanding 'how'. Concept design explores the resolution of the brief, implied or set out in the feasibility and assessment stage. The conceptual approach places the quantum of development intelligently on the site.’

To read more, see Concept architectural design.

Concept drawings or sketches are drawings, often freehand, that are used by designers such as architects, engineers and interior designers as a quick and simple way of exploring initial ideas for designs. They are not intended to be accurate or definitive, merely a way of investigating and communicating design principles and aesthetic concepts.

For more information, see Concept drawing.

Concept structural design proposals from a structural engineer might include:

Concept services design proposals from a services engineer might include:

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