How to conduct a Case Study?

When students begin studying  Architecture at a University, the first thing that they are supposed to become excellent at, is doing a documentation or a case study. It could be a case study of a small village, town, a villa, a bus-stop, or a high-rise commercial or residential building. A case study is an in-depth investigation of a single individual, group, incident, or community. Other ways include experiments, surveys, or analysis of archival information

Case Study

What is the purpose of conducting a Case Study?

As the term Case Study suggests, it is the study of a particular case that is similar to your topic of design project. Doing a case study will help you understand the various aspects that you have to consider while designing.

Literature Case study

Before you start with your live case studies, first of all do a complete literature case study. Literature case study consists of reading everything you can find on the subject. You can refer books in a library, use Google to look up research papers, check out Standard Code books and statutory laws or from technical journals.

A literature case study would give you a vague idea about your topic. There will be various questions arising in your mind after you are done with your literature case study. To find the answers to those questions, you will have to go for minimum two live case studies….

Always possibly go for more than two different case studies, because a comparative case study of two or more different cases is very important and helpful.

  1. While you are doing your first case study, say a Villa, go for a smaller Villa first so that you can figure out the basic minimum requirements.
  2. In your second case study, go for an extremely lavish Villa so that you are aware of the maximum requirements you could give.

(Being able to provide maximum or minimum requirements in your design is very important)

If there are some requirements that you haven’t come across while doing your case studies but you went through it while you were doing a literature case study, then try implementing those requirements  in your design.

Eleven most important things to analyze in any Case Study

  1. Environment and micro-climate
    Analyzing the surrounding environment and the micro-climate of that place will help understand the reason of the orientation of the structure, the kind of roof chosen and the materials used in its construction.
  2. User behavior and requirementsStudying the functioning of a particular place, say a Hospital, is very important; without which you will not be able to figure out the requirements and the area that should be allotted for each of the requirements.Talking to people working at that place (Hospital), will help you figure out if the requirements that are provided are adequate and he area that is allotted is sufficient for its efficient working.
  3. Utility and space enhancement
    Study of Utilitarian facilities of a particular case is also important. Various measures taken to enhance a particular space should be analyzed.
  4. Form and Function
    Analyzing the reason behind the form of that particular building…and how it merges with the surrounding environment. Form and Function go hand in hand. The form of the building should be able to convey the function of the building. A lot of Architects say “Form follows Function”.As an example, an institutional building should not end up looking like a museum or a disco.Some other Architects might disagree with that philosophy. They’d say that the function of a structure keeps changing but changing the form of the building everytime its function changes is not possible. They say, Adopt a “Universal Design Scheme”.
  5. Horizontal and vertical circulation
    Horizontal circulation consists of elements such as the corridors and lobbies. Vertical circulation includes elevators, staircases, ramps etc. The efficiency of the placement of these services should be analyzed.
  • Site Planning and Landscape detailing
    Refer to the Article on the blog “A Guide to Site Planning“, which deals with different aspects considered in site planning in greater detail.
  • Structural details such as Column and Beam Design, Steel  and Composite structures
    Understanding and analyzing the structural details is also important. For example, large span structures such as Auditoriums use trusses or heavy I-section steel beams and sometimes shell-roofing that involve construction of Ring beams whereas in small span structures, RCC construction is used.
  • Building Services such as Fire Alarm system, HVAC, Water supply systems
    The working of Fire Alarm system, HVAC and Water supply systems should be examined and their space requirements are to be analyzed.
  • Design detailing considering the Barrier-free environment
    Implementation of the Barrier-free architecture for comfortable access to disabled people. Most public buildings have mandatory accessibility systems for the disabled. Check out Guidelines to the Disability Standards for Access to Premises 200X. (Australian law)
  • Socio-economic profile of user group
    It might also be important to find out the socio-economic profile of the people using the services so as to determine their requirements and available resources.
  • Parking details and standards
    Measure the allotted parking area on site, say for ten cars, then calculate the average area for each car and compare it with the areas specified in TSS (Time Savers Standards).

Conducting a case study is hard work. Sometimes, it is so small, it could be done in days, but on other occasions, it takes weeks to document and compile all the data. It involves going on-site, meeting and taking to people, lots of traveling, plenty of photography, and some fun. It is the most important of assignments you might get as an architectural students.

This is where you learn from reality, actual stuff, as opposed to only theoretical knowledge. When I was learning law I took every chance I could get to learn from people actually doing the work I was aiming for, yes I did “donate” many hours to Winters & Yonker, P.A., but in the end is was worth every minute. Looking at places first hand  and documenting information would give you many insights and ideas and let you peek into the minds of professional architects and designers who have used years of experience and improvisation to design and create incredible structures.

Case studies of some of the famous Structures mentioned below:


 SPA – Delhi

VNIT – Nagpur

Thiagaraj Convention Center

TKM College of Engineering (Chennai)

42 thoughts on “How to conduct a Case Study?”

  1. The hardest part is looking for related literature especially when your research topic is new. It may be that difficult but it is surely unique when done and published.

  2. I’m an attorney and when studying law we spent the bulk of the time reading what is called caselaw which is existing decisions that forms our law. We are to find cases that support our clients’ fact scenario so that the decision is our clients’ favour.

    The parallel with architecture is uncanny as architects use existing structures and environments to form the basis for a new project. As the saying goes, “no need to reinvent the wheel” but it’s good to evolve from existing structures. Likewise, the law evolves.

  3. Case Study is itself a very necessary work to be done before appearing to anything to be done. It’s just a sample report before appearing for any cases to get it solved properly.

    A good blog to read on and to be shared amongst all…..


  4. For me, Case Study is really important on anything you are planning in order to have a well planned and a successful outcome. Doing a Case Study on anything gives you an idea for the pro’s and con’s of that. I’m glad there’s such an article like this!

  5. Case studies are a great way to plan lots of things, not just architectural projects. It’s almost like doing the work without actually doing the work, so you can identify sticking points, potential problems and lots more.

  6. i am beginning my thesis in B. arch.
    n so m requiring a hypothetical site of about 3 acres here in india with the climate warm and humid.
    topic is performing arts centre in kerala.
    how do i find and fix a hypothetical site?

  7. Thank alot

    As im in 2nd year of b.arch

    I have not much studed about much detailed

    Like casestudy,site analysis’

    It will help me

    Thanks u again

    U can see our 1st year architecture 1st month exibition video on youtube



  8. hi !!!I’m a 1st year b.arch and v hav 2 do a case study on an architect’s firm . cud u tell me wat all i shud include in my case study???v hav to do a case study on a bungalow also…

  9. i am a first year b.arch student..i have got a case study to do..can u please guide me by teling how many sheets should i present..please guide soon as posible..ur site helpd me to knw how to do case study but i also want to know how many sheets should it include..please guide me..

  10. Number of sheets doesn’t matter until you pin down your inferences correctly …… for a first year student i guess a max of 1 or 2 A1 sheets or a ppt of less than 20 slides should be enough in terms of quantity …. make sure you put the point across 🙂 🙂

  11. Thank you for some other wonderful article. The place else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal manner of writing?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such information.

  12. hello,i am second year b.arch student,i have to do case study on luxury primary school . cud you please tell me what all should i include in my case study ???and also case study for the kids school…………

    • For a project like that, you should visit a minimum of two schools. One would be a high profile school and the other one could be a private low budget school or a government school. After you casestudies you will be able to draw comparisons between the two and that should help you come up with your list of requirements. let me know if you have any other questions.

  13. I am doing by 3rd year b arch n this time our project is based on housing for artist Wht all shld I keep in mind while designing for artist n der family member who are non artist

  14. Nice bolg. Thank you.
    I am barch student. I would like to know how to do comparison study of any two building. Now I have done with case study of a gallery (ngma Bangalore). I have done sub case study as well as literature study. But I want to know how exactly should I do comparitive study. More than write up comparison, How well can I present it

  15. I am doing thesis on Orphan children and oldage home combining both generations together so as to create marvelous socially conceptual design.
    Help me with bestest case study from which I can learn alot to create spaces for both.

  16. I am final year in srm rampuram school od architecture and doing thesis on township. So could anyone help with sum reference for case study and literature study as soon as possible

  17. hello.i have taken up the topic EMBASSY(any country) Design for my final year thesis. i was wondering if you could help me out with the plans for casestudies,since i hear it will be quite a problem with all the security.

    • Hi Pooja,

      It is not an excellent topic for design. You should have chosen something that would let you explore your ideas. Embassy building would look like a commercial block…nothing interesting… this is not something people havent seen. I do not think you will get permission for a livecasestudy of any embassy. No one would let you in. So if you still have time, i would suggest you choose a more design oriented topic.

      Good luck!

  18. hey i am doing thesis on low cost building materials and technology.i wanna do commercial project on this topic.
    can you suggest me project name or case study on this topic.

    thank you

  19. Hello. Im studying b.arch 4th year. Im supposed to do a thesis case study, on Automobile industry i.e a car manufacturing plant. Can you please help me regarding this, as what all i should include and what steps i need to follow to complete my case study. Please reply me asap.
    Thank you.

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