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The scale in architecture, becomes a basic element when it comes to understanding reality. Whatever the goal of the design is, the scale is fundamental for the understanding of the spaces reflected in a plan or model.


In this post, we want to get into the scales of representation, guiding you on how they can be used by architects and urban planners. Read on to discover the ideal scale according to the type of representation!

¿What is a scale of representation?

The scales of representation in architecture are used to reproduce a figure or element of a determined size, to one equal, larger or smaller, on a plan or model. The scale is usually indicated by a proportion. It is, without a doubt, an informative and real link between the measures of representation observed in the sketch or model and the real world.



In this sense, we can find three different types of scales, which we will now comment on.

Natural scale

The idea is to represent the specific object, at the same size as in reality. It will be measured on a scale of 1:1. Therefore, it menas that one unit in the plan is equivalent to one unit in reality.

Reduction scale

It is a matter of representing the object in smaller measures than those presented in reality. It is the most used scale of representation in architecture, and some of the most used are 1:5, 1:10, 1:20, 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500, 1:1000, 1:2000 and 1:50000. In this way, when we measure our plan or model, we must apply the scale to discover its real extension.


Magnification scale

The aim is to draw the object, in larger measurements than those of reality, in order to understand all the elements of the piece in greater detail. The most commonly used scales are 2:1, 5:1, 10:1. The elements represented thus are larger in the plan or model than in reality. As in the previous type, when taking measurements on the drawing, we must apply the scale, to calculate its extension in reality.

More used scales in architecture 

As we have previously mentioned, the use of plans and models in the architectural field implies the need to represent objects of a larger size at smaller scales, so that they fit in the sketches. That's way the reduction scales will be the most used. Continue reading below to find out what kind of drawings some of them are usually used in.

1:50.000 to 1:2.000

This type of scale is used for the representation of large surfaces. It is commonly used for cartography, maps of urban areas, neighbourhoods or municipalities. It is recurrent for all types of urban planning proposals.


 cartografía escala 1:2000

1:1.000 to 1:500

These are projects that do not require large territorial extensions, but they do take into account certain contextual aspects when having an approximate vision of the territory. Their application is common for strategic decision-making about the use of resources or infrastructure.

1:250 to 1:200

It focuses on how the building is going to position itself on the ground. It is usually applied to a view of the general floor or the roof floor, highlighting compositional elements of the project. At the same time, it helps for the global reading of the proposal and to get a more approximate knowledge of the architectural object.

1:150 to 1:100

The idea is to include certain horizontal or vertical sections of the represented object, in order to consider in a more expressive way the size of the project. Some structural elements that can further define the representation will be included.

1:75 to 1:25

The aim is to generate a more detailed vision of the project. They usually present structural issues, materials, room's design or relationships between floors and surfaces. In this type of scale, it will be possible to indicate coatings and paints, as well as internal spaces with predefined furniture.

1:20 to 1:10

It is mainly used in the representation of furniture objects, both for the architects themselves and furniture designers. It is commonly used to explain of the functioning of the elements proposed in the plan, and the more detailed use of some of the materials.


1:5 to 1:2

When the focus is on the constructive aspects inherent to its components, this type of scale is the most appropiate it will communicate more technical aspects of the project. It is extensively used in more advanced stages of the project, and it will help to describe the practical operation of some elements. 



Now that you know the most commonly used scales of representation in architecture, we recommend you to take into account the specifications of your project to decide when to use each of them. This will help you to have an overall view of all the elements you need to analyze.

Master in Collective Housing UPM/ETH

The Master of Architecture in Collective HousingMCH, is a postgraduate full-time international professional program of advanced architecture design in cities and housing presented by Universidad Politécnica of Madrid (UPM) and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).  
Next edition of the MAS in Collective Housing will start in January 2021, the application period is already opened, and it will remain so till 31.12.2020 or until vacancies are filled. 
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