Undergraduate Thesis Topics in Architecture


There is more to architecture than designing buildings, though many people go into the field for that reason. In addition, there is an array of scholarly subjects to study and report on. For those graduating with an undergraduate degree in architecture, research needs to be done to complete a thesis. Topics can focus on architectural history or some aspect of contemporary architecture.

Colonial Architecture and the Locals

  • Architecture in colonial cities is as much influenced by foreign colonizers as it is by the land's original inhabitants. One idea for a thesis is to discuss the ways a colonial city's local inhabitants influenced the making of that city. The thesis can focus on one city, like colonial Bombay, or discuss the colonial cities built in a particular geographic region, like the Caribbean islands. Discuss the ways Western architectural techniques merged with local ones and the methods colonizers used to obscure local contributions and make a colonial city completely their own.

Technology and Public Interest

  • For large architectural projects, public participation in the community is required in order to reach decisions as to how projects should be carried out and the beneficial and detrimental effects the projects may cause. Explore the ways in which contemporary architects and city planners use technology in order to increase public participation in a project or make it easier to spread information about a project. Consider new architectural technology programs and compare them with low-tech options, like hand-drawn designs, to see where each is more effective. Technology is becoming more common among architects, but in terms of grabbing public interest, less technical drawings may be more important.

The Ideal America

  • Consider the idealized American city and various images may come to mind. Urban America may be composed of glistening skylines and suburban America of spacious dwellings with open yards. In a thesis, describe how important idealized buildings and urban structure are in actual architectural work done in different living spaces -- city, suburb and countryside. How do these buildings, representational of social success, compare to those found in ghettos or areas often seen as representational of social failure? Consider architecture as a form of social protest regarding these compartmentalized visions of America as well. Use specific cities and buildings as examples, and compare them to cities and architecture in other countries.

Preservation and Sustainability

  • Sustainability is an important and often discussed contemporary architectural topic. Consider its impact specifically in the sphere of preservation. In a thesis discussing this, go into detail with the various models of green home-rating systems used in North America. Based on these rating systems, note any problems or issues that may pertain to renovations of historic homes or other preservation techniques. In addition, focus on specific sustainability topics throughout, such as energy efficiency. Discuss energy modeling techniques and life-cycle costing relating to historic buildings. One of the main things here will be to ruminate on the differences and challenges of staying green when preserving older buildings.


  • "Buildings & Landscapes"; Refiguring the Colonial City: Recovering the Role of Local Inhabitants in the Construction of Colonial Bombay, 1854-1918; Preeti Chopra; 2007
  • "Journal of Architectural Education"; Public Participation: Technology and Democracy; May 2000
  • "Journal of Architectural Education"; Slumming in Utopia: Protest Construction and the Iconography of Urban America; Lance Hosey; February 2000
  • "APT Bulletin"; Saving Energy in Historic Buildings: Balancing Efficiency and Value; John Cluver and Brad Randall; 2010
  • "APT Bulletin"; Green Home-Rating Systems: A Preservation Perspective; Mike Jackson; 2010
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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