||This paper presents a conceptual framework for understanding architectural works. This framework provides an understanding of an architectural building through qualitatively discerning the complexity of issues involved in its design and enabling their systematic integration into a theoretical construct. The premise behind this framework is that in design a better understanding of ‘what’ to design leads to a more informed base to ‘how’ to design. Using a grounded theory method, the paper postulates an ontological framework that recasts the Vitruvian triad of utilitas, venustas, and firmitas into spatial, intellectual, and structural forms respectively, and more importantly expands the triad to include context and architectural thinking as formative ideas, as integral components in any architectural work, thus closing a gap that existed in many frameworks dealing with architecture. The paper concluded that this framework offers a level of robust understanding of architecture that can be used in structuring the generation of architectural form as well as the description and analysis of existing works of architecture. Its value exceeds theory framing and extends towards architectural pedagogy as a theoretical framework in teaching design studio.