In recent years architecture has acquired recognition as playing a pivotal role in change processes. Despite this recognition, describing architecture has proven to be difficult. Architecture frameworks have been defined to address this problem. However, there are many of them, and together they leave us with seemingly contradicting terminology. What are the underlying forces that caused people to create so many different frameworks? What do these frameworks teach us about the essence of architecting? Where do I start to select or create a framework for my current project? With these questions in mind we set out to perform a comparison of existing architecture frameworks. We ended up with a deeper understanding of the function of a framework, and "discovered" nine fundamental dimensions that seem to underlie architectural thinking. These "base dimensions" can be used to clarify the meaning of individual architecture documents independent of the framework they originate from, and they can be helpful in defining new architecture frameworks or situational architecture descriptions. In this paper we also relate our findings to IEEE 1471, which is another important generalisation of existing frameworks. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006.