Architecture is a complex and intricate mixture of technicality and art. Forefathers of architecture have always portrayed it in beautiful ways. They have developed styles, described it as a passion, an art form, a movement but at the same time, they also warned us that the subject was not for the faint-hearted. Anyone who puts themselves through 5 years of architectural education can vouch for that statement and agree that they might have downplayed it a little. When you compare your first day of architecture school to your last, you can agree that you’re not the same person who walked into class in awe of the art on the walls, the variety of scales, the bustle of the seniors, and their works. You have grown, developed opinions, become resilient, and mastered the art of weaseling your way of getting out of tough situations through creative stories.

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Most folklores and myths that revolve around architecture school have several culprits; however, the two that stand out the most are juries and the late nights. Juries, be it internal or external can cause nerves no matter how many times one goes through it every semester. No student can ever forget the first jury where the harshest criticism was faced, a redo was demanded, or even worse, a sheet was torn to bits. The subjective nature of the course is one of the hardest things to come to terms with, but it also helps pave an open and resilient mindset. While it isn’t fun to be on the receiving end, the criticism does help look at one’s designs differently. As students, we often get too attached or immersed in our designs and tend to overlook the flaws. The different opinions and questions raised about a design or every redo on a beautifully drafted sheet are not only heart wrenching but also helps broaden thoughts regarding constraints and dynamics of the subject. Over time, it also helps build the ability to critique one’s own designs, thus creating more iterations as well as the better application of the theory learned in lectures.

Since the course is woven with several fields like art, engineering, history, etc. students are often required to think in multiple directions. While you might be an art critic in one class, you take up the role of a simpleton studying services in a building in the next. The different subjects require you to take up various characters, to prioritize and to think, which can be a little overwhelming. This is where time the greatest friend or foe a student can have i.e. time management, comes into play. Learning how to balance between work and an inconsistent social life is a trial and error game that the architectural community struggles with. However, it is an important trait to achieve as it not only helps survive 5 years of school but also when you graduate and step out into the real world.

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The course comes with an unimaginable workload; hence, burning the night oil is not a foreign concept to the architecture clan. The misinterpreted concept that late nights are the paths for creative enigmas becomes a new normal in the first year itself. Coffee, smudged sheets, falling asleep beside models with glue residue all over your hands are some of the common sights one can witness when they enter an architecture students’ room. The unfortunate events of laptops crashing, deadlines overlapping, prints going wrong and paper cuts not only boosts tolerance but also advocate innovative thinking. It makes one think on their feet and be ready to solve any problem.

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Architecture school can be viewed as two sides of a coin. The intensity of the course that augments patience makes one thick-skinned and molds smart designers as well as thinkers, and  can also be the force that drives students away from pursuing it. Architecture is exhilarating, vibrant and helps discover parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed. At the same time, the rigorous system can be exhausting, unsatisfactory, and never-ending. It is a subject that is constantly changing and evolving. It takes decades to master which means that it requires a lot of commitment and hard work. However, in the process of achieving greatness, the line of overexertion tends to get blurry at times. Architecture demands blood (not at copious amounts), sweat (not as often as the other two), and tears (bucketloads honestly) but not at the cost of losing oneself. Learning to draw the line (metaphorically and literally), exploring and making mistakes are the only ways to prosper and grow in the field. The course might push and test one’s limits, make it feel like the universe and stars are never in your favor, but it is wholesome and life-changing for those who are passionate about it.

Arathi Biju
Author

With a notebook and pen in her bag and an arsenal of questions in her mind, Arathi Biju has always had a keen interest in telling a story. Currently pursuing her degree in architecture, she has always been a strong advocate of expression be it through art, architecture or words.

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