Architecture is a disciple that contains critical thinking and design together. During four-year education (in some cases, it is five), an architecture student takes multiple design studios. It is also possible to widen perspective with other mandatory and elective courses that might lead students to promote their critical thinking skills because it fosters the design process and causes them to reframe every idea towards life. It expands debate skills and makes it easy to detect fallacies while judged by someone. Also, it decreases the possibility of judging and instead suggests evaluation. In this writing, I would like to share what I learned about critical thinking in architecture college and how it changed my life. 

Initially, I learned what a context is and why we need it. Before, I study architecture have always taught that there are cool students who design buildings as a sculpture, and then they receive the applauses, and I believe this is the most common prejudice towards architects; however, my idea is completely changed when I heard the word “context” in the first semester of my university for the first time, and the lecturer who lectures architectural culture class urged upon this topic. I interpreted that architects should consider all the aspects of the environment around the site to create a design. To illustrate, a neighborhood in a historical context should not be ignored, though the design process, and the design did not suppose to result conservatively. It can be futuristic or modern; however, respects the neighborhood. 

How did Architecture School Impact My Critical Thinking Ability - Sheet1

In contrast, if architects do not recognize the background of where they design, the design will be considered top-down architecture. I do not intend to judge any concept; top-down architecture has some advantages and drawbacks; however, throughout my education, I usually preferred to design in a context and peruse every design with its context, and this was the first thing that wholly changed my way of thinking. 

Secondly, I learned that I should avoid essentialism and generalization of concepts and be critical about them. That was teaching from an architectural history class lecturer, and it enhanced my critical thinking skills; thus, I became a person that is not accessible for manipulation. For instance, the assumption of “Sheltering is the essence of architecture.” may seem indisputable; nonetheless, it bears on historical facts that are open for change and exposition. Therefore, trying to base an opinion on historical facts, culture, and traditions does not make that statement compelling; they should be questioned as well. Thanks to this awareness, I could win the debates on juries, even the harsh ones, and learned to approach questions to people who were thought to be very knowledgeable and intellectual in real life.


Moreover, I learned not to be judgmental. I know it seems ironic when architecture college is considered, but the word does not consist of wrong and right; everything cannot be black and white; hence, we should evaluate first instead of judging. For example, labeling an architectural project as bad does not tell much; nevertheless, mentioning different perspectives towards the project can be eye-opening for the designer. As a result, the project may transform into something different. I owe this mindfulness to a lecturer that I met in the second year of the university; however, since I was in a judge position for a long time, it is hard to change what you have used to, and I am still in progress in this.

The last thing that I would like to mention in this writing is one of the most important teachings that I find out during my education is asking myself if there is a different option for what I do. This query requires me to think continuously and consider every aspect of the project; so, I ended up with well-figured projects. I developed that inquiring method to answer the juries, in-studio classes quickly; on the other hand, it is a question that drives thinking on unthought-of. Students are convenient to be impressed by concepts during education, resulting in continually producing the same ideas. Many students and instructors became a design dictator and believe that their understanding is the only way to achieve a good design. Thanks to questioning, being open to new approaches, and developing them with your ideas are within the realms of possibility.

To conclude, I may claim that architecture school taught me new ways of thinking and showed my previous fallacies. It distorted my first assumptions towards architecture and prevented me from prejudging other issues as well. I achieved the peace of being constructive in a frequently critical world and have reached the ability to understand that the other person criticizes me with generalizing thoughts. Thanks to my lecturers, I could develop my own opinions rather than accept their ideas because they were not imposing their perspectives; they shared what they have concluded with us.


MügeElmas is currently an architecture student studying at Ozyegin University, Istanbul, in the senior year. After graduation, she aspires to continue her masters. She is interested in all forms of art, but is specifically passionate about movies and set designs, and always seeks new experiences to widen her knowledge about art and architecture.