Embarking on the path of becoming an architecture student entails a remarkable voyage filled with countless hours devoted to designing, sketching, and constructing imaginary realms. It is crucial, however, to recognise the essence of the term “imaginary” in this context, a facet that is often overlooked. Amidst the gravity and intricacy inherent in this field, there exists a distinctive sense of humour that only architecture students can genuinely comprehend and appreciate. While engrossed in the study of the art and science of building design, architecture students frequently find themselves engrossed in a world where even the most mundane situations can be perceived through a lens of amusement. This essay endeavours to explore the whimsical side of studying architecture and the inherent paradox of living in a world where the very structures we design and believe to shape human existence are non-existent.

The Architects Odyssey: Human existence without architecture - Sheet1
Human Existence Without Architecture_@Midjourney

Imagine a world devoid of architecture where buildings and structures simply cease to exist. This idealised thought highlights the vital role architecture plays in our lives. Architecture surrounds us from the moment we wake up in our beds to the streets we walk on. Without it, our lives would be reduced to formless chaos, leaving us to ponder, trying to find shelter from the elements or navigate through an endless maze of disarray. The very notion of human existence without architecture was unimaginable as a student, and as students poured themselves into the lexicon, paper cuts, glued fingers and charcoaled pages, highly caffeinated and highly strung, these imagined worlds would take on a physical manifestation in the form of a sketch, render or model, albeit akin to a Tim Burton movie-scape. 

The Architects Odyssey: Human existence without architecture - Sheet2
A Cardboard Student Model of a City_@Midjourney

Amid the chaos, a unique sense of humour prevails. From bizarre design concepts that stretch the boundaries of functionality to comical attempts at deciphering cryptic architectural jargon in project briefs, architecture students are constantly learning.

Humour, however, lies in students’ ability to laugh at themselves and their absurd yet passionate pursuit of perfection. Perfectionism is both a blessing and a curse for architecture students. While it fuels the pursuit of excellence, it also leads to countless revisions, sleepless nights, and self-doubt. The humour lies in the absurdity of striving for perfection in a field where constraints and compromises are inevitable. Architectural drawings can become a battleground of erasers and smudged ink as students relentlessly chase the unattainable goal of flawlessness. Laughing at our obsession with perfection becomes a coping mechanism, reminding us to embrace imperfections as part of the creative process. The comical struggles of endlessly debating the merits of form over function or grappling with the whims of demanding professors become shared anecdotes that unite architecture students in laughter and camaraderie.

Shrouded by scents of old coffee these perfect imaginary worlds were mostly realised as deadlines loomed closer. Picture a group project involving constructing a model with unconventional materials. Amidst the excitement, one overly enthusiastic student accidentally glued their fingers together instead of the intended components. What followed was a comical ballet of attempts to unstick the fingers with classmates providing an assortment of improvised solutions, from using soap to slick dance moves. The room resonated with laughter as collectively it was learned that creativity sometimes comes with sticky consequences. A cautionary tale to prioritise our well-being whilst navigating the treacherous waters of endless design iterations.

The Architects Odyssey: Human existence without architecture - Sheet3
Architectural Sectional Perspective_@Midjourney

One of the delightful aspects of studying architecture is the ability to create entire worlds within the realm of the imagination. Architecture students find themselves sketching elaborate landscapes, crafting imaginary cities, and designing fantastical structures. This imaginative endeavour often leads to moments of enlightenment when students realise the absurdity of constructing something that exists solely within the confines of their minds.

The irony lies in that architecture, an art form rooted in the tangible and practical, allows for flights of fancy and the exploration of the impossible. From gravity-defying structures to buildings resembling abstract sculptures, the humour of being an architecture student lies in juxtaposing the real and the imagined, the practical and the whimsical.

Transitioning from academia to architectural practice opens a new chapter filled with its own brand of comedy. One particular instance during an internship involved a junior architect inadvertently presenting an old design proposal to a client. As confusion ensued, the intern’s cheeks turned a vibrant shade of red, while the senior architects stifled laughter behind their hands. The incident became a lighthearted reminder that mistakes are inevitable and the ability to laugh at oneself is essential for growth in this profession.

Structures as Abstract Sculptures_@Midjourney

In architectural education and practice, humour intertwines with creativity, perseverance, and a shared understanding of the eccentricities of the field. The absurdity of human existence without architecture is a poignant reminder of its undeniable importance in shaping our lives. As architecture students navigate the challenges of their education, they find solace in the ability to laugh at themselves, revel in the imagination, and embrace the ironies that come with designing the built environment. The humour of being an architecture student is a testament to the resilience and passion required to create the spaces that define human existence. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence as a design tool, the limits to our imagination become boundless.


Citations for Social Media:

Kavishe, J. (2023). Human Existence without Architecture [Midjourney]. Generated 4 June 2023. Available from: https://www.midjourney.com/app/jobs/9327800e-5b11-40a1-aa54-658a4de961bb/ [Accessed 4 June 2023].

Kavishe, J. (2023). Cardboard Student Model of a City [Midjourney]. Generated 4 June 2023. Available from: https://www.midjourney.com/app/jobs/f7f73a64-77d8-42fa-bd8a-8b08cdcf0742/ [Accessed 4 June 2023].

Kavishe, J. (2023). Architectural Sectional Perspective [Midjourney]. Generated 4 June 2023. Available from: https://www.midjourney.com/app/jobs/678cc7f6-d909-4183-a5db-96ef9cfdfc82/ [Accessed 4 June 2023].

Kavishe, J. (2023). Structures as Abstract Sculptures [Midjourney]. Generated 4 June 2023. Available from: https://www.midjourney.com/app/jobs/1a2549f9-34b9-480a-826e-7d19dc1f6c2b/ [Accessed 4 June 2023].

Computer programs/software:

Midjourney. (2022). San Francisco: Midjourney, Inc.


Juliet Kavishe is a Design Educator and Professional Interior Architect. Over a career spanning 16 years, she has worked on high-end residential homes and taught design at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her personal Design Motto is that Architecture or Design is achieved once you consider the complexities and interrelationships of human beings and their surroundings.