Before considering architecture as a possible career choice, the general impression gained from the subject was limited to its construction and materials. After soaking in the knowledge, however, that black and white perception was suddenly colored. Architecture is truly multidisciplinary, painting strokes of several skills overlaid. 

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Post digital illustration, México. (Cortesía de PALMA, 2018)

1. The art of design thinking and problem solving

As early as design education starts, we have been trained to look at the problem through multiple lenses. Understanding the brief, undertaking site/precedent studies, and drawing is how we carve out our response to a problem. The consistent testing through various mediums further sharpens our approach to a problem. As multitaskers, we are expected to look at the big picture simultaneously as we consider the form, structure, material, landscaping, and sustainability of a project. 

2. The art of being a tactile learner

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Prototyping various designs. (archisoup.)

Architecture is an applied science, so ideas don’t live in our heads for long. To make it real and convincing, we are forced to get our hands in, dirty. This can be a messy consistent process of observing and sketching, making several drafts and models. Consider prototyping whether they are conceptual, mass, working, or finalized models, learning by doing is the name of the game! 

3. The art of the iterative process

Despite impatience, settling for just something or the first design that pops into our mind is not recommended. Instead, committing to the rigorous process of developing designs through iterations is favored over jumping to an immediate conclusive product. The best design is a result of repeated efforts, which sharpen our problem-solving process. It is also extremely important to know when to let go of our best-loved ideas if it seems stagnant. 

4. The art of exploring a site

An extensive study of the existing site conditions is another research activity. It trains us to spot the potential opportunities and constraints that can inform our design thinking as well as the response to the site. Being sensitive to the world around us and keenly observing everything in key detail helps us design better buildings for the community. These may include immediate context, circulation, views, and human activity. Making films and capturing pictures are all a part of this documentation process. 

5. The art of finding a narrative 

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Sponge concept | Steven Holl (Eliinbar sketches, 2018)

If anything, learning to find a concept is an underrated design skill. Design without a concept renders it meaningless and avoids it from becoming another faceless mediocre building. Establishing a solid concept for a design project gives it an edge over other proposals. There are many ways to go about it whether it is purely functional, site-specific, a certain spatial language, artistic, or precedent inspired concepts. 

6. The art of technical drawings

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Drafting technical drawings. (Michael Neatu | freehandarchitecture.com)

Drafting good technical drawings takes a lot of practice. Starting manually, drawing can be a crucial tool to make sense of the design from a logical, rational standpoint. Drawing with the right scale, clean line weights, good proportion, and technical symbols are key. The famous book, ‘Manual of Section’, shows how good section drawings can shape our Xray architectural vision of building structures. Making technical drawings is easier than ever, now with software like Autocad or Rhino.  

7. The art of working with a team 

Working with several people on a project is a worthwhile skill especially considering how multidisciplinary and collaborative architecture is. Being a team player is what companies look for when viewing resumes. 

8. The art of working with deadlines

Studio culture is infamous for the bait of all-nighters. However, the self-discipline required on our end certainly trains us as we engage in professional practice. Trying to conceive a design project within months is no joke. It can test us to be wise with our time management, priority, and planning of every step of the project’s progress each day. This process is similar to the ‘Plan of work’ recommended by RIBA for architects. 

9. The art of visualizing

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Post digital illustration,Mexico. (Cortesía de operadora,2018)

A picture is a thousand words and so visualization is one very powerful tool architecture uses to communicate. It’s crucial to convince professors and far ahead, the company one applies to or a potential client. There are many kinds of visualizations: realistic,post-digital, or diagrammatic. Unlike the architects of old, we have a unique opportunity as students in these times to explore various modeling software within a click of a button! Realistic renders can be produced with Vray, Enscape, Lumion or you can be creative and opt for working with photoshop. Presenting is very much like storyboarding in terms of organizing it into a legible, attractive format. Software such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign help with such. 

10. The art of selling your idea

Architecture design jury. (Bartlett School of Architecture)

Curating the best features of one’s project in a panel and communicating a pitch within a few minutes is an art. There are countless opportunities in school to present your work publicly whether it’s a personal session with a professor, your peers, or to a whole jury of guest critics. Holding a constructive back and forth with the jurors is quite important. It can show the confidence and intimate exploration you have achieved with your work. Communicating clearly and legibly will be quite important in the future of professional practice as you talk with contractors and other disciplines. Just as Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

11. The art of taking criticism and being critical 

Having a bad jury is easily one of the worst nightmares. More than often, students learn to be tough-skinned and open-minded to possible loops in their work. We learn to reserve critique for our work and not take it personally which opens up a constructive dialogue that can further improve our craft. This also includes filtering out critique that may not be constructive. Having been exposed to a blunt culture keeps us attentive to details not only in our work but in others. This is integral as usually, it is the architect who assumes a leadership role within a multidisciplinary team. 

12. The art of playing by the rules and taking risks 

There are usually conditions related to functionality/safety, that architects are expected to follow which is emphasized in school. Conditioning ourselves to follow these given standards as early as possible makes it second nature when we practice our profession. It is also important to listen to our natural design instinct when it comes to creativity. Taking risks despite the norm can sometimes be surprising and rewarding as this is what has led to many innovative designs in the world! 

References 

  1. Schires, M., 2017. The 13 Most Important Non-Architecture Skills You Learn In Architecture School. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/871046/the-13-most-important-non-architecture-skills-you-learn-in-architecture-school> [Accessed 28 July 2020].
Author

Evangelin Vergis, a passionate student of architecture design believes that architecture is a language nesting people,their conversations, experiences, dreams and history. A poet and songwriter, words shall scarcely run dry especially when reflecting on architecture, the poetics of space where art,science and philosophies intersect!

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