Remember the times in high school you would proudly say ‘I want to be an architect’ and you couldn’t wait to go to college, have ‘fun’ and do what you love. Well, I am sure the first week of college was an eye-opener to enter a reality with a mix of blood, sweat, tears, disbelief, and dark circles. Our lives as architecture students are more like ‘dark humor’, as we work nights at the expense of our sleep. Here is a sneak peek.

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Architecture students studying_©

1. Night Outs 

Nights turning into mornings in a frenzy of models, last-minute renders, prints, and accidentally falling asleep and regretting it in the mornings, are defined as night outs. Sleep is a novelty in architecture schools; a day has more than 24 hours for us. Wee hours in the morning are littered with empty coffee cups as we walk around armed with a toothbrush in one hand and water bottle in another, unsure whether to greet others with a good night or good morning.

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Working on submissions all night_©

2. Architect and Architecture Ft. Relatives

After scraping through somehow in architecture schools, are you even an architect if you haven’t been called ‘architecture’ instead of an ‘architect’, or have been asked to design a house for free by a relative? Here are the annual conversations at family gatherings:

“So you make buildings, are you a builder?”

“So you make houses as an interior designer?”

“So you make drawings, are you an artist?”

Listening to the above, you would secretly prefer to be called an ‘architecture’ rather than having to go through the pain of actually answering these questions.

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Family Gathering_©

3. The Subtle Art of (Not) Balancing

As you leave your house for college, it’s normal to get stares filled with curiosity from pedestrians, but at least they can’t see your face hidden by the model you are carrying or balancing. Every day is a revelation as to how much you can fit in two hands – handmade models (made after few days of no sleep and not so few drops of blood), drafted sheets (secured in the sheet holder), ‘the night bag’ (toothbrush, towel, perfume, a fresh set of clothes), laptop bag, and the exact amount of the auto fare (because once you have managed to balance it all you cannot move and only pray for no speed breakers on the way).

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Balancing models at Carnegie Mellon University_©

4. Redo of a Redo

You thought putting a thread through a needle required patience? Well, finding the will to be able to draft the same sheet infinite times is the real patience test. Remember when the scale was a little bit off or you did ‘glass copy’ for just a portion of your drawing assuming no one would find out, well the professors will find out and make you do the sheets again even if one line is ‘not so straight’ as you had drafted it in the wee hours of the morning with eyes half-open or just if they are in the ‘mood’ to give redos.

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Redoing of drawings and models_©

5. The Real Flex

As a kid, our biggest flex was to be able to peel off glue from our hands perfectly, until life in architecture school hits you with the real flex glue that is more painful to rip off than a band-aid on a wound. Also, we wear band-aids as battle scars of managing to finish a model without spilling any blood on it; since we are more scared to get blood on our sheets and models than getting tetanus.

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Paper cuts and band-aids_©

6. Jury Day- D Day

After nights fighting off your sleep and downing coffee, you finally approach the Jury Day with dark circles. Even concealers can’t hide in a mix of anticipation, excitement, and a sprinkle of ‘can’t wait for this to get over and go to sleep’. After attending college and sleeping in the same ‘comfort clothes’, seeing people having taken a bath, combing their hair, and wearing good clothes on the jury day, makes them look like different people altogether. We pin up our sheets and display our models with pride praying to take them back in one piece after the discussion. After a hectic day, we sleep off the entire weeks’ worth.

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Jury pin up_©

7. Studio – Live, Work and Play

Studios are not just working space for us but a notion of home with having spent hours drafting sheets, making models, and shedding tears. Before we even design multipurpose buildings we have explored all how this particular space, aka studio, can be occupied. We have all once in a while, slept on our tables, had meals, drinks, conversations, longings, juries, faculty discussions, impromptu games, and blasted music at night here. You spend more time in your studio than you spend at your home.   

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Studio space_©

8. College Trips- A Hoax

We all look forward to the college trips, it seems like a breath of fresh air in our seemingly busy lives with guaranteed hours of sleep, exploring a new city, and playing around with our friends. But in these college trips or ‘documentation trips’, we end up spending days roaming around with our measure tapes, measuring each nook and corner, drawing out joineries and mapping structures, not to forget the assignments thereafter. But we all look forward to these trips and making memories.

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Documentation work after college trips_©

9. Internships- The ‘Real’ Life Architecture

After sending out your CV and portfolio to about 30 firms, when you finally land an internship, it is no less a task than climbing a mountain. You realize that it’s not just architecture schools but architecture offices that don’t end in the evening. You go from making fancy and exquisite concepts in college to learning building codes, BOQs, and real working drawings with endless site visits in the office. It is an eye-opener to what we had been designing so far and catering to the clients.

Working in architecture offices_©

Rajshri Jain is a final year architecture student and you will usually find her devouring books and poetry in cafes over warm cups of coffees and conversations. She is always wondering and wandering about spaces, places and cities and its relation with memories, cultures, history and people.