Architect; in the making

Architecture school is a transformational stage in people’s lives. It is the transition from Merely living to designing the possibilities of life itself! This phenomenon by itself makes it clear that architects can never stop learning. However, there are stages in this learning process in which they realize their profession. The stages are different for every architect, but arguably, they all share at least the same preliminary stages of being an architect.

The first stage: Before architecture. 

Where the feeling is the most and thinking is the little. In this stage, there is no background or technical information, which makes their perception of receiving and understanding architecture pure and unbiased towards one philosophy over the other. Yet, their opinions on architecture can easily be manipulated by the media or other people. In the book thinking architecture, Peter Zumthor narrates how he perceived his aunt’s house when he was young through the touch of the door handle, the sound of the gravel under his feet, and the bright look of the waxed oak staircase. But when he looks back at her house as an architect he realized that he usually talks about these elements in a technical manner rather than in an experiential manner. This situation made Zumthor realize that he seeks to sink into old memories in his design practice to remember what the architectural situation was like.

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Peter Zumthor in his home kitchen_©Tettamanti, J. .

The second stage: The Freshman

It is when you know the difference between Corinthian and ionic columns. At this time, architecture students learn the terminology, the basic elements, and history. Suddenly everything is observed and categorized into types and typologies. This leaves lesser space to perceive and understand the experience as a user, in the favor of observing those details. A similar situation happens in all the fundamental and technical courses. Part of perceiving the genius loci is missing in the favor of observing the newly learned details.

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©THA New Media LLC. (1797). 1797 Encyclopedia Britannica: Complete 18 Volume 3rd Edition.

The third stage: post-Freshman

This stage is where the students put all the fundamentals in the back of their heads. Where the design starts to appear as the focus of the scene while using all the learned info without taking the focus out of the design. Concepts and philosophy start to enter this stage in a greater manner than before. In addition to textbooks about design and atmospheres. They are exposed to a higher level of complexity in this stage; focusing on the design and design issues in multiple scales and notions. The stage changes the perception of the students on the experienced architecture of every day. Noticing and observing new elements, like threshold, thermal comfort, morphology, genius loci, sustainability, scenography, etc… Things that are concerned with the design experience and its effects on users and the environment.

The fourth stage: The realization

The stage where you realize the complexity of the design process, and that the smallest building detail is a design by itself. A concept is not architecture. At the same time, the details are also not architecture. Architecture consists of multiple layers and many components. And the design process is a careful maneuver between many elements on various scales with different importance and relevance. A building is like a city, both are organisms that have systems, meanings, and effects on people and the planet. These complex elements are not one-dimensional. And part of the architects’ job is to understand and deconstruct them to be able to design and imagine the future of architecture and the people who inhabit it.

The stages do not end here, but it differs in architects’ life and story. Architecture is beyond a simple compression in some paragraphs; it is more than that; it is life in a sense. More precisely, it is the domain in which life operates. Whether technically or poetically, it is a lot of things that have infinite manifestations. What truly makes an architect: is their positioning in these infinite possibilities, the critical understanding and practice of architecture through their interests and conditions. Being an architect does not change your perspective, it changes you as a person: It tunes your senses, sharpen your mind, Open your eyes to the world, and gives you the opportunity to make the world a better place.

Christou, P. (2021, July 12). Remote control: Álvaro Siza in South Korea. Architectural Review. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from_©




Youssef Yasser Is an architect and multi-disciplinary artist. He is highly interested in Film, photography, writing, and philosophy. His work is driven by integrating a research-based approach and philosophy, Executed Through different mediums. To explore new ideas and different notions.