“Will I ever get to design an actual project.” Did this thought occur to you in the first year of architecture, because when I think about my scenario it didn’t just occur to me. Instead, it hit me like a truck pushing me on the verge of leaving architecture.

Well in my defense I was also a student who joined architecture with a fascination of making complex models and renders but I found myself completely lost during the first year in architecture. It almost felt like joining the primary school all over again. I still remember the first day of the studio where we were introduced to the stationary, a similar excitement that was felt in primary school when we began to explore the new geometry box resurfaced when we were introduced to set-squares, the compass set, t-scale, and etc. I was learning about making straight lines and perpendicular lines 13 years later, the last time when I was taught this I was in kindergarten.

It wasn’t just the exercise of making lines but the way professors treated us and the way the learning process began it made me wonder where is architecture. It all began by teaching student s the small details such as how to properly grip the pencil and how to control the pressure of the pencil in order to create different line weights. 

At this point, these exercises appear to be so small and boring that little did any student know how important they are to architecture drawing. The one who has commands on these basic skills can nail any drafted drawing; one of the major components in architecture.

How First Year of Architecture Takes you Back to Primary School - Sheet1

Well if not during these initial drafting sessions did you get the flashbacks of primary school then the lettering exercise for sure had recalled you of handwriting books from primary school. Everyone had filled countless handwriting workbooks in their early education but believe no one expects to do the same thing in their university life, did you ever expected to do so? But architecture department is always full of surprise, I was left in a state of utter confusion when the lettering assignment was assigned because I wasn’t able to connect the dots; architecture and lettering. I remember doing countless redos of these exercises, in order to learn how to write each and every letter in a proper proportion and in appropriate style.

How First Year of Architecture Takes you Back to Primary School - Sheet2

No one understands how crucial it is to learn these small things in the first year of architecture and the one who had command on it, how helpful these things will be for them in the coming years, but all that students have is these questions with no answer that how this all ties back to architecture.  It is in the second year when one is introduced to the site analysis concept students began to understand the importance of sun orientation and wind direction in a design. 

But no one knows how important it is in their first year of architecture when the term like sun path, sun orientation, winter solace, summer solace, etc., are thrown towards them all they could think about is the geography class that they attended in their primary school, those diagrams of sun movement resembling with geography textbooks. Thus one found himself learning everything except architecture, often wondering did they actually signed up for this.


The closest exercise in the first year that coincided with the concept of architecture was of model making, something that becomes the very reason or fascination for students to join architecture. Every student assumes it to be the point where they will begin to finally learn about architecture thinking of making the coolest model for a building instead one is engulfed in disappointment when they find out that all this task is about making models of platonic forms. 

Listening to the professor give instruction about how to create each form and how each form is different from others often one thinks about what I am here for and wasn’t learning about form was something I have done in primary school. At this point, the student is clueless how these forms help one in designing the structure that we see erecting in our surroundings. 

Little did one know that these forms are the building block of all complex structures that we see in our context and how these forms join in multiple different compositions to create such structures.

Architecture is all over a new world one that is finely curated by the amalgamation of art, science, math, design, and technology, it is something that exceeds way beyond its physical appearance. A student in his first year of architecture is not able to grasp how wide the spectrum of architecture expands and how it interacts with all these different subjects thus they are often left in a state of confusion that what are they learning and most importantly why are they learning. It is in the second and the third year that the student realizes the importance of these small exercises in adding up to the learning process.

Collectively a quick note if you are a first-year student make the best of these exercises and if you have experienced all these moments now is the time to remember them and smile.


Aqsa is an architecture student and a self-taught writer. With keen interest in urban planning and cartography. She believes that words are the fourth or the unseen dimension of a space that can enable people to connect to spaces more than ever thus aiming to empower the architecture community through her voice.