To turn a boring conversation into an interesting one we pick instances that were interesting from our past. For architects, the most interesting topic of conversation is their time in architecture school. However, some of these instances prove valuable to the budding architects as they help them prepare for what’s coming, what should be done, what should not be done therefore helping them train in the field beforehand. When I was in my first year I lacked skills and habits to work well and efficiently in the design subjects while there were people who had a natural gift of some of these skills hence I struggled during my first year but later improvised on these skills.
Here are 8 things I learned in Architecture college:
Don’t make it too complex
I have noticed that whenever we choose something we try to choose things that are complex rather than choosing simpler things because unconsciously think that simpler things simply won’t work or would look like anyone can do it, and one thing we all don’t want to be is being called common we want to be different, we like to stand out in a crowd. We choose complexity over simplicity but we forget that instead of deconstructing complexity which leads to even more complexity if we exploit the unrecognized simplicity of it we may be able to understand it better, after all, it’s the basics that we are taught first and then as we keep learning the process grows into a complex system. Finding the answer simply is always more efficient than finding an answer in the chaos of too much information unravelled from the complex way which can be exhausting.
“Create architectural richness through informed simplicity or an interaction of simples rather than through unnecessarily busy agglomerations.”
Managing time is a very important habit one should have. During my time in architecture college, I have seen people struggle to divide up their time effectively. We get to our work, we review our to-do lists and see that we have got a deadline and have to get stuff done, you take a quick look at the list and in your head calculate how much time you might take to finish it and you decide you have enough time left to finish it off so you procrastinate and delay the work to take a quick break. But the break never ends once you get the habit of procrastinating you become inconsistent with your time management.
I experienced the same problems during my architecture education, last-minute changes in the plans, the last-minute making of the panels for presentation has never benefitted me, rather it has always left me unsatisfied with my incomplete work. My advice would start with one thing on your to-do list and make sure you see to the end of it and continue ticking off what is to be done, do not multitask it just makes things even confusing, limit your distractions, keep a time log, design your schedule; you may not be able to finish everything on your to to-do list but seeing those ticks on the stuff you got done with will encourage you to finish it off.
Trust the process
As architects, we tend to solve design-related problems in different ways, while solving these problems there is a process that we follow to achieve a good design. The process can be conscious or subconscious, it can have limiting factors to give it a direction or it can be limitless and still lead to some direction with reasonable objectives. The process plays a very important role in the design development of the project. The process not only helps find a result but also helps us have a critical understanding of why it led to it.
Trusting your process is very important there are times when I found myself lost in my process of work but with time and consistent critique given by my mentors in my subjects I was able to carry the process to its finish line. I believe that even if I have seen the end to the process of my work there is always a feeling that it might go even further than what I think is the finish line. I still work on some of my projects which I feel need some more time and problem solving, but of course, we cannot say that the process is not helpful. The process is important one cannot jump to conclusions without having the process of thoughts which help in reasoning out, evolution, and problem-solving.
Criticism is important
All architecture students face bad critique. As an architecture student has learned the skill of not taking criticism personally, but it is always hard to hear a juror tear apart the project you have been working on for the entire semester in the final jury. These reviews can make you feel attacked, some students are hard-headed and argumentative who keep defending their projects till the last breath instead of taking the critique as a lesson to learn, a lesson to evolve and grow.
The feedback that you get will later help you to integrate it into your work and hence develop it further instead of being stuck on it with your own set of thoughts about it. Self-criticism is important one has to be open-minded and open to opinions even if you later consider to not use those opinions. Being in architecture school for years has taught me that many people are of the same age as you but better than you in some fields and learning their tricks, tips, their ways of being better at those things is far more important than being stuck in a bubble of your triumphs, learning is important, who you learn from is not.
We have always worked in groups for particular subjects in our school but mostly our education during this time has been more of an individual one. In my years of architecture school, I have had more group work than individual projects which helped me learn different disciplines of different people, how to collaborate and coordinate with people, how to manage people together.
Some teammates taught me how to not be like them and some taught me how to be like them or better. The group discussions helped me raise my opinions in front of the public with confidence and made me realize that sometimes you may be wrong and you have to take a step back and learn from others. Working in teams taught me that the group members are just as important as the leader and that communication is key to everything.
In architecture schools, we are encouraged to work in groups which prevents isolation of the student and unnecessary competition built up between the students. I have observed in some of architecture school years that there are a few lots of students who go to the professor after the lecture is over to ask questions or give their opinions about the topic that was being taught in the class or they work individually on the critique given to them by their mentors.
However, instead of going individually if people would start sharing the knowledge with others then maybe the others who might not have thought about the kind of opinion or questions raised might benefit from it too and maybe speak up their own opinions about the same. I believe that it is important to share knowledge, learning from our mentors is just as important as learning from our colleagues.
Sharing and experiencing the depth of someone else’s knowledge helps in creating a better community and a sense of companionship between people. We can be stronger and efficient together than against each other is what I learned from my experience in my architecture school. Being individualistic and self-dependent is important but being self-aware and open-minded and collective.
Books are the key to everything
Books are important. They help in enhancing your intellect, improve your memory, relieve stress, keep you focused, help you develop analytical skills, and build your vocabulary. Although the architecture schools don’t have a specific syllabus, there is a wide range of books that help us develop important skills that are related to the field, the whole syllabus is an elective for us, whichever skill you choose to learn and develop further there are no limits to it, there is no strict regime of books to be followed which makes it more flexible and open. It is on you what kind of books you would like to learn from, it could be a book related to a particular subject or a specific architect whose work you love or a particular skill you would like to develop, etc.
Architecture involves syllabus relating to science, social science, history, technology, mathematics, physics, painting, art, and their subfields. Since there is no hard and fast rule to reading specific books till you complete your degree the field becomes more interesting and innovative as compared to other professions and the only thing that is constant in it are the books that give ground for it to diversify into so many other topics but still rooting it to the profession.
Having a business mind-set
As I am coming closer to my final year of architecture one very important thing that I have learned from following the Instagram accounts of architectural firms and other architecture-related accounts websites, blogs are that we should have a business mind-set. We need to know how to sell our work profitably and sustainably.
We work so hard to learn softwares and design-related subject, build models, keep changing and enhancing our drawings which takes a lot of hard work and time to be able to present it to our clients and to make them accept us and our work but what we are not taught in an architecture school is how to sell these services to the clients. Understanding how the real world works and that you have made money to pay your bills is important.