No story about architecture school is complete without the mention of a pressing deadline handcuffing the student to stress filled “all-nighter”, accompanied by the ever-insufficient boatload of coffee and music. It is hard to imagine end semester portfolios and submissions being made in time and not in the rush hour, isn’t it?
A wide variety of incidents come to my mind when reflecting on how my life as an architecture student has been so far. From skipping classes to escape a hated faculty’s boring hour-long lectures on water supply systems to revamping a senior’s assignment only to get caught and thrown out of the class, to spilling coffee, or sometimes photo ink, on presentation sheets! I’ve done it all. But the one incident that leaves me in splits every time I think about it is the night before a midterm submission in the third semester.
The week that started it all
That semester, in particular, had two major design assignments. One was a group documentation assignment and the other was an individual design exercise. For the documentation process, we were required to visit a certain museum complex in the city which was easily thirty kilometres away from our main college campus.
We paid weekly visits to the museum to make a set of measured drawings. It wasn’t uncommon for three out of five students of the group to be absent from a majority of the visits which left me in charge of a majority of the work of the group. We have all worked, or at least seen, that one person in every group who either willingly or forcefully takes on almost all the work of the group. Haven’t we? Well in this case I was the one stuck in the middle of a group of highly ambitious but reluctant-to-work individuals.
As the semester played out, we had a series of short breakouts within the group which ended up piling up a ton of work to be executed in the last three weeks of the semester. In the middle of all this chaos, I had to travel outside of India for ten days to attend a workshop. Before I left for the workshop, I pleaded with my group members to finish their part of the work with a promise that in return I will get the goodies from my trip!
The easiest way to get work done right? That’s what I thought too! But as it turned out, our group had fallen to the last position in the class on both quantity and quality of work- a perfect surprise I received on my return to the campus. What I did not know immediately was that they lost all the onsite measure drawing reference sheets! Months of hard work put to rest in a snap! What could I have done!
Funnily enough, I laughed about it for days and even joined my group mates in cleverly changing and making a new set of dimensions for the documentation which worked out so well that the faculty appreciated our “guess-work” in front of the entire class! That day onwards I decided to believe in cover-ups too!
The week that made it to the headline
While this was going on, the individual design assignment was waiting to be woken up from sleep for a final presentation. For a second-year student, digital drawings were out of bounds for submission. But well, aren’t we all always tempted to do what we aren’t allowed?…..and also what others do, even if it may be wrong?
My extremely undeceived brain decided to put itself through a series of trial-and-error iterations of using CAD to develop final drawings when hand-drafted drawings would have taken exactly one-tenth of the time spent on it otherwise! But stubbornness to do a little extra was what I was back then!
After working relentlessly on the drawings for days together with hardly any sleep, I was ready with a final set of drawings. Along with drawings, a physical model was a requirement of the submission. Since I was through with the task of making presentation drawings, I could have made the model and gotten prints of the drawings way in time before the jury day, right? Well, I decided to wait until one, exactly, one night, before the big jury day!
It was 8:30 a.m. and my model was nowhere near completion. I had scattered pieces of paper and foam sheets all over the room leaving no space to walk comfortably. In an hour from then, I was to report in the jury hall with finished drawings and a model. As I reached out for my laptop, I had a major accident with hot glue and glued my fingers together!
Neither could I sign in to my laptop using glue-covered fingers to copy files for printing nor could I finish making the model. Yes, I reached the jury hall in shabby clothes, covered in paper and glue, trying hard to balance the laptop in one hand and the half-finished and broken model in the other!
The jury didn’t go as expected but well I had a good laugh about it for weeks after it took place. Sometimes the strangest and most unplanned times teach us more than well-planned classes and workshops! Moral of the story you ask? Stick to the deadlines but have fun along the way!