If you try to picture yourself in school, you will soon be hit with the nostalgic memory of yourself, carrying heavy backpacks. Unfortunately for many architecture students, this evocation is not a distant memory, it is a happening reality! 

From juggling beautifully crafted models in our hands to slinging sheet holders and a preoccupied mind rehearsing possible jury questions, there is barely any part of our anatomy that does not scream architecture. So, what makes our bags so heavy that our posture slowly evolves back to the second stage of human evolution? Here is a breakdown.

Anatomy of an Architecture Student’s Bag - Sheet1
Normal Student vs Architecture Student_©Leewardists

The Antenna | Architecture Student Bag

To passers-by, the sight seems ultra-modernrobots with large walkie-talkies on their backs. To them, a ‘radio antenna’ seems like a suitable word to describe the long, transparent, and slightly wobbling T-scale sticking out of the bag. This strange device, which on closer inspection resembles a gigantic ruler happens to be the most precious weapon for us architecture studentstoo expensive to carelessly leave behind in the classroom, and too fragile to be forced into already brimming lockers. This essential architecture is our cup of ‘T’ in the world of manual drafting, a set that is completed by the addition of a pair of set squares and triangular bars. 

The Canvas

Doodling on scraps of paper and restaurant tissues when an idea strikes, seems like something any famous architect would do, but for beginners, a sketchbook is where our visualizations come to life, or death, for after the sketchbook brainstorming session, a few ideas lose their appeal. 

The sketchbook is like a diary, full of scribbles, doodles, and breath-taking sketches. It is where concepts take shape, and revolutionary ideas begin! Years later, we are sure to look back upon the piles of filled sketchbooks, and have an innovative idea strike us! 

The Cavalry

The supporting friends behind our architectural journey, where would we be without our liners, pens, pencils, and erasers? Not to mention the colour mediums whose splashes and scribbles (yes, even the greys) proliferate life into our drawings. The vibrant colours and shades of our trusted stationery brands add a charming personality to our sheets and graphics and a unique touch that makes our drawings or sketches discernible from the mundane. The ‘cavalry’ forms the backbone of manual renders and concepts.

The Brick and its Tangled Reinforcements

Unfortunately, using the best software comes with the side effect of carrying bulky, big-screened laptops, with a free load of tangled chargers, earphones, and whatnot. But the realistic and breath-taking renders that come to life on the screen, definitely make the few extra pounds worth the effort. 

These technological marvels make our work so much easier. When a rough sketch on paper is transformed into realistic visualizations, the satisfaction and joy that courses through our veins are exhilarating! 

The Model Making Essentials | Architecture Student Bag

If using heavy software is not your piece of cake, then model making tools are sure to find a home in your bag! Every brand and type of adhesive that is available in the friendly campus store has probably been a part of every architect’s model making arsenal in conjunction with bits and pieces of modelling materials, and a razor-sharp cutter, that has been the cause of many bleeding fingers! For everyone to bond with our models, this set of essentials is vital!

The Lifesavers

Skipping meals or pulling all-nighters, is a part of an architecture student’s schedule at some point or the other. These packaged treats in the backpack, solve the problem of a rumbling tummy, or a mind trapped in cobwebs. These delicious little titbits, packed with bursts of flavour, can make for a comforting binge after a nerve-wracking jury or exam. 

Always keep a snack on hand (do not forget the expiry date, of course); you never know when you will need it! 

Binge Eating Session. ©Benedetto Cristofani

The Bag in the Bag 

A new day dawns, and you recall that your class is going on a site visit, for the new class project. So, what do you do? Pack up a smaller, lighter sling bag to carry onto the site, of course! This bag is not complete without some great showstoppersa smaller notepad, coloured pens and of course the trusty measuring tape, that will find its way into every crevice and floor space

Do not forget your phone, for filling your gallery with site pictures is a compulsion. You may not refer to them for your site analysis, but they do make for some amazing memories, down the road.

The Reverse ATM

This law states that as soon as money enters our pockets, it will be spent on the most trivial things, almost immediately. From hustling to printing shops for our sheets that need to be ready before the deadline, to the never-ending list of perfect model making materials and stationery, architecture students are perhaps the living embodiment of a moving ATM.  Maybe we can console ourselves, thinking about it as a thoughtful contribution to small stationery shops and printing stores!

The Lost and Forgotten | Architecture Student Bag

Remember all the stationery you borrowed and all the supplies you bought thinking that you will definitely use them later? Well, where are they now? Come on rummage around; you will probably find that they have found their way to the deep, dark recesses of your bag. 

Well, these are just some of the knick-knacks that architecture students usually have in their backpack! Hope you have truckloads of fun searching for the lost treasures at the bottom of your bag!


Deeksha Kamath is a fresh graduate from Manipal School of Architecture and Planning, India, with a penchant for writing. She believes that words, when strung together beautifully, can evoke the greatest emotions in readers. With this precept, she aspires to proliferate her love for architecture, through her writing.