Architects and architecture students should often travel to different cities and places to get exposure to the vast field of architecture and understand how the architecture of a particular region shapes the people in the city and which creates an impact on a city level. Kevin Hüi, the founder of Archimarathon, often conducts architecture tours to various countries. He, along with Andrew Maynard, exposes the students or the architects to the architecture that is generally not on the list of famous buildings of the city.
Their offbeat architecture travel destinations have attracted many architecture travellers who want to experience infamous but good architecture around the world. Kevin’s years-long travel experience has developed a skillset in him to plan for effortless and productive trips. He and Andrew have shared ‘Archimarathon’s 9 Rules For Architecture Travel Planning And Why It Matters’.
1. What To See
In a city, there are too many buildings. And there is a lot of information available everywhere about the list of buildings in that particular city. Kevin Hüi suggests referring books like Phaidon Atlases, El Croquis, GA Document, DETAIL magazine, etc., to find the list of buildings in a city. ArchDaily will also provide you with a list of structures in a city. These resources also include plans and details and based on it, you can decide whether the building is as per your preferences that you would want to visit.
Pinterest and Instagram will also give you a lot of information about the buildings. So, research thoroughly about all the structures that you prefer to see. It shouldn’t happen that you weren’t aware of the existence of a wonderful structure just a few blocks away from your hotel or lodge!
2. Why See Those
When you select the buildings that you wish to see, think about why you want to see them. It may be a building that you will learn something from or a building in which you would want to have an experience of a particular space.
“There are certain responses that people do and you think that – ‘I am going to find an example of it so that I know what it is like to be in a space like that’. One of the key things is to work out for yourself, your prejudices and preferences,” says Kevin Hüi. Also, travelling with a companion would present you with the opportunities of looking at structures differently since the perception of spaces is different in everyone.
3. Where On Earth
After making a list of buildings, you may have to do in-depth research about their location. Aforementioned-resources will provide you with the city name, but not the exact location. Getting the exact location of the building within a city might be easier, than finding the location of a building in the suburbs or far away from the city. Google maps will give you an exact location, but sometimes the name of the building would be different from the name you are familiar with.
Kevin and Andrew suggest that at such times, relate the buildings with the site context. Information might also be available on the building’s website. Also, see for the visit timings. It would be pointless if you travel from far to the building and then get to know that the building’s timing is closed, or the building doesn’t allow visitors to enter!
4. Timing Is Crucial
While you search for the buildings, also see the timing of your visit and the experience you want to have. Many good buildings give a different experience at different times of day, according to the sun’s rays falling on the exterior and the interior spaces. You would not want to miss an opportunity to see the structure when the sun rays fall in a space that you wanted to get an experience of. So, make sure that you don’t reach there at a different timing when the solar angle changes.
Studying the building’s orientation and the solar angle of that area would help you plan in a better way. In some buildings, visiting in the dark hours when it is lit might also be valuable. Check out for the regional time too, which might not be the same as the time in the area you reside in!
5. Public Transport
Now that you have done thorough research on the above things, next would be to research how to get there. Kevin Hüi suggests taking a train wherever possible since communication would be easy at train stations. In local buses or other local transport, be prepared to convey the best location to the drivers, as they might not understand your language! Or you may not understand theirs!
He also suggests checking the timings of three buses after and three buses before the bus you have intended to travel in. You will get to know the frequency. You also don’t want to remain stuck somewhere or leave too early from there!
6. Document Hardcopy
Archimarathon’s important rule for planning architecture travel is to keep with yourself the PDF and the hardcopy of your documents. Yes. For the security check at the entrance. Also, taking with you the hardcopy of your itinerary, which has details of your program, name of other buildings in your list, architects’ name, timings, etc., would assure the security guard or the people in the building the purpose of your visit to be purely an architectural one. It would also help you in cases where visitors are otherwise not allowed in a particular building.
7. Packing Light
Imagine yourself travelling from one place to another with a heavy load on your back. You will get exhausted, won’t you? Kevin and Andrew suggest keeping your luggage weight to 40 kgs maximum. Since it would also be advantageous at the airports and you will be able to move from place to place without draining your energy.
They also recommended taking a shoulder bag as a wheelie bag isn’t a good option. Don’t forget to carry your daypacks too.
8. Lodging Logic
When selecting a place to stay in, it might at times get confusing because, on one side, you would want to stay in a luxurious boutique hotel, whereas on the other side, you might want to cut on lodging costs and stay in a cheaper hostel. But Kevin Hüi suggests that if you get an opportunity, spend money to stay in a hotel that will give you a unique experience.
“I can splurge on a 400 euros Zaha Hadid room, because where else will I ever experience it,” says Kevin. He adds to it by further saying, “Stay in something special of that particular city. Whether it’s a certain location, neighborhood, urban typology, or a certain type of building that is unique, you can’t get that anywhere else.”
9. Local Fun Times
Visiting only the buildings and not enjoying your time in the region would make you feel like an alien in that city. Experience the city, its culture, and food. Also, experience the transition between the notable spots. Research about the local cuisines and culture to get an essence of the city, and to understand the impact it creates on the urban fabric.
To conclude, I would say that it is important to do in-depth research and plan a trip so that you invest your valuable time in visiting buildings that you would like to experience. Experiencing such spaces will also widen your knowledge about the subject.
Now that you have Kevin Hüi’s tips ready to hand, you are all set to plan a trip to visit architecture that you want to experience!!
- “Archimarathon.” Archimarathon, https://www.archimarathon.com
- Archimarathon’s 9 Rules For Architecture Travel Planning and Why It Matters– YouTube