Before the Covid-19 pandemic, architecture programs were filled with creative students and inspiring work from professors. When walking into a studio building, you would never find an empty desk, as students diligently work on their projects. There would be constant chatter from students and professors, as well as the sound of tools working and the clicking of keyboards. The critiques and lectures that took place were an essential part of understanding architecture and elevating student’s design processes. But all that changed when the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world and inevitably disrupted architecture schools. Discussions now took place through chat messages or tedious zoom sessions. Project pin-ups were something that students looked forward to and allowed them to showcase their work. However, these times would only be displayed through the share-screen function. Case studies and site visits were also significantly altered by the pandemic. Rather than class visits to a site, the need to self-isolate forces those educational visits to be individual or through Google Earth. In a profession that relies heavily on communication between students and professors, architecture students will now have an uncharted experience that combines the aspects of architecture school with modern social technology.
With no other alternative, architecture students suddenly became tasked with making work and study environments in their own homes or off-campus locations. For students with unstable or very busy homes, this proved to be a more difficult task. Architecture students had to find a comfortable space where they could not only log into their classes but also have enough space for designing and constructing models if their class required it. They have to ensure that they have stable internet connections and will not be disrupted frequently by external figures and noises. Along with their new work environment, architecture students also had to find new ways to interact with their colleagues and gain feedback for their work. Previously, if a student wanted an outside opinion on their work, they could have approached each other. Because the pandemic did not allow students to remain in close contact, students must now seek feedback through other approaches, like class group chats, individual messages, or even breakout rooms.
Besides the physical change of moving to remote learning, architecture students likely had to modify their projects to be entirely digital. This includes models, sketches, renderings, and other drawings to optimize quality. While some professors prefer to see hand-drawn work, scanning tools, and photos, it could result in a reduction of quality when presenting online versus showing the drawing in person. Furthermore, at the start of the pandemic, most art and supply stores closed down. With no materials, some students and their families also faced abrupt financial hardship caused by the pandemic that put an additional strain on buying materials online. All of these reasons and more caused architecture schools across the world to approve only digital requirements, like 3D computer models and drawings done on software like Autocad and Photoshop. Students became rapidly familiar with modeling programs like Rhino and Lumion, gaining valuable skills in the software that they otherwise might not have acquired for another couple years. They also had the opportunity to become acquainted with rendering programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, a knowledge that can be used to develop their style of drawings and can be used in additional professions like graphic design.
The new requirements that Covid-19 placed on society have also had a massive impact in the design process of students. In addition to already common ideas taking place for a project, like materials, sustainable energy, and functionality, students must now face the task to make their design comply with Covid-19 regulations. They must be aware of how to avoid spreading the virus in never before seen ways, like avoiding materials or unnecessary additions that could create a breeding ground for viruses. Another aspect students may need to consider in their new designs is the use of space, in order to maintain social distancing guidelines. For architecture students interested in medical or hospitality projects, they must reconsider areas of the project that can be alternated into patient treating rooms or quarantine rooms. These are just some of the few characteristics that students are taking into account. The concepts that architecture students are creating now that relate to Covid-19 prevention may be a decisive factor in the prevention and spread of future viruses.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted billions of people across the world. It spread rapidly and took a heavy toll on countries everywhere. Educators and students were directly impacted by the pandemic as it shut down entire universities and forced staff and students alike into self-isolation. Governments mandated that classes be held remotely, including architecture classes that relied heavily on in-person lectures, communication, and showcasing work. While the current system of virtual learning for the profession is not entirely perfect and has its critics, students have been able to step out of their comfort zones and venture into perfecting their digital craft, develop new ways of interaction like breakout rooms and shared drives, and made them consider ways for their projects to enhance the quality and safety of the residents.