If you haven't quite committed to studying architecture yet, you might also want to think about why you might study architecture, what architectural graduates do (hint: not just architecture!) and what the other career outcomes are.
Geting the information to make your choice
Having decided what to study, the next difficult task is figuring out where to study it - with a range of related but slightly different courses on offer, each with their own special locations, teaching methods, and possible outcomes.
So if you're in a position of knowing little or nothing about architecture, the university system, or how the two fit together, how do you make a selection? There is so much to think about, and that's great, because getting information is the best way to get on the path to making a great decision.
FOCUS YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE 4 KEY aREAS
When you start finding out about architecture schools, the amount of information and things to weigh up can be overwhelming. My advice? Focus your thinking into these four key areas:
Your circumstances, your values and goals, and your skills. These are the most important things to think about, because they will change how you evaluate the other three areas.
- PROGRAMME & UNIVERSITY.
What the school offers, how it delivers it, and the people you will befriend, learn from and be mentored by are all important here. Looking at University websites is a great place to start.
It will cost to study - and the more upfront you are about it, the easier to plan your way through. It's not just the Course Fees either - you'll need to live somewhere, eat, buy books and other project supplies. Figuring out ways to fund this, including scholarships or part-time work, can open doors for you and your choices.
Opportunities are the things that go above and beyond the day-to-day of study. What can you while at university, what overlaps might become available, and what doors will open once you leave?
This article is part of our series on key Architectural Concepts. You can check out the rest of the series here, and if you have any questions or comments about your experience with programme, leave a comment below!
What is Programme?
Programme, put simply, is what happens on or within a building, site, or wider area.
It's the activities and functions of the building - from the everyday public activities to the periodic maintenance requirements. In practice, programme often refers more specifically to how the elements, zones and spaces are organised.
In this article, I will look at what programme is, and how you can use, test, and have fun with it in design. I will also explain some basic ways of thinking about programme on your project, and different techniques architects often use to explore and explain programme.
While there's an element of luck* involved in the architecture crit scenario, I truly believe that having 'a good crit', like many things in life, is all in the preparation.
With that in mind, here are my TOP 7 WAYS TO PREPARE FOR YOUR CRIT
* luck isn't really the right word here. What I mean is that in any scenario that involves other human beings, there is always an element of the unpredictable. You can't control every aspect of the situation.
1. HAVING A 'GOOD CRIT' STARTS AT DAY 1
No, I'm sorry, you can't start to prepare to have a great crit the night before!
At that stage, you're in ambulance-at-the-bottom of the cliff territory. And, while you can implement some of the strategies below and see some improvement on where you might have been, you'll never be able to resurrect your crit to the level it could have been if you'd begun preparation earlier.
And the people who tell you they did no preparation are the ones who have actually been preparing - subconsciously - the whole time.
Some people treat preparing for their crit as a separate exercise, a separate box to check in their list of things to do to get the project completed. To me, this makes no sense.
Why? Because having a 'good crit' is fundamentally about having a rigorous project...and being able to communicate that rigour. And that starts at day one, not one day or even one week out from crit day!
It's nearing the end of the University semester, which means wherever you are, if you're an architecture student, you're probably preparing for presentations, reviews, juries or 'final crits'. This time of year looks like epic production, crazy schedules, and getting creative with your presentations. But the closer it gets to your presentation date, the more it means one thing: nerves.
In this post I'm going to cover the age old question that prospective architecture students, parents, and friends-of-architecture-students want to know:
What is a 'crit', exactly?!
We'll jump into:
- What a crit is;
- Why we do them at architecture school;
- When you can expect to be involved in one;
- Who takes part, and the roles they play; and
- How a crit plays out.
Mental health issues and the plight of stressed-out architecture students have been at the forefront of my mind these last few months, after a survey published in the UK magazine 'The Architect's Journal' (AJ) suggested that about a quarter of architecture students are suffering from mental health issues.
It's not hard to see that that's a pretty large proportion. It's hard not to be concerned. And, it's underlined by an even more significant proportion of students who have either sought help for mental issues in the past, or think they will be likely to in the future.
But to me, putting these statistics on the table is only the first step. The real question is what do they mean? What are they a reflection of? How can we begin to change things? And, whether you're at, or perhaps thinking about going to architecture school, how can you support and look after yourself, so you can live your dreams to your full potential?
There are quite a few things you don't get taught at architecture school. You can't, and shouldn't expect to learn everything there ever was to know about architecture in a period of about 5 years.
THE UBIQUITOUS LIST
Lists of things you don't learn at architecture school are pretty popular on the internet. I've certainly clicked through to a fair few in the past: 101 things on ArchDaily, 10 things on Architizer, 11 more on Arch20.
They're often humorous, yes. But what you'll also notice is that these kinds of articles usually offer a long, long list made up of sound bites and pretty obvious things you might not learn at architecture school, but you'd hope you'd learn by just operating in the world as an inquisitive human being!
So I didn't want to just add to that whirlpool of consumable lists. Instead, I'm bringing you a new series: 5 things you won't get taught at architecture school. Each edition in the series will cover a different theme.
This week, we're starting things off with: 5 things you won't get taught at architecture school: the work edition.
"So, what do you learn at Architecture School, anyway?"
It's a simple question, but it's also the one I am asked most often, both by readers of Portico and by anyone who happens to know I studied architecture: friends in different fields, family members, and people I've just met. It sometimes seems like everyone is interested in architecture, but no one knows quite what it is or exactly how you go about doing it.
That's why it's a fairly understandable question, really. Most teenagers won't have met an architect, let alone understand what they do every day, or what you might need to learn to become one.
Funnily enough though, my answer is never that in Architecture School "you learn to draw plans," or "you learn how to build houses." As Gary Stevens writes in The Favored Circle, it's not about learning to "do architecture."
But I also don't usually respond that "you learn to become an architect." Instead, my most-used line is:
at architecture school you learn two things:
first, how to think architecturally; and then
how to apply your architectural thinking.
ATELIER BOW WOW
Atelier Bow Wow is a Tokyo-based Architecture firm founded by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kajima in 1992. They are one of the most innovative, original and productive architecture firms of the present day.
At the heart of their work is a deep curiosity in how people occupy space, and how we build relationships with one another through space.
Their investigations lead them across scales - from the ephemeral communal bicycle dining experience to an analysis of the typologies and changes of the vast urban fabric of Tokyo city.
Perhaps because of the breadth of their work, and the depth and intensity of their investigations across scales, it’s difficult to pinpoint what they are best known for.
THE INFAMOUS GROUP PROJECT
AT ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL
how do you feel about group work?
It's a contentious question - I know.
In my experience - both as a student and as a teacher - there are two kinds of people at architecture school:
- those who love group projects; and
- those who begin trembling with anxiety at any mention of working with others.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one bad group project experience to tip those in the first group into the latter group. And going back the other way isn't such an easy slope to climb.
You think you're at architecture school to develop your individual creativity, your unique architectural potential, and to realise your dreams. And you are. But how you develop your sense of self is intricately connected to how you relate that self to others, how you communicate your ideas, and how you can identify personalities and skills to complement your own.
group work and architecture school
Increasingly, Architecture schools are turning away from the image of the individual Architect. Instead, their aim, in varying degrees, is to enable students to be widely engaged professionals, with advanced collaboration skills and abilities to interact with a range of other people - from coworkers to children to lawyers, clients and consultants.
THE BELIEVABLE ARCHITECTURE PROJECT
Construction basics for Architectural Students
Concept is concept right?
It doesn’t need to be structurally or constructionally viable, right?
WELL, YES AND NO.
Yes, one of the joys of architecture school is that not all your thinking needs to be shaped by the realities of what is constructible, or fits within a certain budget. In at least some of your design studio projects you're free to dream and explore and push boundaries and enhance your learning by finding your own limits.
But, when your drawings have glaring inadequacies in the construction or structural department, your tutors, critics, peers and clients will be distracted from the really rich, well-considered and revolutionary aspects of your work.
AND THAT'S ABSOLUTELY NOT WHAT YOU WANT.
your aim is to make your architectural concept believable.
The ‘gap’ between university and practice is a hot topic of discussion in the architectural community worldwide. A large part of this discussion focuses on scrutinising everything that Architecture School doesn't teach you - but practice does. The phrase I've heard architects and graduates use time and time again when talking to students is that:
"You'll learn more in your first year of practice than you ever did in architecture school."
It's true there’s things you won’t learn at Architecture School. But let me ask - did you really plan on studying for 5 years, and then learning nothing more and just going through the motions day in and day out for the next 45 years? Probably not. I certainly plan on - and revel in - learning something new every single day. On the flipside, that doesn't mean I don't value my time at architecture school immensely.
It's interesting to me how much my perspective on learning about architecture, and about what is important, changes over time. After a few years in practice now, I feel like I'm fairly well positioned to assess, from my own experience, not just what but also how I learnt at university, versus the what and how of learning in practice.
And to me - the idea that you'll learn more in 1 year of practice in an architecture firm than you will do in 5 years of study just isn't true. It's a myth.
THE MYTH OF LEARNING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE
This post isn't about content - the quantifiable 'stuff' you learn - in either situation, or about how well architecture school 'prepares' you for practice. Instead, I'm going to unpack for you:
- why I think it is a myth that you learn more in practice;
- the conditions that perpetuate this myth; and
- why it's a dangerous way to think - not matter what stage you're at in your journey.
I hope that in doing so, you'll understand that it's just a myth, and doesn't have to be your reality!
Instead of falling prey to the myth, you can choose to be strategic in your education, and take the driving seat in your architectural journey.