Architecture is a beautiful mix of art and engineering. This field can be so satisfying yet overwhelming. There was multiple times when I had no idea what I was doing but in the end I was always happy with my works ! This is a really wide field (which is awesome and scary at the same time!) and there are so many things you can do that you are going to learn along the way. I always wanted to be an architect. But there are things that you can not know without entering this school.
Here are 15 things architecture school taught me (according to my own experience of course!).
Working hard and smart – 15 things architecture school taught me
As I said, architecture is a huge field. It contains a lot of things as observing, planning, designing, rendering.. But also sketching, modeling, drawing, detailing,.. And also presenting, explaining, defending, convincing,.. You will have to do a lot and to learn along the way how to do it! I mean there are so many different ways to do just one thing! So you will keep learning about architectural softwares, materials, drawings, innovative and creative solutions, communication, presentation etc. and the list goes on.
If you wish to be successful then you must be prepared to spend a lot of your entire time studying. Sometimes even the nights (last nights before the deadlines!). Your family and friends will not always understand why you are always busy or sleepy. This is not an easy field. Being inspired and staying organized helped me a lot in getting through it!
Staying organized – 15 things architecture school taught me
Plan. Just plan everything. When you make plans of your days wisely, you will have time for anything. You will finish your projects before the deadlines, you will be able to sleep well, do sports and even socialize..
Many students spent their nights working but you don’t really have to. Just spending your studio hours for working will make you gain lot of times! Manage your time wisely. Finish most of your tasks while you are at school. In my case, I don’t feel good at all when I don’t sleep, so I just couldn’t imagine myself spending a whole night working on a project then go to the studio at the morning looking like a zombie.. So I was always organizing my time in order to not feel overwhelmed.
Another important thing is that during the last days before submission anyone can get stuck and spend hours on useless details while every minute count!
Make a good plan of everything you have to do in order to complete your project. Write first the most important tasks, this is going to help you to focus.
There are also things that you can not always control like laptops stop working, softwares crashes etc.. so many things happen before the submission. Be prepared!
Find Inspiration – 15 things architecture school taught me
The hardest part for me during the developments of my project was always the beginning. Finding ideas and good concepts. For this, I need some times to be finally able to start! One of the thing that helps me always is Pinterest. This site is just amazing for design and decoration. It just makes you want to do everything! Scroll through different pictures to get inspired. See what others did. Do not copy anything, just get inspired. Those ideas will give you other ideas.
Visiting beautiful places
Walk around. Discover beautiful buildings in your city where you can personally look at the amazing and incredible architecture and designs. If you can, travel, go visit the world, there are so many things to see and discover!
I believe you can learn more by seeing and experiencing rather than learning from books.
Sketching anytime anywhere
I have heard so many times ”But I dont know how to draw..” Nobody is expecting you to make perfect drawings. You just need to sketch in order to capture or show your ideas.
You need to sketch to help understand your concepts, lines, and spaces and visualise your ideas. It is hard to get started but believe in yourself, take a pen and sketch anything!
Take a sketchbook with you wherever you go, you never know when the inspiration will strike!
Solving problems with creative and innovative ideas
The big picture is fun to look at and dream about. What will make up the whole will be the implementation of the architectural details. Sometimes, those details can be very hard to deal with and it requires a lot of attention. Most architects do not enjoy this part but this is actually what will make the difference!
Usually, your design will keep changing according to these details that you will have to solve quickly with creative and innovative ideas.
Learning by yourself
Don’t expect your professors to explain you everything! Of course, they will surely help you in your projects. You will get to know them, and your ideas will mature under their mentorship without you realizing it. They will provide you with constructive criticism, and although sometimes you might not always agree with them, this will only help you make your argument stronger.
So yes, they are going to help you with your concepts and ideas, but they won’t teach you all different softwares (SketchUp, Lumion..) etc. You will have to learn how to make researches, how to make models, renders.. and how to present your projects during the juries. All by yourself.
You will always be learning even after your graduation. Learn to learn by yourself.
Being prepared to criticism
No project is perfect. Architecture education is all about ‘criticizing’ your work. Make a shield around you, take the critics and learn from them. Absorb them, and turn them into something productive. That’s the best of what you can do.
I know it’s hard. I remember being so frustrated after some of my juries. Perhaps the real benefit of jury reviews is for you to learn the art of speaking publicly with confidence. Respect what others have to say and consider their suggestions if they are beneficial for your project.
They will have ideas and opinions. Good and bad. But at the end of the day, do what you want to do. Don’t give up. Those critics are only made to make you get better.
This skill will not just help you survive architecture school but many of life’s other challenges.
You are going to have countless critics! So, be prepared!
Learning to talk and socialize!
Although I was really social, I had difficulties to present my ideas sometimes! I loved spending hours in drawing-planning-modeling-rendering but I wasn’t really good at explaining! This is a really important point though!
Believe me.. I have seen really bad projects being liked just because it was well presented.
If you want to sell you ideas and convince your clients, then you need to learn how to talk and make good presentation.
Developing your ideas again and again
You first idea changes a million times before finding your final project. The sooner you realize this, the better. Don’t think that if you finish your project quickly in the second course, your professors will just accept it and you are going to be free for the rest of the semester. They will make you question you concepts and ideas, they are going to be drawing over your plans and sketches, they will break your model from here and there..
You will never be done developing your ideas, even a few minutes before your final jury!
Backing up and documenting
Ok now, this is really important!! Back up all your datas, all your files, everything. And make a habit out of this. Because you never know when your system (and softwares) will crash. You also don’t know which USB will bring a virus that will destroy everything. Some students get miserable at the last minute because they lost their data and end up not going to the juries.
Also don’t forget to take photos of everything along the way, your models, your sketches, your travels etc.. You will be surprised at how these can be helpful for your projects and portfolios (and even for memories!)
Updating your portfolio
The portfolio is important, so keep updating it as you move on. Some of your professors may ask it or you might need it for finding internships and entering some competitions.
This is also going to help you realize how much you have improved since your first project!
Show yourself – 15 things architecture school taught me
Don’t be afraid to show your inner self. Don’t try to copy others. Get always inspired but never copy. Let your heart and mind guide you through the process. Pay attention to your own behavior and architectural style, know who you are, and move on accordingly. This can take time until you find your own style but this is going to make you stand out.
Take care of yourself
During these years, there were multiple times where I had no idea what professors where expecting from us. I had no idea how to start a project, and even how to finish a project. Now that I think about it, I feel like I have stressed so many times for nothing.
Nothing is more important than you. Take care of your physical and mental health. Do not stress too much. Find a comfortable chair when making models or working on your laptop for long hours, so you have at least a good comfortable back support. Remember to stretch your back every couple of hours also. And of course after days of bending over your laptop staring at screens, just rest and do things that make you relax and happy. Treat yourself after the juries. Do not over drink coffee. Practice some physical activities. Find times for vacations.
So yes, these are the things I have learnt along the way.. Overall, trust the process without feeling too much overwhelmed. These years are just amazing and you will probably remember them all your life! You will pass the semester anyway. At the end, you will look back at your old projects and be proud of your works!
So, just enjoy! This is an amazing field!