With the amount of time spent inside the studio during architecture school, it is understandable that students might witness the best and worst of both their peers and themselves during the course of a semester. Every little personality trait is amplified within this intense environment, one where competitive spirits are high and stress levels climb exponentially as the final project review nears.
This is an incredibly tough atmosphere to operate within. When the pressure is on, your best friend can be mistaken for your worst enemy, such is the irritation associated with witnessing such different work habits in incredibly close proximity. It’s worth remembering, though — your fellow students are the only ones who truly identify with your personal struggle through architecture school, and as such, it is worth building a greater understanding with them!
With this in mind, the following feature doesn’t just describe the most common types of architecture student you might encounter in architecture school. It also tells you what you can learn from each of them to help studio life be that bit more tolerable for both you and your plucky peers.
How many of these sound familiar? Let us know in the comments section below …
Avoiding your real project work can lead to scenes like this; screenshot from “Sh*t Architecture Students Say” by students at the University of Texas School of Architecture.
1. The One That Works Hard Doing Nothing
Everyone has the tendency to be this student occasionally, and if you’re completely honest with yourself, that includes you. Procrastination is a tyrant in the architecture studio, and usually strikes when one is suffering a creative block or has received some critical feedback from a professor that they aren’t sure how to react to. In our studio, the distractions were numerous and deadly — ping-pong, pizza breaks and pubs around the corner were all constant temptations to students with a perpetual need for stress relief.
There is nothing wrong with any of these in moderation, but don’t be the one who procrastinates themselves into the ground. Keep your eye on the architectural prize! Make a to-do list at the beginning of each day to help you keep on top of the tasks in hand, while remembering to allocate yourself a dedicated period of downtime — because even the most hardworking architects need a break once in a while.
2. The One That Never Sleeps
We have all been sucked into working late into the night on occasion, but there is always at least one student that makes a regular habit of it — and make no mistake, this is one unhealthy habit. While pulling all-nighters might help increase design time, concentration levels and creativity suffer immeasurably as a result. The intention here is good: This student is likely one of the more ambitious in the class, but it comes at a price if time-management skills are not their forte.
Of course, the idea that this type of student NEVER sleeps is a fallacy: They sleep, it is just not very high-quality sleep. Laying your head on a drawing board or across three swivel chairs at the back of the studio does not constitute real rest. To be truly productive, you are better off going to bed at least six hours a night, no matter how hard it is to drag yourself away from your laptop. Treat your course like a day job, with regular working hours and downtime at the end of each day. If you abide by this rule, you will find your efficiency increases and your project is ultimately more refined.
Even the hardiest of architects are defeated by the sleep demons in the end; screenshot from “Sh*t Architecture Students Say” by students at the University of Texas School of Architecture.
3. The One With the Magic Touch
No matter how late you stay in the studio and how many drawings and models you muster up for that crucial project review, one of your peers always seems to get more positive feedback for their project — even when they have produced far less presentation material. While this may cause some disgruntlement in the moment, it makes sense to reflect on exactly why this particular student appears to have the “magic touch.”
It is likely because they subscribe to the age-old mantra: Work smart, not hard. If carried off successfully, it is possible that a single model or carefully detailed section drawing could communicate your design idea more succinctly than 20 different plans and elevations. If you can find the right balance between quantity and quality, it might just be you that has the magic touch in the next project review.
4. The One Who’s a Technological Genius
There is also one student who seems to have been born with a tablet and stylus in their hands. This tech wizard is seemingly an expert with every piece of hardware available in the studio — if you need help with 3D printing, laser cutting, tablets and computers, this is the person to make friends with, fast. They are probably also the best architectural visualizer in your year, too — 3ds Max, Vray, Rhino and Photoshop are child’s play to them.
The question is: Do their ideas match up to their strong grasp of technology? Norman Foster summed it up perfectly when he declared that “the pencil and computer are, if left to their own devices, equally dumb and only as good as the person driving them.” Despite their amazing capabilities, modern-day hardware and software are still just tools, and in the hands of truly innovative students, a humble pen, brush or pencil can be just as powerful. Choose your creative weapon and wield it wisely!
The studio is for everyone — try not to encroach on everyone else’s space! Image via Odyssey
5. The One With the Overblown Ideas
There is always one student that, with the best intentions in the world, invades the space of every one of their peers with the sheer scale of their ambitions. You know the score: They book the laser cutter for three days straight to build the site topography for their project; they take up half the exhibition space in the studio with a 12-meter-long elevation drawing; they spread their work across five desks as they attempt to construct the world’s most intricate model.
Now, ambition is to be admired, but it’s also worth being considerate of your fellow students — you will find that adhering to basic studio etiquette wins you friends and some great collaborators along the way. As everyone must share the same studio, try to balance BIG ideas with an acknowledgement that everyone’s project is important to them, and they need time and space to perfect it just like you!
6. The Two That Always Work Together
OK, so technically we’ve included eight rather than seven types of students due to this entry … but in this instance, the two students in question are joined at the hip to the extent that they count as one. What might start as a friendship between two peers can develop into a strong and long-lasting alliance of architectural ideas. This type of organic collaboration often means that each student has a heavy influence on the other’s work in both individual and group projects.
Partnerships like these have their pros and cons — while it can be helpful to have a faithful friend to bounce ideas off of, you can also fall into the habit of relying upon or being overly influenced by the ideas of your collaborator. When the right balance is struck, though, architecture-school duos can be a powerful creative force, combining ideas and production capacity for the successful realization of even the most ambitious proposals. Just make sure you pick your partner wisely!
Plug in, drink a glass of water, take a deep breath and focus; image via wustl admissions carrick.
7. The One That Gets It Done
For all the bluster and boisterous enthusiasm of the students described above, there is always one that you barely notice — until the end-of-semester project review arrives. This quiet but studious student is the most dedicated of them all, managing to avoid the pitfalls of procrastination and achieving the mental clarity needed to bring their ideas to fruition for the final exhibition.
It is important to remember that socializing, critiquing and collaborating with your peers has huge benefits, helping to hone communication skills that will prove essential for convincing clients of your ideas in professional practice. However, when it comes to the crunch, being able to immerse yourself in your project and crystallize a concept in your own mind is vital to your success.
So, when you reach that critical moment, plug into your favorite music, drink a glass of water, take a deep breath and focus: You can do this.
Top image © thehobosapien on DeviantArt