19 Things To Know Before Starting Architecture School
- You’re in a Permanent, NO WAY OUT, Relationship.
Yes. You need to understand this, absorb it, and create your own mantra out of it. You are taken for LIFE. You will be in a permanent relationship with Architecture. You need to realize this, and even announce it to your friends, family, acquaintances, basically everyone in your social circle. You are married !
- Insomnia is NOT a disease.
Before starting architectural school, remember to catch up all the sleep you can, because once you start your school it will only be a fragment of your imagination in a distant memory. All the sleeping hours are going to benefit you, staying up for days with just a couple hours of sleeping in between, you need to be ready for that. If you have insomnia, bravo! It is the key over here. Sleep Deprivation? Forget it ! So this is a positive point, if you have insomnia, you are doing it right. All of us have billions of last minute additions to make.
- Coffee is your best friend.
Trust me, staying up when people around you are sleepy is an important issue! Falling asleep usually ends up in you running late for submissions, and you DON’T want that at any cost. So, I have to introduce you to your new friend, “Coffee”, who helps you to stay up all the night, boosts your energy and keeps you charged.
- Be open to ‘Criticism’.
You are going to have countless crits ! So, be prepared !!
Architecture education is all about ‘criticizing’ your work, what else could this be for? Make a shield around you; All the while learn from it. Absorb it, and turn it into something productive. That’s the best of what you can do. It may not always be bad, listen to what the other person has to say. Develop your listening skills.
- Existential Crisis.
This is one of the major things you should be ready for. It’ll be customary to question your existence, once a day, twice a week, half a month, every other day of the year. Especially after a crit. It’s okay. You are doing the right thing, don’t worry. This is how it is.
- Sleepless night or Power Nap
The coffee might help you, but you need those power naps. DO NOT MISS THEM OUT. Otherwise you are going to end up blabbering stuff the next day. You might think you are funny, but trust me; you won’t be making sense to the other person. They will think that you have gone bonkers and have lost it. You won’t even remember what you have said half the time. You will have mood swings and be edgy. Really, take the NAP; you don’t want to do all this during your jury !
- Treat yourself.
You need a healthy diet to help you survive the strenuous day. Make it a point to consume fresh fruits and vegetables now and then, preferably in the morning. I munch a lot while working, the crisps and chips and the dips. The carbohydrate intake is quiet high, and it increases exponentially as the date of the jury comes closer. Goodness, it is disastrous for your health. A little fiber in your diet is very much necessary. ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,’ it’s true !
Once in a while, to unwind, go to a fine dining restaurant and treat yourself.
- Invitations to parties.
Before I’ve got into architecture school, my colleagues were inviting me to their birthday parties, but when I started college, I had too much work to do. So, the discussion I was to have, as a result, Why I could never make it to those parties. By time, the number of invitations I got, reduced, and when I asked my friends why I wasn’t invited, they would reply with a hint of sarcasm, ‘oh! We thought you had a studio. You never come anyway.’ But I couldn’t blame them. It was true.
So you better be ready for this. It’s not that you would regret it, surely you will miss out on some stuff, but please remember our first point? That should be enough to console you. You are, after all, in a relationship with architecture. So don’t mind them, you will make friends that will be your buddies forever after, because they will go through the same ordeal. Party with them, you will meet your school fellows in the vacations !
- Trips/ Study Tours.
After a project ends everyone needs a break, where you aren’t chained to a chair or a desk, plan trips with your class and teachers, it’s mandatory. Make it a study tour and go visit historical sites, areas with interesting geography which help you relax. After days of bending over your laptop staring at screens, one needs to unwind and de-stress and traveling to exotic places is the best way. This even helps you bond with your advisors and fellows, who you probably thought were creepy. You listen to music, talk and have dialogues with people you couldn’t relate to before. (I come across some of the best people in my life because if this). Plus anything can inspire you anywhere at any time, so why not?
10. Bond with your teachers.
You will need to do this ! The more you talk, even if about random things, it is going to be easy for you to discuss your work with them. 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 it can be harsh, and you might not always agree with them. But this will only help you make your argument stronger. They will have ideas and opinions, listen to them. But at the end of the day, do what YOU want to do.
You might have thought that enrolling to an architectural school wouldn’t help you writing that much, and it would just be all visual or working on a computer 24/7. Well you, my dear, are in for a reality check. Writing is very much obligatory/necessary/compulsory. Keep a note book with you at all times, and write whatever you are thinking. Inspiration could strike you anywhere ! You may need these ideas later for your design concept. Just write, even if it’s a word. Write if someone says something, and you find it somehow relevant. Just write, because you wouldn’t want to regret not remembering something important.
While you are writing, you will need to sketch as well, because let’s face it, you are an artist, and you can express yourself best when you sketch. You need to sketch and sketch to help you understand your forms, lines and spaces. Remember, you won’t be writing much on your sheets, but your sketches are going to be up there. This helps you to have a strong command on your hand. Where writing helps you have a clarity of ideas, the sketches help you visualize those ideas.
13. Your first plan is trash.
The sooner you realize this, the better. When you are applying to any architectural school, regardless of the area, remember, your first design proposal is going to be ‘REJECTED’. It’s an unsaid rule,so don’t be heartbroken and don’t go into a silent depression. Don’t let the dejection get to you. The teachers or advisors are going to be drawing over your plans and sketches; they will break your model from here and there. This, my friends, would last for ever as long as you are in architectural school ! You will never be done developing your ideas, even few minutes before your final jury!
14. Postures and Backaches.
Recently, a friend of mine got really sick. She couldn’t walk nor sit! She had a severe backache a couple of days before the jury, though she had been complaining about it for weeks, but it took its toll on her. She was on best rest for a good two weeks.
The reason? It was her posture. Crouched and bending over her models for hours and hours, she got the severe pangs. Her posture, according the doctor, was the worst of all.
So remember, lie down and straighten your back every couple of hours or so. Keep a cushion in your studio, a table and with a comfortable chair so that while you are making models or working on your laptop for long hours, you at least have a good comfortable back support.
15. Music is your companion.
When you are working in your studio, and your friends are away, and you don’t want any disturbance, you’ll be listening to music, and hopefully the choice is good. Music will help you get through and not to get bored. After all, silence will only make you dose off, and random friends gossiping will be a distraction. In our carrier, its well known that background music seems to help architects focus more while working, which is weird for other people !
16. There is no Pot of Gold at the end.
Please, if you are delusional that you will get paid well as soon as you graduate, get this idea/thought out of your mind. No you won’t be Frank Gehry or Zaha Hadid Architects as soon as you are out. You need to work hard after graduation for that, for many many years. Life of an architect is NOT easy.
17. Its Hard.
Yes, it is. As the years have passed by, I wish I knew how hard this was. I would have done some research, studied some of the architecture, read up on history before I started the school. This would have made a huge difference to my life. Knowing the theory only helps you understand the little details with increased level of clarity. It helps you in your conceptual designing, and would make you develop stronger valid arguments. There is already so much research you have to have to do, plus you have to go through the list of readings assigned by the teachers. Its hectic, and you end up falling down !
Photograph everything and anything. Document all the data you have even the crappiest of sketches. Photograph those study models and models from each and every angle. Photograph while you are going somewhere or anywhere. Just keep on snapping pictures. It will help you with your portfolio and your projects and you will be surprised by the end of all of that. These images are going to be your treasures and they would be worth every second.
Remember, this is the thumb rule. Back-up all your data, all your files, everything. Even that little, tiny and crappy sketch you drew on a torn piece of paper. And make a habit out of this. Because with the kind of softwares we work with, you never know when your system will crash. You also don’t know which USB will actually bring the virus that will destroy everything. I have seen people miserable at the last minute, because they lost their data and ended up not giving the crit. You, literally, DON’T want that.
Have a happy architectural life, once you love it, you can never hate it
Written By: Hajira K. Qazi – Edited By: Ibrahim Abdelhady