A valuable lesson every architect student should teach THEMSELVES
In my office, we predominantly do residential work. I’ve never worked on anything else, but I have heard faint whispers that once upon a time we did do some commercial work (I think its a lie).
At uni the story was the complete opposite; we spent most of the time doing pavilions – a type of building to this day I have never been into and experienced. This for me is a fundamental error in the way BA architecture is taught; how can a student come to grips with the world around them without first exploring the relationships they know best, ie there home.
Without being aware of it, we all fundamentally appreciate how we interact with buildings, and the most familiar spaces to us are our homes. What we are not so familiar with is why we move, interact with and use our spaces at home. We subconsciously are aware how much space we need to move through a room or to open a door, yet putting that into a figure, to interpret it into a new usable space is hard for those beginning their studies. Teaching techniques to help students understand their most immediate surroundings should be paramount on the curriculum.
I wish that my university had related the very first project we did to our own homes, or a room in our homes. Allowing us to measure the space, understand the relationships between the walls and the furniture, the sill height and the finished floor level. Instead of this informative, constructive logical first project we built costumes. Not so helpful. Working with a current known space, converting it into something else is the perfect way for students to not only work with spaces they appreciate, but to also familiarise themselves with the benefits of adapting spaces for clients. This is after all what I spend the majority of my working day doing, familiarising myself with the needs of the client, and realising the perfect home for them.
At my practise today I’m working on an internal room rearrangement and a side/rear/loft extension with green wall (2 separate projects). Understanding these spaces and how the clients and their families can use the spaces is paramount to their success.
So today my wish is simple: Students, go home and experience real architecture. Familiarise yourself with the space you occupy at home, to better inform the work you do at university. The benefits will be clear as you progress throughout your career.