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Setting Up a WFH Space

First of all, well done to everyone who managed to complete their studies online this year. It was an interesting experience, wouldn’t you say?  Due to the pandemic, cities went into lockdown, compelling educational institutes and public workspaces to be closed. This didn’t mean the world stopped functioning; we just had to adapt our lifestyle and carry on. For some people, it was easy, but for others, it was a little bit more than just typing on the computer. 

The architecture facilities at university are an essential part of education, it is not only the large studio space, but the computer labs, workshops and many other amenities other amenities that students need to access to. There are students who are already comfortable working from home. However, for a lot of students this was a new experience, which took some time getting used to. Let me assure you that none of us have experienced working from home quite like this.  

It is safe to say that, architecture students went into a slight mode of ‘uncertain panic’? Confused about how we were going to make models, how we were going to scan work, how tutorials would work etc. etc.  Nonetheless, we have finished and made it through; again, well done.  

With no vaccine, and a confused government, there is still much uncertainty in educational institutes. Many universities are considering to have everything done online for the 2020/21 academic year and many are considering to start online and then transition back to irl (‘in real life’) teaching. Watch our space for a guest post coming up to discuss the upcoming changes in September!

For the moment, the best and only thing you can do is prepare for the worst or best outcome. During this period, I would say I have made myself quite at home. To help you prepare for university, here are some tips that I picked up from my experience of studying architecture at home.

Set Up Your Space

Since you will be working from home, you need to find a space that is comfortable and suitable for your work. You are free to move around and it can become chaotic if you don’t settle on a general area. Make sure you keep all your equipment and materials organised and clean. Avoid working on the bed, it just won’t work out.

Drawing Space

It goes without saying that drawing is a fundemental part of who you are. You need to make sure you have a place to produce your large drawings since you won’t have access to the studios.

Drawing Table – The large drawings we produce, require large tables, (preferably with straight edges to hook on your t-square). You don’t need to buy a new table. As an architecture student, you learn to adapt and modify what you already have. The best way I found working was by using an A1/A0 MDF board. Anywhere between 10-20mm is thick enough to tape down your paper and hook your t-square. You can buy a board from almost any home depot construction stores like Wickes or even on Ebay and Amazon.  

If you have a large table you can place your MDF board on that. If you don’t, you can buy blocks to place under the board or place the board on a few large text books on the floor. Nothing beats working on the floor on your favourite rug. Have a look at our post for recommended drafting and modelling equipment.

Digital Space

This is the space, for most students, once you develop your skills from first year. Most students from 2nd year will spend a lot more time on the computer using CAD software for drawing, rendering, portfolio set up etc. Using your laptop to check emails and casual work is totally different from spending 12 hours setting up drawings and rendering. It is really important you have a set up that you are comfortable to work with. 

Here are a few factors to consider: 

Posture

You will be sitting for a long time, try to take a break every 15 minutes, but you, as well as I know, that it can be very easy to be sucked into work. Especially during deadlines. 

This can cause serious damage to your body, and you don’t want to be feeling like a grandparent before you have even started your life. I am no physio therapist, but this is an excellent post which will help you with posture. You don’t need to buy anything extra, everything is possible with what you have already. Certain devices can make a difference. I really suggest to buy an ‘Ergonomic’ mouse; a game changer. They are available at most tech stores and online.

Wrist support You can buy a support cushion for your ‘mouse wrist’ and a keyboard rest as well. Or as an architecture student why not make one yourself? There are plenty of tutorials out there.

Eyes

Take. Care. Of. Your. Eyes. It goes without saying that you need to take care of your eyes, but we all need that reminder now and again. I highly recommend either installing a blue light filter or buying a pair of anti blue light glasses, these are widely available anywhere and are not prescription glasses. Here is a post which summarises what is blue light and how it affects us. 

Dry eyes -Staring at screens can also dry your eyes, I found that my eyes would sting or itch after long hours of work. Two simple things that helped me were to use a cool eye gel under the eyes or leave two tea spoons in the fridge and just place that over your eyes. As alien as it sounds, it does work. Alternatively you can also look into hydrating eye sprays that are widely available from opticians and pharmacies. 

Laptop/Desktop

Without getting too technical, a good desktop or laptop is  essential if you are going to be working from home.  The software you will be need a lot of power and doing all your work on a computer that’s not built for it may put you at a disadvantage. The core factors to consider are: RAM, Graphics card, Processor, Hard Drive and Screen Size. 

You don’t need to buy a super expensive ultimate PC or laptop, there are plenty of laptops within a reasonable price range, which will get the job done.  This is quite important and I can’t cover everything here, we’ll go into the details of computers in a later post. But in the mean time there are a lot of other articles out there for suggestions, be sure to have a browse and reach out to us if you have any questions! 

Screen Extension Having a screen extension is super useful but not everyone has the space or the funds for an additional screen. If you have a tablet, there are screen extension programs such as Spacedesk that connect your device to your computer. Since it is wireless, expect it to lag slightly but it works great if you need to have a reference image to the side while you draw or model work. 

Headset – you don’t need a super headset; just make sure you have a good pair of headphones and a mic that works so you can have productive online tutorials and meetings 

Photography

Don’t panic if you don’t have a high tech camera. You can always buy a standard DSLR or use your phone. If you don’t know anything about cameras, this post will help you get started.

Next, you might ask how do I use a camera? There are several important features to consider when taking photographs. Below we’ve linked a brilliant video which explains how to use your camera and what to consider. These principles can also be applied with phone photography and will significantly improve the quality of your photos if you understand them.

Lighting

Table lamps work fine, I tend to use two or even the phone torch in some cases.  But nothing beats natural sunlight. Note the time of day you take photographs – because natural lighting can often work best when photographing models. If you set up a reflector you can create soft shadows. You can use white card, foam board or even a bed sheet as a reflector. 

Backdrop

The backdrop is very important. If you have a clean background, it will minimise the post editing process and you will have more control over the shadows. Most models are photographed with either a white or black background; you might be tempted to use different colours or textures but that all depends on your concept.

In general the background should be plain so the focus on the image is your model. Setting up a backdrop depends on the size of your model and on the space around you. Your usual options are to photograph your model on the floor or on a table.

For the backdrop you could:

  1. Get a large sheet of paper or a bed sheet which can be taped/pinned to the wall- this should be long enough to provide a base and backdrop
  2.  Use A1 Card as a background and base

If you have small models you could also make yourself a photography booth.

Stability

Make sure you have some way of setting your camera in a stable position. It makes all the difference.  Tri-pods are made exactly for this reason. If you plan to only use your phone for photography, then you could purchse a phone tripod; however you will be constricted by height and position. It’s good for minituare models but you might struggle to capture larger models.

I suggest you have a regular tripod (you can buy an additional phone mount to attach) and a phone tripod, so you have the best of both. It doesnt have to be an industry level tripod- The Hama Star 700 tripod available on Amazon or Ebay is a standard tripod, easy to use and can be packed away easily. Alternatively, you can place your camera or phone on a pile of books. 

Model Making

Your MDF board will come to use yet again. You can use one side for drawing and one side for model making. Essentials you need for general model making include:

  • Scalpel with 10A blades
  • Heavy duty glue
  • Glue gun + glue sticks
  • Masking tape + double sided tape
  • Set square
  • Metal ruler
  • Cutting mat

Printing and scanning

Even though you are not required to have a printed portfolio, don’t feel that your hand drawing or sketches can’t be used or have to be done on a4/3. You don’t need an A1 plotter. To scan larger drawings at home, you can use a scanning app on your phone. I tend to use CamScanner, which has no watermarks on the free version and gives you a lot of editing options. 

Alternatively, print shops have opened up. Their services maybe limited due to COVID-19 regulations, so it is worth calling to check.  If you are around Central London, Panopus Prints provides an amazing service for students – I highly recommend them.

All Set

You are probably sick and tired of hearing this, but it is true. We are living through ‘unprecedented’ times and at this point our generation don’t even know what to expect next; we just have to adapt to whatever comes our way. On that note, this guide should help to prepare your home-work space for the academic year ahead. Good luck!

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Why You Need to Be on LinkedIn Right Now

It’s a no-brainer that LinkedIn is the platform for professionals including architects. LinkedIn is wonderful for more than just making connections. It has a great job board that links to your own profile as well as the opportunity to join groups, follow pages created by companies and show off your work. We’ve previously discussed that being on Instagram as an architecture student can be quite useful to showcase the process of your work, get it on a platform and look at other student or university accounts.

But LinkedIn is far different than Instagram in terms of content. When you look at popularity though, it is growing and may even have the potential to overtake Instagram at some point. Recently, there has been growing concern regarding employment as a whole post-pandemic. There isn’t a fixed position or route that can be taken so many fresh graduates are in an unprecedented position.

Apart from letting recruiters know that you are on the job hunt, LinkedIn is useful for a number of things. Let’s start with your profile. You have the chance to include your experiences, skills and even link or upload your portfolio. Almost every architecture firm is on LinkedIn, so make sure you’re following them and engaging in their posts. Sometimes they may even post an opening which you can apply to directly through LinkedIn.

Other types of content include 📹videos and 📝articles which could also be a good way to get your work across and create an online presence. Maybe you could write a short article about something that interests or concerns you within architecture and post it directly on to LinkedIn. If your projects involved multimedia such as videos or animations, you could upload those on to LinkedIn as well. The best way to do this though is by carefully curating the work you are posting. It’s not like Instagram where you can be carefree and informal – make sure to use key hashtags that are relevant and be professional in your captions.

Even if you do upload your portfolio to LinkedIn, it might not be a good idea to link this everywhere since employers will most likely take a look at your profile near an interview stage. Make sure that your portfolio shines 🌟 through as a PDF file.

Networking is essentially the main goal of LinkedIn. This is the perfect time for you to connect with your peers, tutors, lecturers, and their connections, respectively. Don’t go overboard with this as there is a limit of 500 connections so make sure you choose carefully. It may be a good idea to connect with architectural recruiters as they often post about new opportunities which you can talk further about through an email or call. As you grow in your career, you might find individuals with similar interests who might prove to be useful in the future.

The way the LinkedIn algorithm works is quite simple. It take a look at your existing connections, cross checks it with professions and interests and recommends other profiles and individuals who work in the same industry. It’s probably best to make connections with Part II’s if you’re a Part I or Senior Architects if you’re a Part II. Think about why they should connect with you as well. If you have something in common, it could be a starting point. If you need specific portfolio advice, look for people who may be providing this for free – yes there are people doing this on LinkedIn.

Getting your name out there is so crucial. Please do not be one of those people who doesn’t have an image attached to your profile! It is so important to connect a name to a face. It can take 10 minutes to ask someone to take a nice headshot of you or even do it yourself. Make sure that the details on your profile are accurate, especially dates. The next thing to do is to have fun with it. Make it your own and start posting content so that employers see that you are active. You can engage with other peers, find about what’s going on in architecture these days and respond or have a healthy debate with someone.

The most useful part of LinkedIn is the 👔 job board. The best thing about it is that most if not all firms will most likely post a job opening on their LinkedIn page as well as their own website. The application part will depend firm to firm, but it might be possible to apply directly or be redirected to their application portal. The way to do this in the best way is to follow all the companies you think of and make use of the ‘similar pages’. Follow hashtags as well – specifically things like #architecture #architecturejobs #cvadvice etc. This will display a series of posts on your feed that can show you the top posts within these hashtags.

If you’re looking for specific career advice, we would recommend these 4 things:

  1. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully completed and you are regularly active (1 post a week)
  2. Follow people who are giving out advice or a chance to review your portfolio. Kirsty Bonner creates some amazingly helpful posts about optimising your profile as well as CV tips.
  3. Join Architecture Social – a network for students, graduates, and professionals where you can network and get specialised information, events and more.
  4. Join our 💬 Discord – we try to give some general advice for students on topics like designing your CV or where to find more useful information.

Overall, we can’t stress enough how important LinkedIn is. Make it a part of your social apps, move it over to the home screen and turn on notifications. LinkedIn is the place to post your achievements, career updates and network and it is the best steppingstone for many job opportunities. Remember, it’s not enough to create a profile and leave it at that. You need to be regularly updating and optimising your page so that you have maximum exposure.

Similarly, if you have your own business or blog, tell people about it on LinkedIn. Employers are very much interested in the things you do outside of designing buildings so that they can understand what kinds of hobbies you have, identify common talking points, and see how the skills you have in other areas can get transferred over.

We hope that you found this article useful, if you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below or say hello on Instagram and Discord. P.S obviously make sure to follow our LinkedIn page!

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Why are Mega-Drawings so Interesting?

Architectural representation is a visual method that architects use heavily to put forward their ideas and designs. It can range from something as simple as a paper model to a detailed mega-drawing. The purpose of these mediums is to create a design that can be realised for the future. You’re basically selling the idea, whether it’s to your tutors and peers or to a client. It’s all about taking the ideas in your head and putting them on paper. In university you’re given a lot of freedom to experiment with various representation styles and methods to increase your skills.

You might be asking; how do I start? Architectural representations don’t just have to be mega-drawings like we said earlier. These eye-catching visuals have been a part of architecture for a very long time which means it might be difficult to stand out and create something intriguing and new. They also rely heavily on your project and the outcome itself can be influenced by drivers in your design or certain themes. It’s essentially a work of art if you think about it. Plans, sections and even models can also transform into meticulous works of art.

Mega-drawings is the term coined for incredibly detailed images that are usually the culmination of a design project. They offer a visual look into a building without the technical detail that is found in regular drawings such as plans and sections. Many have linked this style of drawings to the likes of certain Bartlett or AA units however it is an increasingly popular style that is somehow mysterious and unachievable for most. We often find ourselves and other students asking, ‘how did they do that?’.

But these aren’t exclusive to certain schools and studios and the most important thing students need to understand is that we will eventually develop our own styles and ways of working which will be individual to each of us as a designer. Renderings or large-scale hand drawings also offer the same details and this particular graphical style normally found in mega-drawings is just a common style.

Eric Wong – Cohesion

But understanding what mega-drawings represent is crucial to being able to create your own. They don’t have to take a common form of coloured line drawings with texture and detail and can often be a series of renders, hand-drawn sketches or even a mixture of them all. We’ve got a pretty interesting Mega-Drawings board on our Pinterest that you can follow and pin. The purpose of such a drawing is to be able to gather the core values and design drivers in the project and be able to compose them in a visual way. In most cases, details such as colour, composition and even line-weights can be an important element of a drawing and there is definitely a lot of thought behind these features.

One thing we have discovered is that there is an overall lack of understanding behind these kinds of drawings and the methods or techniques used to achieve them. Bear in mind that they aren’t the only thing in your portfolio but simply a representation of the project. But really, these aren’t overly complicated to achieve, nor do they have some kind of secret formula. Creating final representations as a whole requires a lot of work, creativity, and patience. Usually we would start planning these a month or so before the final deadline and often work alongside other tasks for our portfolios. Sharing simple things such as software tips can actually lead to even more creativity and can help those who feel lost or uncertain on how to go about creating mega-drawings.

The same goes for other methods of representation. On one hand, they need solid groundwork put in beforehand as well as a high level of creativity. But they also require organisation and clarity within several ideas. Over the last few years, technology has opened up the way we represent our ideas and designs. Parametric design or virtual reality can create a different kind of response and have a spatial quality that might not be achieved through drawings. Adding in the current situation, it might be more difficult to create detailed models without access to specialist equipment and machinery or have enough space to create a huge drawing by hand. Now, we’re seeing architectural diagrams being represented through GIFs or short animations which can be an interesting way to go forward.

It’s no secret that techniques have evolved and branched off and will most likely continue to do so. However, one thing that remains is the way we approach these projects and how as a community, we can share our resources, tips, and advice to be able to give everyone the chance to try out a particular style or way of working. Mega-drawings have a wide appeal because of the level of detail, the immense thoughtfulness and perhaps the mysterious way of how it all comes together.

Personally, I have viewed these drawings as unachievable in the past and something that I might attempt during Masters, provided I have tutors who are able to guide me towards something like it. However, by taking on the task of updating my portfolio, I have realised that you don’t need to wait for action A to take place for you to be able to do action B. For me, the process of creating a relatively simple mega-drawing can be broken down into stages. If I were in university and had to work on this within 6 weeks, I would first identify each stage and estimate how long it would take and then get started on tackling each task one step at a time.

  1. Concept

By the time you get closer to deadlines, you need solid groundwork as we said before, but you also need to figure out and stick to a method of representation. Think about your project and it’s core drivers and then think which kind of representation would best suit it. For example, if materiality is an integral part of the project, you might choose to create a model that explores this. If the atmosphere or spatial qualities are of interest, you could try to replicate this through VR or a large scale composite drawing.

2. 3D Model

For mega-drawings, you will ideally need a 3D representation of the project which can act as a framework for a perspective view on the canvas. This is so that it can correspond with the other drawings and give you a place to begin. You can choose to model to a level of detail which suits you. If you just require the framework to act as a base for your hand-drawing, that’s fine. But if you’re aiming to create a realistic rendering, you will need to spend a lot of time working out the correct materials and environment settings.

3. Composition and colour

Factors such as colour and composition can play a huge role in what the final representation ends up like. For example, if your representation is influenced by illustrators or cinematographers, you could look at their colour palettes to achieve a similar result. These details need to be well thought-out and have some kind of meaning to it that adds to the overall experience of your mega-drawing.

4. Details!

Adding details to any form of representation is crucial. This might also be the stage that takes the longest but once it’s done it will give you a great satisfaction. In a mega-drawing, you might want to digitally draw in some details to give it a life-like quality.

These stages add up to make something that represents your ideas and project in a meaningful way. They will undoubtedly take a lot of time and hard-work, but the results can be so amazing. Architectural representation doesn’t need to be difficult or even set aside for later on in the project. Test out the ideas throughout and build your skills in other areas such as animation or graphical illustration.

A couple of months ago we had the delightful opportunity to work with Hamza Shaikh of Two Worlds Design in which he discussed his own series of drawings. This process was incredibly useful and so we are happy to announce that we will be curating a series called ‘Drawings Explained’ where we invite a series of emerging architects and students to take a further look into their architectural style and representation.

Hamza Shaikh – Ad Hoc Autonomy

If you’re interested in checking out how I created my own mega-drawing you can have a look on our Instagram Highlights or wait for the mega-tutorial where I take you through the exact process while explaining what worked and what didn’t. Leave a comment below if you will be attempting your own mega-drawing soon!

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Why Googling is the Answer to Learning Better

Learning a new software is never easy or quick. In fact, I’m still learning how to use Adobe programs even though I consider myself quite familiar with the array of tools and workflow. But Googling things has saved me a ton of time. 3D modelling programs can seem quite intimidating especially if you’re pressed for time and balancing other tasks. There’s a common question that comes with wanting to learn a new software, what tutorials did you follow? Or which course did you buy? I’ve found that tutorials and courses can be helpful in some cases but the best way to learn is to get hands-on with something and go through a trial and error stage to make yourself comfortable with the program. In this situation, being an expert Googler can be extremely useful.

You might be wondering; how could Google possibly help with learning a new software? If you know the correct questions and have the ability to skim read quick enough, chances are you will find the answer to the small problem you face and be able to repeat the process until you’ve gained a considerable amount of knowledge about particular commands or methods of completing an action.

My Experience

Over the past year, I’ve been wanting to learn all the software I was not previously familiar with. This included Rhino, Revit, Vectorworks and building on skills in AutoCAD. I had previously searched for Rhino tutorials myself, accessed some LinkedIn courses but none of them ‘stuck’ with me. Of course, if you’re provided with all the files, it would give you a hands-on experience, but you’d only be learning according to the teacher’s methods. Fortunately, I know 3DS Max quite well so already had an idea of the kinds of commands and tools I regularly use and had knowledge of what I can do with Rhino. However, those of you in first or second year might not have that same experience and whichever software you want to tackle first will surely be unknown to you.

Once I decided to update my portfolio (which meant re-creating the 3D model of my 2nd year project) I wanted to do it in Rhino so that I could properly learn the software and use it in a familiar setting. Usually you will be starting with various windows and taskbars of which some might be of use and some will not. Over time you can figure out which ones you need and don’t based on how often they get used. But the main point of this article is to explain that by Googling ‘how to close a polyline’ or ‘how to create a cylinder’ you can learn things quicker and retain them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I am an expert in Rhino or that I didn’t look at any kind of tutorials at all. However, by re-creating a project that I am well acquainted with, I found it easy to search for the things I wanted to do.

Method and Logic

The term ‘Googling’ is just a fun way of saying ‘Researching’. But you need to be able to do this quickly and efficiently. If you don’t know what you’re looking for or which problem you want to solve, it’ll be quite difficult for you. You basically need to simplify the question you’re putting into the search engine. Then, you need to spend less than half a minute looking at the first few results and going back and forth on each page till you start recognizing a similar problem or an answer of sorts.

Doing research in a very smart way will let you work at your own pace without having to sit there and learn something for an hour. Once the problem is solved, you can carry on with what you’re doing and repeat the cycle if needed. This is why I always keep open a new tab on Chrome which I can switch to and search my question and get Googling. Let’s go through a few examples.

I’ve been modelling in Rhino for a couple of hours and can figure out how to create 3D shapes, but I want to punch a cylindrical hole through a cuboid. First, I’d look for tools on the relevant task bars since it might just be in front of me. If I can’t find anything, I’ll open up Google and type in ‘how to punch shapes rhino’. Your vocabulary is also important here because if ‘punch’ doesn’t work you can try alternatives like cut, ‘make holes’. Then obviously you want to add the corresponding software which is Rhino in this case.

If you look at the first 3 results, any could work for what I’m searching for. Let’s say I click on the third result which coincidentally is the McNeel forum – from the people who created Rhino. Now I find that someone has posted this question already.

Now, scrolling down, I can see that two of the answers include the command BooleanSplit. If you understand the Boolean commands which are present in other 3D modelling software too, then this might just be the aha! Moment.

If you’re not familiar with the command, you can either mess around on Rhino if you’re not on a deadline or you could go back and Google ‘Boolean Rhino’. It doesn’t need to be a long-winded question like ‘what is the Boolean command in Rhino 6’. This waste seconds of time which surprisingly adds up over the course of years. So, making it efficient and clear is key.

This method doesn’t need to just apply learning a new software. It can be a great way to expanding your knowledge on all sorts of things or just to clarify something. If you struggle with writing you could search up ‘good writing techniques’. The format you choose to consume this knowledge is up to you. It could be a short YouTube video or a simple article or you might stumble upon a website that is all about writing techniques. Skim reading and matching the keywords in the Google results page is also important so that you don’t end up clicking on things that don’t relate to your problem or issue.

Googling, and being good at it is definitely a good skill to have in my opinion. It can make you learn better, faster, and more efficiently and you don’t need to rely on paid sources just to learn something. The Internet is full of information, no doubt so you need to start taking advantage of this and use it to your advantage. There are multiple communities and resources online that are made to be used by people to learn new things. Forums like Quora can also be a good place to find people who have similar questions as you and it’s just a matter of hoping someone has already found the answer.

Recently, I realised that Googling / researching is essentially a way of active learning. We only take in about 15% of the content consumed through media such as videos, lectures and webinars and even less if you’re not taking notes. So by Googling, you’re actively searching for the answer to your problem and having a hands-on experience with a software. Give it a try, a new kind of approach or alternative to those courses you’ve been wanting to do instead.

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Instagram Accounts to Follow for Architecture

Just like Pinterest, Instagram is a great resource for inspiration and is actually much more useful because you get to see exactly where the image is from. Over the years, architects, universities and architecture students have increasingly jumped on to Instagram to showcase their work. Often it becomes an online portfolio of sorts and can be a great way to share your work in progress or create an aesthetic feed for potential employers to be impressed by.

The way it is different to Pinterest is that you can trace back images to the people posting it and creating the work. You can’t forget the number of architecture firms that are also on Instagram so if you hear of one and want to see what their work is like; you can easily hop on to Instagram and find out. This is great for those wanting to potentially apply to work at these places too, and by showing a bit of enthusiasm, they might even consider you. Sometimes, these firms also post job openings on their social media first, so you don’t even have to look elsewhere. Apart from following the typical, mega-firms, it can be a good idea to follow the ones in or near your area to keep up with projects they work on.

If you’re living in a city like London, you probably know of the popular architecture schools around. But instead of just seeing their work at the end of year exhibitions, their Instagram accounts give you the chance to see work during the year. It’s also common for university accounts to feature your work, giving you more exposure. If you’re unsure of applying to architecture at university, it can be very helpful to check out a day in the life or see what kind of work students do.

Over a few months, we’ve managed to create and interact with a brilliant audience which has become a community of sorts, bringing students together from all over the world. Sign up to our Discord chat to share work, get feedback and more! In this article, we’ve put together a list of some of the architecture accounts we know and love. Of course, there’s many more, so if you want to stay in the know, then follow us on Instagram to be regularly updated or even featured.

@bartlettkiosk

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If you’re not already following the bajillion Bartlett unit accounts out there, give this account a go. Bartlett Kiosk brings together all kinds of students works whether it’s drawings, models or installations. Run by a MArch Unit 13 student, it’s an authentic representation of works created by real students that are most often tagged. If you like a person’s work and they have a public architecture account, feel free to follow them or even give them a message if you have questions. Two of our favourites are @atelier_lai and @arinjoy.sen

@chrisprecht

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Chris Precht of Studio Precht is an Instagram savvy, brilliant architect whose creations can make your mouth drop. We don’t need to say much about this individual, his works speaks in volumes! Have a look below.

@thearchitecturestudentblog

We love The Architecture Student Blog (big fan) and they love to feature student work. If you want to be in the chance to get featured use their hashtag. Their account provides not only inspiration, but they have also recently come up with helpful tutorials for architecture students.

@rethinkingthefuture

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Re-Thinking the Future is a mind-blowing and informative account. Their style of posts is admirable, fast and efficient. If you need quick tips or motivational quotes to boost your day, this is the account.

@first_archi_job

Sarah Lebner, author of ‘101 Things I Didn’t Learn in Architecture School’ has been a breath of fresh air on Instagram. Her ‘Sketch Saturdays’ and ‘Follow Fridays’ are fun, unique and informative. She keeps things real about architecture.

Those were our 5 favourite architecture Instagram accounts. Which accounts would you recommend us to follow? When following accounts, think about the quality of the posts and how it might help you. It’s fine to follow Starchitects but we find it extremely useful following niche-related pages that are so easily accessible. Next time you’re on Instagram you can say it’s for work instead of endlessly scrolling! Also, a top tip is to save the ones you absolutely love, want to come back to or recreate somehow. If you have any such images, feel free to send them to us on Instagram and we can reach out to the person creating it or show you a tutorial on it ourselves.

If you’ve been thinking about creating an architecture account for yourself, go for it! Better to start now than later, and who knows, one day you might even be featured somewhere! There are many benefits to starting an architecture account apart from being open for employers to see. Some students often get featured in architecture magazines or can be inspired to enter competitions via their work. Instagram is a visual-based app and we have the upper hand with our eye-catching work and images. Whether your forte is photography or illustrations, any kind of work that goes up on Instagram gets seen by someone, somewhere.

If you haven’t read our other articles head over to our Blog page and make sure you check out our amazing Guest Articles while you’re there. We are very happy to support the accounts above, after all, we believe that expanding the architecture community is the way to go forward. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram.

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Why It’s Okay to Not Spend All Your Time in the Studio

There are plenty of stereotypes about the life of an architect or the hours we spend working away in the studio. But there is no real rule that all work should take place in the studio for hours on end or overnight. The purpose of the studio is to have an allocated place to work, whether that’s at a computer or simply spread out on a large desk for drawing or working on models. As an architecture student, undoubtedly you will find your comfort zone and stick to it through the course of your studies. Working in the studio makes printing more accessible, let’s you bounce ideas off of peers and can be a nice change in atmosphere.

But sometimes it’s okay not to be spending all your time in the studio. For some people, it can be counterproductive to work in the midst of others where short breaks can become hour long sessions doing no work. The temptation to end up watching a movie or go outside for a walk is fine within limits but can be distracting and unproductive. Introverts especially might not want to be completing their work around their peers where they feel they could be judged. In a time like this, where most people are working from home, we can often miss being in a studio surrounded by equipment and other resources.

Apart from working on your project there are other activities and responsibilities you may have. If it’s exercising for an hour, a part time job or even site research, there is no real need for limiting yourself to the confinements of a desk in the studio space. For students not living on campus, it can be even more challenging when thinking about the journey home and sometimes you might not be able to work in university for long hours. We want you to read the next sentence out loud.

It’s completely okay not to be making the studio my second home.

This idea can also be supported by the environment of your studio. A state-of-the-art building might have temperature issues or during deadlines there may not even be enough spaces to work. In these cases, you might want to be in the studio, but you just don’t have the means. We would suggest getting there early if you’re really desparate – not staying overnight just because you want a space to work on deadline day. You might feel like if you’re not in the studio, you’re not getting as much work done as the people who are however this is a toxic misconception that needs to be forgotten about.

On the other hand, the atmosphere in your halls or house-share might not be great either, in which case you will tend to work out of the studio but don’t let it take over your whole life. You need to move around and do other things apart from work. Re-evaluate whether it is even necessary to be in the studio. If whatever you’re doing is going to take half an hour, but you’d travel 1 hour in total to and back, you’re wasting your time. Think about the spaces in university you can use such as the workshop or the photography suite and plan your time around this so at least you can kill two birds with one stone.

While we mentioned the amount of work actually taking place and the surroundings, another thought should be given to alternatives other than your small room. For essay writing, take full use of the library and actually look around for books that you could even reference for your design project. The library can be a wonderful space to get your work done. If you prefer a quieter space or group study, the library accommodates for that. Whilst writing essays, small groups are often encouraged so that you can bounce ideas off one another. Smaller tasks such as photo editing or annotation can be done in your spare time in the kitchen whilst making food or in a quiet café just to change up the surroundings once in a while.

Think about maximising your time and still prioritising them. If you have laundry that you want to keep an eye on, take your sketchbook with you and draw out some ideas. Better than sitting there on your phone scrolling for the next 45 mins. There really isn’t any compulsion for students to spend most of their time at university bound to the studio space. But make sure you take advantage of the space too and really evaluate where you work best. Bear in mind, we’re talking about free time other than your studio days and any lectures you might have. On studio days, we definitely suggest sticking around. The way you can go about this best is to try and see your tutors first thing in the morning. Their brains are fresh and ready to provide ideas and you don’t have to wait around for others to finish. Then, take your feedback and notes and start preparing for your next tasks. For advice on what to do after a tutorial, check out our article here.

Obviously, now that you’re at home you won’t really have access to the studio and everything has moved online. Have a read of our article on ‘How to make the most out of Zoom’ if you’re not very tech-savvy. Now, you might be given certain ‘studio’ time where lectures and tutorials take place and who knows whether this will also be the case come September. You will most likely need to find a balance between sitting at the computer for hours on end and doing other things too.

Try and aim to do one of the smaller tasks you have been assigned and might seem difficult but doable. Complete it, and after lunch, ask your tutors if they can spare five minutes to look over it. This shows them you have an enthusiastic attitude but also puts you in a great momentum. The added boost can actually make you more focused and wanting to complete the rest of the tasks ASAP. We usually take the time to plan out the rest of the week up until the next tutorial so that you’re doing the work that has been given to you plus more. If you have multiple projects, this may be hard, but once you plan out your time carefully, it can be easily manageable.

Similarly, on the days you have an early morning lecture, stick around in the studio or get your printing done. The best days to print is when you know there is no one around. We’ll be covering this topic soon so keep an eye out. If you have an odd afternoon lecture that might be during lunch, get to university early, do some work in the studio, have an early lunch and attend your lecture. Productive day? Check.

Don’t be scared of the studio either. Most first years might get intimidated by the space or the people but it’s not scary at all. In fact, you’re encouraged to ask for help from other students in other years (just try not to when deadlines are near). If your unit has been allocated a space, you might find your friends there too and most of the time it can work in your favour. All we’re saying is, try and change it up and see what suits you best. Don’t think you have to be there because you’re an architecture student, no one is looking to check on you.

Hope that helped some of you guys or even potential architecture students who might be worried about the workload. As long as you plan your time well, are passionate about the subject and can give your best, there’s nothing that can stop you. This doesn’t need to rely on the environment you’re in whether it’s the studio, home office or your bedroom.

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The Process Behind a Successful Architecture Portfolio

Types of Portfolios

Depending on the year you are studying in, you will see different kinds of portfolios and you may not be able to judge for yourself which are successful, and which aren’t. We don’t want to focus on a specific style or type of portfolio, the possibilities are dependent on your project and the amount of work you put in.

In this article, we want to guide you on some of the necessary things you need in your portfolio as well as the extra details that can make it stand out to the examiners. By putting in a bit of extra effort, you can take your portfolio to a much higher level. First, we would suggest for you to look at as many portfolios and projects as possible. This might be in your own university or in other ones which you can usually find online through specific unit websites or at the end of year exhibitions. Ask the other students around university or even someone in your year who’s work you admire or seems to be popular with the tutors.

When you think about it, regardless of which year you’re in, putting a portfolio takes up the entire year and most students will work on it till the last second. We definitely don’t advise doing this, it not only puts pressure on you as a person but can give you a lot of stress that you could avoid by doing work in advance. If you’re in first year, you might not know where to start – this is why we’ve put together this article. But whatever the case, if you want to improve your portfolio then keep reading.

We’re going to divide this into two parts: the layout and presentation of your portfolio and the actual work you’ll be putting into your portfolio. We’ve covered some of the design part in our article ‘How to Maintain a Theme in Your Portfolio’ and we’ll be referring to it often, so if you haven’t read it yet, definitely give it a read.

What to Include in Your Portfolio

There are no real guidelines or a handbook on what you exactly need in your portfolio. This is because every university is different, the way they handle things or teach or examine your work. The following ‘pages’ or work to include are just a general idea. If, for example, you’re designing a pottery factory or workshop, you might want to experiment with various shapes in the form of physical models. This can go as in-depth as you want and is a great way to show your tutors and examiners that you’ve really thought about the materials in your project. This whole idea would require a few pages to explain what you’re going to do, images of the models you make etc.

Some units may also have smaller projects they do before the main design project. This is usually to give you an anchor point to get you inspired for your project. It has to link to the design project in some way and may even be a section of your portfolio at the beginning. Make sure that if you do have a project at the beginning that is supposed to link to your design, by the end of the project there should be a clear path of how you got there from the start. There may also be a section at the end for the final part of the design which includes plans, sections, model photographs and final perspective images or illustrations. This could be submitted separately if the university requires in which case you might want to change the size of the pages, orientation or paper quality to make it stand out as it’s the final design.

Having sections in your portfolio isn’t necessary but can break down your project into groups of work that each have some kind of purpose. For example a generic order would consist of a site study, then development, then any technical focuses followed by design experiments and finally a series of images to complete the project. This is a natural order that is simply organised well so that the examiner understands the entire process. Having 30+ pages means there is a lot to look at and remember about the project within just a couple of minutes. But if you have sections, it makes it easier for you, your tutors and the examiner to understand. The best bit is that once you finish with the first couple of sections, you can present these in crits to get feedback and improve it until it doesn’t need to be improved anymore. By the end of the year, you won’t have to work on your entire portfolio, just the areas you’re currently working on.

Let’s get down to the basics:

Title Page

Contents

Abstract

Design Drivers

Mini Project (if any)

Section 1 – Brief / Site Analysis

  • Breakdown of the brief
  • Initial ideas
  • Site map 1:1000
  • Site map and route 1:500
  • Interesting areas within the site, analysing a site (can take the form of a map, collage, photographs or illustrations)
  • Site study (3D modelled, fragment, image)
  • Sun path diagram
  • Opportunities and constraints

Section 2 – Design Development

  • Initial sketches / ideas
  • Research (desktop research; articles, interviews etc. or physical research)
  • Design drivers
  • Massing studies / massing diagram (tutorial coming soon)
  • Breakdown of the building function via sketches, initial models, 3D models
  • Case studies
  • Initial plan / section

Section 3 – Initial Iteration

  • Site map with building overlay 1:200
  • Building development (depends on what you’re looking at in your project. Could be to do with the layout of the building, materials, structure, technical aspects etc)
  • Models + photographs
  • Plans and sections (these are your first iteration, so it doesn’t need to be perfect, but some annotation or sketches might help the examiner understand what you need to work on)
  • 3D model renders / physical model prototypes

Section 4 – (Optional – if you have more development to do / another iteration of drawings that are important to include. Essentially the same as section 3)

Section 5 – Resolution

  • Building Summary
  • Site plan 1:500
  • Plans (well annotated, proper line weights)
  • OPTIONAL – perspective plans, sections or axonometric views
  • Sectional drawings (showing where the section has been taken from)
  • Elevations (North, east, south, west)
  • Collages
  • Renders (if any)
  • Illustrations / perspective images (if any)
  • Hand-drawings (if any)

As we said, some of the things listed might not apply to your project depending on what kind of building you’re designing or the sort of style your prefer. There is also scope to add much more and work on certain parts in much more detail if it applies  to your project. For example, if you’re looking into a public building that is catered towards a certain community, you might want to do more research in that area or interview people. If your building revolves around a trade or craft that you don’t know about, you can explore this as models or further research.

You will also need to remember to cut down as you go. Yes, your portfolio pages need space and clarity and you really shouldn’t bombard the pages with too much text or images but at the same time, having an entire page for each of the 10 sketches you have drawn might be too much. Remember, the examiner will spend less than a few seconds on each page and will eventually focus more on the last section. If your tutors can help you to go through portfolios (extremely helpful before and after a portfolio review or crit) and go through each page, add on sticky notes or remove pages entirely so that you’re constantly editing and improving the flow of work. You can absolutely do this yourself but just make sure you’re not printing the ‘final’ version each time until you’re absolutely sure that a page is fully complete, fits well and is understood better with the pages before and after it.

Portfolio Design

We’ve covered a bit of portfolio design and the importance of having a theme or structure in your portfolio in the article ‘How to Maintain a Theme in Your Portfolio’ which I’m sure you’ve read by now. The things we covered there included a colour scheme, setting out your pages in advance and planning your pages. We’ve already given you the basic structure, so at the start of your project all you have to do is set up your portfolio on Adobe InDesign.

Usually, at the beginning of the year it takes a couple of weeks before you actually get the brief for your project or even speak to your tutors. Add in the generic introductory lectures and ‘site walks’ and you’ve pretty much wasted 3 weeks. After my first year, I realised we need to get ahead of the game. Students were often surprised to hear how my portfolio was done a couple of days before the deadline, giving me time to finalise the last few images or make sure everything works in a cohesive manner.

Setting aside an hour a day during that weird start of the year period could help you plan out your portfolio. Think about it aesthetically or practically. If you want inspiration on different layouts or themes, you can have a look at our Pinterest board. If you’re thinking budget wise, maybe moving from an A1 portfolio to an A2 portfolio seems like a wiser and lighter option. Make all these decisions now instead of getting frazzled later on when the work really begins.

If you’ve been given the brief ahead of time, definitely research the hell out of it. Make a mood board, sketches, a Pinterest board and brainstorm the different routes you could take with the brief. Look at past projects or some of the reading material you might have been recommended. Ask students in other units to see what their brief is like – anything can create a boost of inspiration as long as you’re not waiting for your tutors to tell you what to do next. Take control and stay ahead as much as possible.

Portfolio Organisation Methods

We don’t have to tell you repeatedly. Organisation is KEY. Organising your portfolio can get a bit hectic once there are other projects or essays or crits to prepare for. We would suggest keeping an online version and obviously a physical copy. For the pages you’re currently working on, it could be a good idea to print them out unfinished at a smaller scale like A3. Then, whenever you have a tutorial or crit, you can hand your tutors the page and explain what you’re doing and why. This is way better than showing them something on a computer screen because they can physically write or draw on it and give you advice that helps.

Similarly, if you’re completing your portfolio by hand, you’ll realise just how much time it’s taking up. If you’re thinking about saving money for title pages or pages with just images on them, that’s reasonable. Whenever you finish a page though, scan it in and add it to your InDesign file so you can re-order if needed or edit and actually be able to see the pages without having to take out your huge portfolio and search for the page.

Lastly, every couple of months, or even every month, sit down and go through your portfolio and see if anything can be improved. We get too stuck in the work we are presently doing that we might forget about the work we’ve already done. The entire project needs to make sense and be successful. Look for any ideas that didn’t work out and go back and edit this or comment on it at a later stage. I like to plan the pages I’ll be putting up for my crits the night before by drawing them out in my sketchbook. It saves some time because you can have a think and re-order on your sketchbook, then actually go and pick out those pages and keep them ready for the next day. Your portfolio order won’t be messed up either because you have a digital copy that reflects the physical one.

Knowing Your Portfolio

Lastly, we want to emphasise on the importance of actually knowing your portfolio, it’s something to take pride in but it also needs to be memorable in some way. At the end of the day, you know your project best, and by the time the year is over you’d have presented or explained your ideas so many times that it’s stuck in your head – which is a great thing! Write an awesome summary that is short yet descriptive and intrigues the other person to know more about it.

The decisions you made regarding the look or contents are definitely your own, but a bit of guidance never hurts and could actually lead you to better results. Studying architecture is all about getting better as you progress till you’re happy with your work and designs. If you want to see more tutorials catered towards specific portfolio pages, leave your suggestions below in the comments. Have a look at our other related topics as well. Good luck!

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How to Prepare for Architectural Technology Modules

When explaining architecture to a person who knows nothing about it, usually the words ‘designing’ ‘buildings’ or ‘drawings’ come about. But not many people talk about the technological aspects of the course. This may be because if you don’t already have experience working with real projects in a firm, your main focus is on hypothetical projects that don’t need a technology viewpoint.

But to prepare architecture students for the real world, it’s important to touch on architectural technology including basic construction ideas and the knowledge of how exactly a building is made and then in turn, how that combines with the design.

This article is aimed at the undergraduate students, especially second and third years who may have no idea how to prepare for the technology modules. Usually, this comes in the second term while you’re in between design work and maybe finished with dissertation so it’s really important to be able to multi-task as best as possible.

What is the technology module / dissertation / submission?

The actual technology ‘module’ or dissertation in some universities can vary because each place will have their own education method and requirements so unfortunately, without looking directly at the brief, we can’t give guidance on each and every aspect. The deadlines, type of submission and other requirements completely depend on the university and can be better that way if you have a lot of guidance. Here, we’re going to be speaking from personal experience, so if something isn’t the same for you, just ignore it.

Now you might be thinking, I already have so many different projects and deadlines and now technology has been added to that. We’ve already explained the purpose of the submission, but the overall idea is to enhance your design project. This adds a level of detail and actually shows the examiner how the project moves from being hypothetical to reasonably realistic. By doing research about various things like case studies, detail drawings and other tests or experiments, you’re learning key skills.

From experience, the technology module or dissertation is a booklet of information that includes the project and its context as well as some tests, case studies and development of the project’s technological focus. It also includes drawings such as plans, sections and detailed construction drawings on a large scale. Check out this example on Issuu.

What are the aims and objectives?

The purpose of a technology module is for students to understand the technical aspects involved in any kind of building project, no matter how big or small. This has to integrate with your design project but focusing more on an element rather than the entire building. Often, the aims and objectives will be provided to you in the form of a brief or marking guide so make sure you read it properly and understand what it wants you to do.

Thinking from a submission and marking perspective, the examiners are just looking for an understanding of technical elements. They basically want to see that you can create and draw out basic concepts that have derived from your project. For example, when testing out an element, you don’t have to have successful outcomes. They want you to fail and learn how you failed and then what you did to correct the situation. This shows growth in your projects.

As well as this, the examiners are looking for high quality work with innovative ideas. Of course, working on a ‘simple’ technical element is difficult enough, but if you broaden your creativity and come up with unusual ideas that may very well not work, it shows that you like to experiment and think outside of the box.

How does this help you later down the line? Architects don’t work alone on a building from start the finish. There are many other professional people involved who will need to understand your thinking and ideas through your drawings. If you ever sit down with a constructional engineer you will realise the jargon and overall concepts are much more different to architecture. You will also need to make others understand how exactly your vision comes to life. It’s all good and well designing a beautiful roof structure but if you don’t have the technology behind it sorted it, no one will have an idea on how to actually construct it.

In addition, the technology module is great for prospective employers. Whilst working in a firm, you will be tasked on various things that you didn’t necessary learn in university because you were working on hypothetical projects. This is where having a technological understanding comes in handy. Although you might not be an expert in it, you have a solid base where it makes it easier for you to learn as you go rather than learning from scratch whilst on the job.

Breakdown of content

The following ‘chapters’ may not be required or could be slightly different depending on your course and university. This example is from the 3rd year technology dissertation at the University of Greenwich.

Project Context – This is all the information you have already gathered so far for your project. You have to basically think about how you would introduce the project to someone who may have not looked at your design work. This includes analysis of the site, the brief, your key drivers for the project and even where it is located. It’s basically background information.

RMS – This is a research methods statement. This is where you explain your technology focus, again with the context of the design project. The RMS is also a standalone document that gives an outline of the technology submission.

Dissertation – The dissertation is the main element of the submission. It has two parts, first the aims and technical questions that need to be answered, the case studies and the actual investigations carried out with experiments. The second part is the drawings. This includes plans, sections and detail drawings as well as a 3D view if needed.

Audit – this part explains the real-world technicalities of the project. For example, the costs, materials, building regulations and health and safety. Luckily, it doesn’t need actual figures but simply an understanding of the way it works.

Our top tips

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Here at :scale we heavily emphasise on organisation. It is a lifesaver! Similarly, for the technology submission, the best thing you can do is organise yourself. Set out a couple of hours once you have the brief, to brainstorm on your project and make a template of the pages you need. We would recommend you buy a small notebook where you can keep your ideas. It will also come in handy during tutorials with your tutors regarding tech.

If your brief doesn’t already include a breakdown of the pages you need, either make one yourself or look at past projects to get a better idea of the structure. We’ve already touched on this above. Then, create a file in Adobe InDesign and set up a front cover (not the final thing), the pages, headings and subheadings and other details you know you need to include. This way you’re not creating pages one by one and slowly adding it to a folder, you can instantly lay out a page in your file and keep it all in one place, ready to go. If you have ideas for the presentation or colour scheme it makes your life much easier. Personally, we would say keep it simple but do something fun with it that doesn’t go over the top. If you need ideas, have a look on our Pinterest board ‘Layouts’.

A small but crucial part of the technology is to come up with a technical focus. This might be something new you’ve thought of or something you want to build on. Let’s use ‘natural ventilation techniques’ as an example. If you wanted to make your building more sustainable, for whichever reasons, you need to come up with ways in which you can introduce natural ventilation. An example of this can be a wind catcher or wind tunnel. Using this as one of your technical experiments, you need to think about the kinds of tests you can do to ensure you have the best model.

  1. Placement of the wind tunnel – here you can experiment where it will be placed, depending on the orientation of the building, you can do wind experiments on site, 3D model a wind tunnel and use software to understand where it will catch the most wind.
  2. Design – think about the best kind of design of a wind tunnel. Look at existing ones, the materials, the size, all kinds of factors.
  3. Efficiency – obviously, you can’t test this on site, but you could simulate conditions via a 3D software or a scaled physical model.

Essentially, the more factors you have to test, the better. But you need to make sure it makes sense with the rest of your project. Why are you testing this? Why is it important for the project as a whole? The best part is, even if some tests don’t work it, you can and should include it so that the examiners can see you tried various routes and then finally settled on the best outcome possible. This bit is probably the part where most students get stuck, they don’t know what exactly they need to ‘test’ but once you’ve got some ideas, it becomes very easy to keep going.

By planning ahead of time, you’re leaving yourself more time to work on the real stuff. You don’t want to be rushing at the end working on the layout of the dissertation even though it is an important part. Planning ahead also means thinking about printing services. For some technology dissertations, drawings are also required but these have to be to scale and therefore need to be on sheets of A3, A2 or even A1 and have to be folded and stuck in. Make sure you leave space for this and plan and scale your drawings well.

It’s also a good idea to have two copies of your dissertation, one for the submission and one for yourself or as part of your portfolio. Make sure you decide on how you will print your document and understand roughly how many days it will take. Then, count back from the day before your deadline and set it as your own deadline to finish everything. You want to leave a day or two for adding in the drawings and checking everything is good. If you can, try leave a backup option in case nothing works out. This could be a simple printed out booklet you make yourself.

Use your 3D models to your advantage. You don’t need an exquisite physical or digital model for this. Smaller, prototype models or experiment models are great. A good tip would be to duplicate your current digital model, extract out the area of focus, whether it’s a sliver of your building or a corner and use that file for the base of your technology drawings. Remember, you don’t need fancy renders or illustrations, a simple line drawing in orthogonal view is great. If possible, try and model the building with actual layers of the walls, the structure etc. so that when you draw a section out, it’s already there. Some programs like Revit or Vectorworks make it easy for you to do this.

Don’t forget

This was our breakdown on architectural technology, what it is, what you need and our top tips for getting through this module. If you want to see more useful and helpful articles or even our tutorials, make sure to check them out below or by going on to our Blog page.

Find our Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook at the top of the page!

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Q&A with a Landscape Architecture Student

Today we sit down with a 2nd year Landscape Architecture student, Mohammed Salmaan who is studying at The University of Greenwich. For those who might not have an idea about this interesting course and might want to learn more, then keep reading below.

1. How is Landscape Architecture different than Architecture? (in your opinion)

I get this question asked to me almost everyday by my mates in architecture and even by members of my own family. The simplest way I can explain the difference is by saying that architecture is the design of buildings and landscape architecture is the design of everything around those buildings. This includes the planting, water features, paving lighting , etc. I always like to think that architecture and landscape architecture work together. Architects design buildings and structures while landscape architects design the setting of these structures. In my opinion, landscape architects help enhance the beauty of buildings designed by architects.

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Garden of Giants by Mutabilis Landscape Architecture

2. What would you say you enjoy the most about studying Landscape Architecture?

I love expressing myself through the landscapes I designed. When you’re a student, you don’t have any restrictions from clients or funding. You get a brief and a site and you are allowed to design in anyway you like. I really enjoy sitting with a role of tracing paper on top of a map of the site and sketching, shading, colouring and creating this beautiful artwork. When you graduate and start to work in a firm you don’t always have the time and freedom to design as you please.

3. Did you always know you wanted to study this course?

No, not really. I’ve always had an interest in design and horticulture. But I never thought that I should choose a career which involves design and horticulture. I wanted to do something conventional like dentistry or optometry. To make up my mind I took a year off and I did a Level 3 course in horticulture at Capel Manor College in Enfield. I thought that I would study this course for a year and then apply for optometry. But after a year of being involved with nature and design, I knew I had to study something that I enjoyed and loved and also a course which is growing in popularity. That’s why I chose landscape architecture.

4. Which university do you attend and what do you think about the facilities, course structure and workload?

I attend the University of Greenwich. In my opinion my experience at the university so far has been very positive. The architecture and landscape architecture facilities are great, the staff are very helpful and always more than willing to help. The university has good studio space, enough computers, keep up to date with all the software used by architects and landscape architects and have a well equipped workshop.

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Stockwell Street – University of Greenwich

Personally, I have been satisfied with the course structure and the workload. The workload is a lot but it’s not overbearing. The structure of the course includes two studio days and one lecture day. I’m really happy with that as I enjoy studio days but struggle to stay awake on lecture days.

5. Would you recommend Landscape to those who are unsure about Architecture and may want to take a different route. If yes, why?

Yes, I definitely would. Landscape architecture is a profession which is really growing in demand all over the world. I believe that landscape architects will play a huge part in designing cities in the future. In a world which is trying to combat climate change and its effects, landscape architects can help by designing green spaces in cities or by working alongside architects to design modern sustainable and green buildings.

In my opinion, the best example that I can give off a project which a landscape architect has designed is Gardens By The Bay in Singapore which was designed by the Landscape Architect Andrew Grant. Designing spaces where nature can thrive in an urban city will be a huge part of landscape architects jobs in the future. I would definitely recommend landscape as a profession.

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Gardens by the Bay – Andrew Grant

6. What kinds of job routes can Landscape lead to?

Landscape Architecture is a wonderful profession in its self. However, there are other job routes that landscape can lead to such as urban design, horticulture and garden design. After I graduate, I intend to master in Urban Design.

7. How much time would you say you spend in the studio / working on your project in one week?

I spend between 20-25 hrs in a week working on my project. This involves making models, drawing plans and sections and laying out my portfolio. I get busier when I have my mid or end of term ‘crits’ or reviews. During this time, I sometimes pull all nighters at university.

8. What project / year in university did you enjoy the most?

I am currently towards the end of my second year. Between the two years, I would definitely say my second year has been the most enjoyable. I’ve developed more thorough proposals, learnt new techniques and made more detailed designs. I am definitely looking forward to and very optimistic about my third year.

9. And finally, do you have a comment on stereotypes for landscape architects or architects in general?

Well, I’ve found that when people often ask me what I’m studying and they hear the word ‘landscape’ they just dismiss the profession by saying that I’m just a gardener. Of course there is nothing wrong with being a gardener but landscape architecture is much more than that. Ive found that explaining what a landscape architect is, and how important landscape architects are to society, and also by mentioning famous landmarks designed by landscape architects such as Central Park and my personal favourite, Gardens By The Bay, helps combat the stereotype that landscape architects are just gardeners.

A big thank you to Salmaan for answering our questions. We hope you have some kind of insight into the work of landscape architects. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. Also, go check out Salmaan’s profile on our website!

tedtalks

Best TED Talks for Architecture Students

If you haven’t heard of a TED talk yet, what are you doing? A TED talk is basically a seminar or video created from a presentation at one of the worldwide TED events. They take place in universities, technology companies or can be part of a bigger conference.

TED talks are known for their brief yet detailed explanation on a certain topic which may or may not be related to current affairs. For architecture specifically, the sub-categories range from sustainable architecture to looking at historic architecture. The speakers themselves can be experts in that industry or in our case, well-known architects. Usually these talks are very motivational and insightful. The mix of evidence-based information and engaging speakers curates a series of videos that are relevent to a broad audience.

Why should you be interested in a TED talk though? As a student, especially an architecture student, it’s always good to be in the know about the latest technologies or concepts in architecture. Yes you can do this via books and architecture magazines which keep you updated, but these TED talks go in to a large amount of detail on various topics that may inspire you.

We are in an environment where videos online are probably more accessible and convenient to us than library books. It’s also great as background content whilst completing design work. TED talks are usually relatively short so there’s no compulsion to sit there for hours on end.

In this article, we’ve picked the latest TED talks we found interesting. There are actually over 100 TED talks for architecture alone so there is a wide range you can search through. You might find some talks becoming a little less relevant the older they are since architectural technology like 3D printing has come so far. We also try and make sure we let you know if a new one is up via our Instagram so be sure to stay updated there.

Ma Yansong – Urban architecture inspired by mountains, clouds and volcanoes

If you know MAD architects, then you know Ma Yansong. This TED talk gives a glimpse into nature-inspired architecture that is prevalent in his own work. This is great for students because it not only gives you inspiration but it provides an insight into Yansong’s thought process.

Rahul Mehrotra – The architectural wonder of impermanent cities

In this TED talk, Rahul Mehrotra talks about the Kumbh Mela that takes place in India. The temporary structures built for this massive event make up a megacity ‘that sits on the ground very lightly’. He questions whether we are actually employing permenant solutions for temporary problems. Overall, it is an interesting topic if you don’t already know anything about it.

Bjarke Ingels – Floating cities, the LEGO House and other architectural forms of the future

Bjarke Ingels is a regular on TED talks. This one in particular is all about future cities and for the inner child in all us architects, LEGO. He talks about a few projects his firm is working on or have worked on and how a floating city is actually possible. These kinds of ideas can open up your mind as an architecture student.

Majd Mashharawi – How I’m making bricks out of ashes and rubble in Gaza

A true and inspiring story, Majd Mashharawi an entrepreneur and engineer, created bricks made from destroyed building components and rubble. The interesting thing about this talk is that she explains the repetitive process she had to go through in order to finally come up with the building block she has today. This is great for students who are interested in architectural technology and how you need to have several iterations before landing on the perfect solution.

Renzo Piano – The genius behind some of the world’s most famous buildings

Renzo Piano is well-known all over the world. This TED talk briefly goes over some of his major projects from his own perspective. If you didn’t know anything about Piano and his work, this is the perfect video to get started with.

To find more architecture TED talks, you can head over to their website below. You don’t even need to watch the specific architecture ones, there are plenty of categories and motivational videos that can be useful for anyone.

Ted Talks About Architecture

If you’re looking for more informative content that is catered towards students like yourself, make sure to check out our other articles here at :scale. Leave a comment below telling us which TED talk is your favourite and whether you learnt anything new.

staying motivated

Foolproof Tips to Staying Motivated

Staying motivated can be difficult for anyone, whether its designers, artists or architects. Instead of giving up half-way, we suggest some tips and methods on staying motivated to make sure your work is always great. The journey to becoming an architect is long and difficult, and often while you are at university, you will have moments where you question your life decisions as a whole. This can throw you off slightly, but if you keep your cool and do what is neccessary, you’ll be fine.

Imagine this scenario: mid-way through the year, while you’re balancing 2 or 3 projects, keeping up with criticism and feedback you are also trying to design a space you think is great. But it’s just not working. You feel like you’re running behind and maybe it’s best to give up. You’re not able to manage your time, or keep up with your social life. Motivation seems like an impossible theory. Plus, the ‘motivational quotes’ board on Pinterest isn’t really doing it for you.

This kind of ‘scenario’ is exactly what happens at this point in the year. You may be lucky enough to have submitted some projects already but its drained your energy and motivation by this point. We’ve all felt that way somewhere along the line and it may not be the last time, but we are here to help you find ways to keep motivated and make the most of your time at university.

We also have a vast community on Instagram, so go follow us there and join in! We provide daily tips, features and general advice.

Our first tip:

Walk Away

Step back from your work, breathe, and go outside. Do something that is not architecture related and makes you happy. The best thing you need sometimes is to take a step back and take a break. This helps you take a look at the bigger picture and it doesn’t neccessarily need to be for designing spaces, it can also be for essays or model making.

If this means leaving the building to go get a coffee, do it. Take your tired friends with you too. Often, we regret afterwards some of the choices we made, or the time we wasted when it could have been put to good use. Trying to utilise every second might just push you in the opposite direction and as a result, you won’t have good quality work, if any. Sitting at the desk for hours on end and not getting anything done is pointless. So go take a break, watch a YouTube video or call a friend.

Then, ease back into your work. You might be thinking that this is a waste of time, but you will be wasting a lot more time stressing out and feeling sorry for yourself. Taking out those few minutes to look over your work will help you gauge the situation better.

You can even consider taking a break for a day or two. At this point the deadline is most likely not important enough to lose your sanity over. Reviews and crits can also make us feel this way and the only way to overcome this is to let your thoughts go astray. If you have multiple projects going on at one time, mentally switch one off (reasonably, not until the day before the deadline) and don’t think about it for a few days. This way, you open yourself up to dedicating more time to a project you’re stuck on and when you go back to the other one, you’ll have a set of fresh eyes.

We know to some architecture students it may sound stupid and impossible because we have the notion in our heads that we need to be pulling all-nighters and drinking inexplicable amounts of coffee till we drain ourselves. But this doesn’t have to be the case. As long as you have that tiny bit of motivation, whether it’s to finish that last section, to submit your work by a deadline or even to finish your degree as a whole, you’ll make sure you try your best to get it done.

Trust Your Instincts

Believe it or not but when your deadline approaches, your natural instincts will kick in. You won’t even have the free mindset to think about anything but the work you are doing at that moment in time. You will look back at that period and think “How did I even do that?”. Architecture is a unique and tiring degree, but only designers like ourselves really appreciate the hard work and creativity. Being able to get inspired often comes naturally to us, but there are most definitely times where it’s not the case.

Often times you will find that you make a list of goals to accomplish, with a set timetable but by the end of the day you find that you have only completed 2 out of 5 tasks. And then you either panic or feel down and useless. Sound familiar? Well stop.

It’s a lot easier to control these thoughts once you are conscious of them. It is really important that you start with realistic tasks so you don’t end up in that situation in the first place but if you do end up there. Do not give up. Take a look at what you need to get done, re-prioritise (if you need to), and think about how long each task can possibly take and make a new list. Set up your work before you go to bed so that when you’re up you are all ready to go.

Of course, this depends on how you work, which we’ll be discussing shortly. But something you need to ask yourself is why you’re in this position. Why are you doing the degree you’re doing. Because if there isn’t any passion behind it, it might not make sense. Our recent guest author Dimitra suggested that you should find out what you’re really passionate about. We all prefer doing the tasks that we enjoy first, so if you’re having a tough time, start with those but don’t forget about the ones you don’t like doing.

Check out Dimitra’s article HERE.

Trust your instincts telling you that it’s not worth prioritsing smaller tasks that the examiner won’t even be marking you on. Writing lists is key, even if you don’t end up finishing them, it gives a structure to every task you do and you get an idea of how far along you are in a project.

Create Your Ideal Workspace

The studio environment is something you’ll read a lot about but it’s not for everyone and you will notice that certain students only come in for tutorials. That’s not to say they are bad students, they just don’t feel comfortable there and that’s fine. Try changing your space up and see if it helps you become more motivated.

On the other hand, there are some students who treat the studios as their second home. Literally. And like we say, everyone is different. But it is important determine your workspace including the people around you. Get rid of anything that distracts you and bring in whatever helps you focus. If there are other students chatting away, you might be tempted to join in or you might be annoyed by the noise. In any case, the environment might not work for you.

Why is this effective? Because you need a set space to work in where you can focus on the tasks in front of you without wasting time. It makes the whole process much more easier and efficient. For some people, a change of workspace can also help, especially if you’re low on motivation.

For example, the team at :scale prefer to work outside of the studio but each in different ways. Raeesah can’t focus in silence and notices that she works effectively watching dark documentaries. Sana focuses alone and runs through movies she has already seen. But as the deadline draws close and Sana is ‘in the zone’ she switches to silence; whereas Raeesah switches to political podcasts.

Essentially you need to figure out what are distractions and what are some of the things that support you. If you like snacking, keep some easy to eat food near you so you’re not constantly going and getting food from the kitchen. Your workspace doesn’t just mean the environement around you, it can also refer to the apps and tabs open on your phone or computer. It might be a good idea to mute notifications and keep your phone away from you.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

This can be very, very difficult. You’re in an environment where you pretty much know what everyone else around you is doing and how their projects are going. But it is so important that you do not give in to comparing yourself or trying to get your work to the same place. It’s fine to give yourself some inspiration licence.

Everyone has a different style and opinion and no one is the same. If you see work that you like, it does not mean your work is bad. Don’t immediately devalue your work. Instead, take a look at different styles of work and think of it as an observation. Observe and learn to apply what you like and start tweaking it and see if it fits your style. The best way to make progress is to learn to adapt and observe without making comparisons.

Plus, if you spend time over-analysing other people’s work and trying to imitate it, you might end up wasting time and as we’ve already discussed, time is key. The best thing to do might be to develop your own style based off other works or your own ideas.

Change Your Approach

If something is taking a long time to do, then, there is most likely, another way to do it or a faster way to do it. Look online and see what different methods of working there are. There is no right or wrong way, just different ways, and everyone has a different way of working. Some methods work faster for different people and that’s alright. You just need to find your method.

Implementing a timed plan or proper structure may work best for some people. You can do this easily by sitting down every morning and planning your work for the day. Make sure you include breaks and meals and be realistic about what you want to achieve. Then, you can use a timer on your phone to keep track of the time for every hour lets say. After the time is over, you can evaluate whether you need to carry on or prioritise the next task. Let us know if you want to see an article on time management in the comments below.

Changing your style of work is also something that can help motivate you. Often, doing a task can be long and tedious so changing it up can be exciting and you learn something new on the way. Although, if you’re nearing a deadline, it is best to stick to what you know best, just because you don’t want things to mess up at this time. Just keep it together.

Find Your Passion

This may sound cheesy but, you need to take a step back and remember, why are you doing this? what do you like to do? You can’t do this course without having a passion for it… well you can, you just won’t enjoy it. Look back through your old work, listen to music you like and just think back to what brought you here and why you are doing this. Architecture students are known to be enthusiastic about their subject, not just for the grades.

We find scrolling through Pinterest or watching a video about a different style of architecture can be useful but for creators like us, the smallest things can imply us. Use your surroundings, the time you take out on a break or even by taking a quick nap!

However, during the course of the year it is easy to go crazy and at some point you’ll notice everyone is so hell bent on grades and praise, that they often lose themselves on the way. You change your style, to meet the ‘requirements’ or maybe someone makes a comment that makes you re-evaluate, or even your tutors might say something that throws you off track and eventually you find yourself with work that might be considered good, but you aren’t satisfied with it. Then, even worse, your work quality goes down and that’s the last thing you want.

So many architecture students change their style thinking that there is a ‘right’ way of working and a lot of the time it backfires because it shows in your work that you are not enjoying it. Trust in your work, obviously take crticism positively but don’t try to completely change your way of thinking, because the comments aren’t trying to suppress you, they’re to help you get better.

Overall, we hope even one of our points made an impact somehow. Changing things up or enforcing a structure isn’t difficult. By staying motivated, you’re not only increasing your creativity but also improving your work.

Have a look at our article about Ways to Gain Inspiration Online and tell us in the comments what you do to stay motivated. Remember to follow us on Instagram too! @to.scale

10ArchitectureBlogs-01

10 Awesome Architecture Blogs you Need to Follow Right Now

Architecture blogs are a great resource. Whether its to learn something new, see what’s happening in the community or just keep up with architecture news, blogs are a big deal.

It can be difficult when starting university to involve yourself in the architectural world and you may not know where to start. Books are all good and well if you know the kind of topic you want to learn about; but blogs are a great, accessible way of keeping up with the industry.

Think of architecture blogs as your industry-specific newsletter where you can learn new things or keep up with projects locally and around the globe. The ones you keep up with don’t need to have thousands of followers. Smaller blogs that have a specific niche that appeal to your work are completely fine.

Here at :scale we want our blog to be a space where the architecture student community can share their thoughts, learn something new and gain some inspiration along the way. We want to encourage our readers to experiment with their architectural style once in a while as well as interact with each other.

Some of these are pretty well-known and others aren’t. So we’ve included some blogs that might not be on the map yet.

  1. Dezeen
  2. Arch Daily
  3. The Architect’s Journal
  4. Visualizing Architecture
  5. 30X40 Design Workshop
  6. Life of an Architect
  7. Design Milk
  8. Archinect
  9. Zean Macfarlane
  10. Archi Soup

Dezeen

If you haven’t already heard of Dezeen, then you need to get on their website ASAP. Dezeen is our personal favourite. A hub of all things design and architecture, it not only gives you the latest news but also informs you of current jobs, new openings and projects.

We’d reccomend subscribing to their newsletter to get a daily dose of the most popular news happening all over the world.

Arch Daily

Arch Daily is a great resource for those looking for the latest architecture competitions. There are many other websites that focus on this area specifically, but Arch Daily usually has them all. It also features thousands of building projects and has multiple facts, images – anything you need to know about a certain project – it’s there.

The Architect’s Journal

The AJ appeals to those in the UK. Although they have a paid subscription, their other free content is wonderful. If you’re interested in Architecture awards, this is the right place. The AJ hold awards for a wide range of categories as well as student projects. They have a vast library of building projects you can look at.

Visualizing Architecture

Alex Hogrefe is the mastermind behind Visualising Architecture. The website contains a blog as well as incredible visualisation tutorials and portfolio breakdowns. He explains everything from basic Photoshop layer management to rendering and post production.

A great resource for students looking to come up with their own style of visualisations or learn new techniques.

30X40 Design Workshop

You might recognise 30X40 from the infamous, amazing YouTube videos. As well as having in-depth tutorial videos, Eric Reinholdt  also creates some great resources. You can get an insight into some of his videos through the blog or check out his portfolio. We’ve linked one of our favourite videos down below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNNAnSCrrBI&feature=emb_logo

Life of an Architect

Life of an Architect is the creation of licensed architect, Bob Borson. He has a wide range of posts that are quite relatable and useful for all kids of architects or students. He also runs a successful podcast ‘Life of an Architect’ along with Andrew Hawkins. Make sure you check out both!

Design Milk

Design Milk is a fabulous blog and magazine which has its own curated online shop. It extracts the best products for designers from around the world and keeps you updated with all sorts of news in various categories. A really interesting website to check out.

Archinect

Archinect is a gem in the architecture community. It aims to connect like-minded architects from all over the world and allows you to create you own profile for contribution and participation. Archinect has a great employment portal for those living in the US or Canada.

Zean Macfarlane

You’ve probably seen some of Zean Macfarlane’s work somwhere on the Internet. Whether it’s Instagram or Pinterest, his eye-catching illustrations inspire everyone. He also has a series of E-Books aimed at architecture students. To find out more click the link below.

100 Architecture Tips

Archi Soup

ArchiSoup are an online learning resource and platform that provides exciting new tutorials for architects and students. They have some great resources for those starting out. If you wanted to know more about certain architects, they also have a page dedicated to architect biographies containing everything you need to know.

There are obviously many more blogs out there, so be sure to let us know in the comments which blogs you think are great, or out of our top 10 list, which of these you regularly visit.

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