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.