Travelling for Study

Travel is a very important part of architectural education. Each year at Architecture School you will most likely be given the opportunity to undertake a study trip either in the UK or abroad. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to visit places with peers interested in architecture. You start to look at the built environment in a different way. During my part I I got the opportunity to visit: Paris, Amsterdam, Lincoln, Orvieto and Rome.

On these study trips we were taught how to analysis and record the city and also how to correctly undertake a site survey.

What to bring:

  • Camera
  • Camera charger
  • Sketchbook
  • Pencil wrap with an abundance of pens and pencils
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Map of the area
  • Tracing paper (to trace information over the map)
  • Travel Guide
  • List of places of interest

What should I be looking at?

  • Look up
  • Circulation
  • Pedestrian and transport routes
  • Massing
  • Boundaries
  • Forms
  • Symbolism
  • Main routes
  • Interesting details

Overall, when designing in an area it is important to look at the wider context. There is plenty to learn from in the abundance of cities around the world.

(post in progress)

30 day challenges!

It’s that time again…The start of a new year. After reading a couple of books regarding self improvement I came across the concept of 30 day challenges. In particular, I read ‘Challenge yourself I dare you: 30 day challenges’ by Stuart Ralph. (http://amzn.to/1F03sll). He looked in depth at the idea of setting yourself a goal for a shorter period of time – to ease the commitments and the potential risk of failure. I have used this concept as one of my ‘New Years Resolutions’ for 2015. This resolution will be versatile enough to dedicate as much time as I wish to it, depending on other commitments.

Another place in which this idea is discussed which you may find of use is Steve Pavlinas’ blog: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/04/30-days-to-success/. Steve describes it as ‘A powerful personal growth tool… a concept borrowed from the shareware industry, where you can download a trial version of a piece of software and try it out risk-free for 30 days before you’re required to buy the full version. It’s also a great way to develop new habits, and best of all, it’s brain-dead simple.’ Also, on his blog are plenty of suggestions to get you inspired!

Towards the end of 2014, I began brainstorming some ideas as to what 30 day challenges could benefit me and other architecture students alike. I have tried to include a range of goals that will help to develop aspects of architecture.

  • Sketch every day for a month.
  • Learn a new building material a day.
  • Write a new blog entry.
  • Take a photograph a day.
  • Do 30 minutes – 1 hour of 3D modelling.
  • Write an extract in your journal.
  • Meditate.
  • 10 minute life drawing exercise.
  • 30 artistic performances in 30 days.
  • Learn a new vocabulary word every day.
  • Write about 30 pieces of Art.
  • Go for a long walk every day.
  • Read for an hour day on a subject that interests you.
  • Write a 500 word reflection.

I hope to look at a range of challenges across: professional practice, technology, design and History topics within architecture. Pease feel free to post a comment and share your goals for the next 30 days if you decide to give 30 day challenges a try. I am hoping these will be a much more achievable way to complete the goals set for the new year.

7 Job Hunting tips I have been given…

I have again begun the difficult task of seeking new employment after recently finishing working for an architectural practice this year. I have done extensive research and attended several graduate workshops to learn about how to best market myself.
Here are a few tips I picked up:

1. Before applying to a firm, make sure you know what employers are looking for and understand how the company recruits. After this initial research you will be able to see what is expected of an applicant and take a few steps to improve your chances. (Note: There are many types of architectural practices in which firms vary eg. commercial, residential etc).

2. Unfortunately in this struggle to find a placement or graduate job it is best if you are flexible. Go where the work is! 84% of businesses in London employ graduates’ so heading for big cities can be a good choice. Although, remember property and rent can be expensive, so too can travel costs if you decide to commute.

3. Employers exceptions are high! To enhance a CV look for opportunities in: internships, work experience, volunteering and knowledge transfer partnerships. There are a few websites you could try for architectural volunteering: http://architectureforhumanity.org/

4. USPs (unique selling points) are a good way to make you stand out from others. Try to find something that is desirable to the employer that other applicants might not have thought about.
– Extra curricular activity
– Voluntary work
Scary fact: ‘Every year 300,000 students in the UK alone graduate with a degree’.

5. Use words that have been written in the advertisers ‘job description’. Some employers have been known to search for key words in a CV or cover letter to decide if they want to read it in full. This is a way to save time when reviewing hundreds of applications.

6. Customise every cover letter!!! It is extremely important you tailor each letter to the firm specifically. General letters will not be interesting enough to the employer. This does take a lot of time especially if you are applying to multiple jobs however, it will improve your chances of being recognised considerably.

7. It has been said up to ‘80% of jobs are never advertised’. Ask around as many people as possible and try to network as often as you can. This may open up new windows of opportunity to make contacts in your field. Unfortunately, quite often it is not what you know but who you know.
People you could contact:
– Friends
– Relatives
– Acquaintances
– Tutors
– Previous employers
– Voluntary workers

I hope this article will be somewhat helpful to those who are currently searching for work placements. Do not feel defeated if this process is taking a long time, it is important to remain positive and focused. To fill in the spare time see my blog post titled ‘My top 10 ways to stay involved in the profession of architecture’ published on the 9/15/2014.

I wish you all the best of luck!!

(Post in Progress)

Micro-essay writing – A personal goal.

After reading the Architects’ Journal (25-Nov-2013) writing prize entries, I have been inspired to set myself a goal of writing one micro-essay every two months. By doing this I hope to improve my writing and observational skills. I have grown to appreciate writing more through my architectural studies and enjoyed writing my dissertation.

What I hope to achieve:

– To discover a writing style that not only suits me but helps me to create engaging articles.

– Improve my critical analysis skills.

– Prepare me for future dissertations as I continue my studies.

I will follow the brief set for the AJ writing prize which is as quoted: ‘The essay can be on any topic relevant to architecture and must be no longer than 1,000 words. The subject matter may be historical or contemporary. The piece may look at an individual building or buildings, or a subject pertinent to the practice, theory or business of architecture’.

After I have finished my Eco-building course at the end of this year, I am going to use this brief to write a series of essays which I will then post on my ‘Dissertation and Essays’ page (provided I feel they are of a good quality). The subjects will vary.

My favourite architecture blogs…

I find myself travelling a lot lately and one of my favourite things do to if I don’t have my AJ handy is to read blogs on my phone or tablet.

If you have any suggestions for other interesting architecture blogs please leave them in the comment section below.

Why is it important to read and write about architecture?

One of my history teachers during a lecture once asked how many of us architecture students had a subscription to an architecture journal, the result surprised him. We all knew what was coming – a look of disapproval and a quick ‘perk up your ideas’ comment. He suggested for Christmas we asked for a subscription to one of the top architectural magazines. A few weeks later I bit the bullet and used a proportion of my slowly diminishing student loan to subscribe to the Architects Journal (AJ). I can safely say this was one of the best investments I have made. It didn’t just provide me with a weekly magazine and free online content; it provided me with a community.

There is much value in architectural writing however; it can become an almost alien practice to students and architects. Many whom have become conditioned to communicating via images, sketches, diagrams and models. Discussing architecture is crucial; everyone is a critic to architecture, it opens up communication between industry professionals and everyone else. We currently have a relatively strong publishing community which benefits the industry by circulating news, providing a forum for debate and sharing information globally. It also creates high standards and encourages innovation within firms.

Reflection in architecture is about taking the time to look. To me it is becoming an ever more important process in my learning experience. There are many ways of getting involved in reflective practises for example: Keeping a Personal development record, a project diary and writing in your spare time through a blog etc. Sharing ideas is crucial within our creative industry in order to push our profession

Overall, I have found it fascinating to read articles from critics, and this has helped me to see how these sharp eyed experts analyse and draw conclusions from our built environment. Critical reading and critical writing ultimately results in critical thinking.