bad student?

hey guys, I have a couple of worries about my architectural education and I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice.
Basically i’m not sure if i’m doing the right thing in architecture school, by this I mean the way I do the projects set.
I’m a very passionate student, and that I think (oddly enough) is my problem. Each architecture school has its own philosophy, mine seems to revolve around sustainable architecture, however, this does not appeal to me. I’m interested in other things architecturally, and so when we are assigned a project I par-take in my own architectural experiments beacuse I want to find something out, I want to see what happens by developing a certain concept I have. The problem is my designs are extremely ambitious (I like to push myself as much as possible) and we are only given 6 weeks on average to do all the work. So basically by the end of the 6 weeks I will have a design, but it does not work 100% beacuse I run out of time to make this dream idea work and secondly I do not have the adequate knowledge to make it work. When it comes to the crit my tutors commend my concept, but slaughter me saying I have not designed architecture but a sculpture, I have designed art not “architecture” as it does not work 100%. This frustrates me as I do not believe in this distinction and secondly beacuse I have put a lot of effort into something only for it to be slaughtered by the jury.
When we do a project I have my own ajendas, my own things that I want to find out, and each time I do these experiments I get closer and closer to getting the final answer. I question what my tutors tell me to do, I want to find out an answer to a question which they may not like. Overall, I feel like an outcast in my school and its getting me down, Ive seriously considered going into another design field or a design school which may embrace my visions and help me make them work.
I’m thinking of applying to the bartlett because I feel that they may embrace my ideas more than the university I curretly go to, but this may be a mistake as this may not be the case.
I like to question conventions, and thats fine by the tutors but I feel like my tutors have the impression that I am an ambitious, passionate student which produces some beautiful work, but cannot make the design work.
If anyone can give me some advice I would apprecitate it. It may also help I tell you I am about to finish my first year in architecture.

thank you.

That, I think, is part of your problem. You need to be able to consider the time you have as one variable within a project brief. So, if you only have an hour, or you have a whole year, you have to be able to deal with that and work to completion within the given time frame.

Pushing yourself is great (and necessary for a student), and of course you do not yet have adequate knowledge to do everything, but that’s also a parameter to work within. Sometimes you have to suck it up and pursue a less ambitious or interesting idea because you know you’ll be able to execute it successfully given your parameters. That, again, is something you obviously need to work on.

I don’t mean to put you down. You’re obviously very thoughtful and self-critical (a rare trait at your level, and I commend that). Good luck.

thank you very much for your reply, you have helped me a great deal.

I personally feel that while your ambitiousness is a bit of an archilles heel it is also a strength. Don’t let them stamp out that aspect of your designs (going for broke).

Most students lose that trait by the end of a course because they are just trying to get through and please the teacher. Don’t get me wrong, this is what the world is like, trying to please someone else but grades aren’t everything and originality is a big plus.

Also, you may not get a chance to try such ambitious designs in such a safe environment. If you make a mistake, you learn and get a little burned (well I know it stings but you also need to develop a tough skin if you want to survive in the opinionated design world). In the real world, the client will leave you in a hole for their lawyers to toy with.

BTW, if the projects you have require a little more time to complete, finish what you started (when you get a chance). Follow through.

When I went through my ID course I always tended to bite off more than I could chew but I knew that I couldn’t settle for less. I am finding in my professional career that it hasn’t hurt me in the slightest.

Don’t let them grind you down. Good luck.

school is what you make of it.

don’t take it too seriously.

2 weeks after graduation, you will care about all the WORLD SHATTERING over analysis you have going on right now as much as you care about all that stuff back in junior high school that were life threatening. ie. pimples.

I’d say push it as far as you can. As a student (and onl a sophmore at that) now is your time to create the most ambitious portfolio of work you can in hopes of landing a job that will also be ambitious. You have plenty of time to create one or two very producable projects to round out your portfilio.

Just my 2¢.

I think that it is important to hold onto the ability to strive beyond the known, the now, the accepted way of doing things. The only way to affect change is to challenge convention after all.

It is much harder to make an idea more conceptual, than it is to make an idea more manufacturable!

You gotta go with what you want to do. Couple of choices-

  1. Others have gone down the same ambitious path as you. Do a little research to find out how they were able accomodate this. How were they able to prioritize in order to find and work on the core concept- the thing that matters most. During grad school I chained my projects together, so I could have the time to fully develop an idea.

  2. Start looking at other schools. Nothing wrong with it. The only way you know how something works or diesn’t is to try it. If it doesn’t work, move on.

Where are you located and what’s your nationality? I could offer some suggestions.

It sounds like that you are going to have to build up way to speak about your work, because you will need it after graduation. Real word is a conervative bunch.

Thank you for your replies. You have been very constructive and supportive in your answers.

I live in London, England and I am British if that is any help.

i can absolutely identify with the situation you are goin through… coz i have just come out of the same… trust me as long as u are a student there is not much you can do about it. all u could do is be a little more aware of the time constarints and try squeezing the project with in it… but yes you keep pushin the limits and keep challenging yourself…

that’s what i did… when i was in school…

neways best of luck for your future.

your ambition is a double edge sword.

In a positive light, ambition will drive you to become the best possible architect or designer or whatever it is you would love to be. You need that drive to sustain you through the hard times, and in college is one of the few places where you can follow your dreams and ambitions freely.

However (and there is almost always a however)

Professionally you have to know when to let go, when to stop the conceptual phase and dig in and get the job done. If you don’t deliver to your client a working solution to their need, you won’t have many clients… hence you won’t make any money.

It is hard to let go of a concept, a dream, something you see in your mind that hasn’t fully “bloomed” yet, but sometimes it must be done.

A compromise would be to get the idea to a point where you can make it work for your critique and make the deadline, and then pick one or two to really develop on your own time.

Also, if you feel that your school’s philosophy agrees with your own, you have the power and the ability to leave and find a new place of study, or discuss your feelings with your professors. Sometimes it is good to challenge your way of thought but if it really isn’t working for you, find a new school. It is your education, your money. Make the most of it, and take control of your own future.

that sounds really strange because first year architecture is always planned around very basic courses. you can’t design structures without fully understanding planning, construction methods and material which they teach normally in respective courses.

and besides the basics, i don’t know what you can do in 6 weeks time on your own that could be considered architecture, or even an architectural concept because the pros themselves in this field with hundreds of people as staff have a hard time coming up with an original concept in less than six months!!

let’s just say you’re only focusing on form, lighting, space, etc. do you really think that if it works for you in your mind that means it works for people that want to use it instantly. architecture is much more complicated than that.

thanks ufo for schooling us all. Did you get a job yet? Good luck with that.

yeah i got a job in china as a shoelace engineer.


I totally understand you. Only I studied Product Design (in the UK too).

I always tried to please myself and actually follow my own philosophy. Sometimes it took me a long time to come up with a good idea compared to others. My tutors didn’t really understand. They tried to push me to come up with an idea quickly and stick with it especially when the project was quite short. They compared it to industry, saying sometimes you just gotta go with one idea even if you dont like it very much. Otherwise you will run out of time and your client won’t understand either.
Looking back at all my projects I like the ones best where I could apply my philosophy and work within my timeframe.

So it’s very hard to give any advise really. It almost depends on what you want. maybe you should try one or two projects the way your tutors want you to work. So you have at least the experience and maybe find a way of generating, working out ideas and presenting your designs.