Seek Counsel

It is important as architecture students to seek counsel from mentors. Sometimes, it is in talking about your work, which makes it clearer to you. Even talking to some of your classmates about your struggles, might give you some direction. It is important to know that the art of design is not a solo endeavour. As much as we love the idea of the ‘starving artist’ who locks himself in a basement and creates revolutionary work – that idea is outdated and frankly unpractical, especially in the field of architecture. As a designer, it is good to be a ‘sponge,’ and be open to outside influence and to learn from other people, even people from other disciplines. Go ‘crit’ your work with your friends who are studying different courses. You will be surprised what extraordinary input you can receive from others.

Seek counsel from your favourite architects. You may not be able to speak to them in person but you can find them in books and on the internet. You can even spend as much time with them as you like just picking their brain. Study and learn about your favourite architects and understand their design principles and philosophies until you get to the root of their work. When you feel you have them all figured out, move on to the next one. Every great architect or designer you can think of is a product the people they admired and learned from. You are the sum of all your influences.

Seek counsel from your parents and grandparents. If you can’t explain your design to your grandparents then you don’t really understand what you’re doing.  It’s amazing what progress you can make from trying to explain your project in layman’s terms to your parents.

Seek counsel from your lecturers, as obvious as this may seem, there are still many people I know who refuse to ‘crit’ with lecturers; only to show up with the final product on pin-up day, having not spoken to the lecturers about their work. One statement I’ve heard countless times on presentation day was lecturers telling students that even though their work was good, had they come to them earlier, the lecturer could have helped to make the work far better. Despite what you may think, your lecturers are not the enemy – they actually want you to do well. If you are absolutely terrified of your own lecturer, then go seek counsel from other lecturers with whom you feel more comfortable talking to. Either way, don’t sit and expect to resolve every problem on your own.

Architecture is unlike any other form of design – it is one that directly influences the lives of people. Hence there’s no way you can expect to resolve a design problem without consulting other people. In practice, architects consult other designers, engineers, surveyors, contractors and specialists. Without outside help from other professionals, architects would be merely artists.

You are not dumb or stupid if you ask for help. The only stupid question is the one you never ask.

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