Nylda Hamchaoui is a third year architecture student at UEL and blogs about this subject for Your Universe. Her opinions are her own.
Is Architecture healthy?
There are many ways of looking at this, as a student submerged in the reality of the curriculum but also as an individual living and existing within the built environment.
Studying architecture is a creative route that requires constant dialogue, which I have observed as similar to the profession itself. To some, our ideas can be seen as answers to problems, of the short or long term existence of our inhabitation within buildings. We often confront and negotiate more with ourselves than with others, trying to find the best way to express what we see. So it is not a surprise when you see students in the AVA stay long hours in the studio. We are trying to see what has been seen and what could be of the existing spaces around us.
I wouldn’t want to say that we never find the ‘answer’ that we are looking for because that would be pessimistic to assume. Instead, we grow rather than find what we are looking for. For those who are fond of gardening, you would know how much physical, mental labour and patience it requires to do grow something, let alone grow it right. You do not simply finish what you have drawn, the ideas never really stop growing because within tutorials and discussions, we are constantly watering the ideas we have. What does this have to do with being healthy? Well, it can feel challenging when we go farther into investigating our ideas because there is no finish line. It is very difficult to stop working, especially when it gets exciting.
Sometimes sleep and food is sacrificed when your drawings start to feed your brain. This usually happens when the design process snowballs, where there is an endless possibility of a final (not finished) proposal. The speed at which you can produce work comes into question, as you’ll have more to do in less time but in essence you can now do more. We all have different circumstances that influence how much work we can produce, but the skill or rather the ability to quickly correct and refine your work will allow you to produce quality. From one student to another it is clear what quality looks like. We tend to think that the longer we spend on one thing, the better it will become. Although that is the case, it is the fact that we spend time doing one thing many times that ends up producing more quality and quantity.
Once we have completed a task, we must move on to follow this cycle once again in another area of our design work. Studies are a battle between quality and quantity, with the hours invested and the resources used, and that is generally evident across all academia. To find balance can be more difficult in creative fields than others. When you want to achieve more, not just through grades but through skill set and experience of an array of mediums, it is clear that you must go beyond what we deem to be a normal working day to make the most of ideas when they arise.
To say that is architecture is unhealthy is to be ignorant of the commitment that architecture requires of you. We must acknowledge that it is a wholesome degree that accommodates for so much more learning than the work we produce could ever reflect.