Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Architecture Studio Pro Tips

on March 11, 2013

One of the best things about studying architecture is that it includes a lot of experiential learning. Instead of sitting for hours wading through theory so dry you can never imagine an application for it, you get to spend hours experimenting with things. It can be hard work, but it is also playful work.

This liberty comes at a price: the studio critique session. This is when your studio group and your tutor will sit around and tell you all the things that are wrong with your presentation. Depending on your fellow students, their critique will be either compassionate or fair. Your tutor, on the other hand, is paid to point out something wrong with every single piece. With that in mind, I have a list of pro tips that should help you to survive your critique sessions with your ego intact.

  1. Read the assignment brief. Don’t rely on your friends to tell you what to do, because there is no guarantee that they have understood correctly.
  2. Submit an assignment that resembles the assignment brief. It is much easier to answer “why did you choose to make a model in this scale?” than to answer “how does this even relate to the assignment?”
  3. Submit all of the assignment requirements. There is no point spending 20 hours building a perfect model only to forget all of the supporting documentation.
  4. Read the assignment brief. The only people who will be impressed by your badass rebellion are the people who will be repeating the studio with you next year.
  5. Face your studio group and talk to them while you’re presenting. Facing the wall or your model will just get you told off by your tutor, and your fellow students might be friendlier to look at than your tutor seems to be.
  6. Remember that the critique is about your work, and not about you. If your tutor says “I don’t like it”, they aren’t saying “I don’t like you”.
  7. And, finally, read the assignment brief.

Studio critique sessions can be a great way to improve your understanding of how other people view your work, so that you can learn to improve your work. They require a thick skin, but you should be able to develop that after a few sessions. If you can’t, try writing some emotional poetry and submit it to an amateur critique group; studio critiques will never feel as bad again.


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