1. You don’t NEED to be excellent at drawing.
Contrary to popular belief, rendering like a true artist is a non-essential part of being an architect.
Sure, it’s an impressive skill to have, but for the most part, being able to draw clearly is of higher worth. Sketching is very important for the thought and communication processes of architectural work – but the clarity of your drawings holds more weight than their flashiness.
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2. You’ll be using computers to refine your work.
Sketching is great for fleshing out broad ideas and moves. But during the tail-ends of each design project, it’s more time-efficient to refine your work and do the final drawings with computer software. And so you might be dipping your toes into a myriad of programs that your local scene gravitate towards.
The best bang for your buck would be to learn a 2D Drafting Software (like AutoCAD), a 3D modelling software (like Sketchup and 3Ds Max), and a BIM Software (like ArchiCAD or Revit).
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3. You’ll be drafting and making models.
Before you even start clicking your mouse to do architectural work, chances are that you’ll be taught how to do things manually first – and rightly so.
Drawing beautifully isn’t an essential skill in becoming an architect, but being able to draft manually an accurate plan, section or spot-detail is. It’s been the base of the profession for a long, long time, and even the advent of computer technology doesn’t negate the need to draw a manual plan.
In the same way, being able to accurately put together a physical model as a tool in the design process provides more freedom than being limited by your skills in 3D modelling.
So don’t be surprised if many of your professors make the cardboard sketch model the base of your visualization process. You’ll be making a lot of them, so get your hands accustomed to the feeling of glue.
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4. You will have all-nighters.
As much as I’m one to suggest taking care of your health and working a little everyday to prevent cramming – I know fully well that there are times when this just isn’t possible.
Sometimes the deadlines of all the requirements suddenly have no other way to go but squeeze into a narrow stretch of time, leaving you scrambling to speed up your work process.
It’s a sad truth. You will have to experience, and deal with all-nighters in your stay in architecture school. But it’s very possible to minimize these occurrences.
You can keep these hell nights to a minimum by working smart, diligently, and effectively. All it takes is some sacrifice, discipline, and willingness to adjust for what’s important.
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5. You will have to work hard to better yourself.
Unlike many other intellectual courses, Architecture isn’t something you can half-ass and expect to get better at. If anything, you might be extremely talented at drawing or doing calculations – but that is no assurance that you’ll do great in the course as a whole. The common denominator is a constant commitment to better yourself holistically.
I’ve seen Math wizards cruise through deadly Accounting because numbers are second nature to them. I’ve also seen friends in Social Science courses soar consistently because reading, analyzing, and communicating is one of their fondest proficiencies.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find such an ideal inclination in a course like architecture. This is because architectural education is creative, humanistic, as well as analytical and mathematical. It’s not just one or the other.
Chances are, you will have some holes to fill in which you aren’t too well-versed in. You’ll need to dip your toes and find your balance in both ends of the spectrum – which is easier said than done.
Related Post: Don’t Be Discouraged: Why Having A Flawed First Design Project is NORMAL. (Q&A #4)
6. Your smartphone is an invaluable tool.
The biggest movement that brought joy and relief to my sanity and well-being was the advent of the smartphone. Suddenly I could be connected to my social media accounts 24/7.
More importantly, I could do my assignments, watch a few videos, and read a few advanced topics while on my daily commute. Technology has been invaluable in enhancing our productivity – so take advantage of the fact that you can Google your butt off from anywhere in the world.
If you’re serious about bettering yourself and honing the craft, effective but leisurely research is the first habit a clueless freshman should undertake. Be hungry to devour information that will make you a more well-read architect. Talent is weak without knowledge and understanding.
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On another note, congratulations to all the passers of this year’s UPCAT exam! 😀
I sincerely hope a good number of you will go down the lovely road of architecture, and kick some ass to drive our profession forward.