BARN21
// Architecture & Design
Search Icon
Architecture & Design category
ARCHITECTURE
& DESIGN
Portfolio category
PORTFOLIO
Photography category
PHOTOGRAPHY
Travel category
TRAVEL
Technology category
TECHNOLOGY
Music category
MUSIC
About & Contact category
ABOUT & CONTACT
Should You Study Architecture?
Based on the success of my Ten Tips For Success In Architecture School, I guess a lot of new students and potential students are interested in what architecture school is really like. Since you can’t study the subject before choosing it as your degree it can feel like a daunting leap into the unknown, I was certainly a little anxious before I started because I had so little knowledge of how the subject works. All I knew is that I wanted to work in a field that combines maths, physics and creative design, and architecture fits that bill perfectly. In order to help you decide whether a degree in architecture is right for you, I’m going to outline some characteristics that I think are relevant. Of course, the traits listed below are my personal opinion, so there’s no evidence that they are ideal for architecture. However, I’d like to think that through my own experience and observations I have a pretty good idea of what type of personality will enjoy studying the subject.
1. Are you bold and brave?
The decision in itself to study architecture is bold and brave, and that courage will have to show itself many more times throughout the degree. When you spend months creating something it takes guts to put it out to the world for comment. For this reason, as an architecture student you will have to be brave enough to face warranted critique, and sometimes even baseless criticism, with mature respect yet healthy resilience. Being bold also carries advantages. For me, the projects which grabbed my attention most at university were those that deviated from the norm set by the other students. Whilst this doesn’t mean you should design ridiculous, unsuitable buildings, combining functionality with unique, novel ideas will result in a project that stands out.
2. Are you self motivated?
It is often said that one of the most challenging aspects of starting university is the necessary adaptation to a self motivated mindset. This is especially relevant in architecture due to the ratio of low contact hours to high working hours. During my degree, whilst I only had approximately five and a half hours of timetabled study per week (four of which were lecture modules), I worked for an average of almost sixty hours. This is not uncommon, and some studies claim that architecture students put in more hours than any other degree. There is no substitute for hard work, and if you want to be a successful architecture student you will need to be focused and determined. If you are considering the degree, don’t worry if you feel that you are not currently very self motivated. When you start you will learn quickly how much you need to do and can decide how much you want to push yourself.
3. Do you get a kick out of solving problems?
If you adore solving problems, whether it’s maths questions, travelling logistics or fixing some kind of mechanism, architecture may be the degree for you. Only after starting university did I realise what a big part of the degree problem solving is, and also how much I love it. When you walk around degree shows on open days you don’t often see much of the messy, behind the scenes development during which students work through dozens of issues. From the start of a project to its bitter end you will be resolving issues in all kinds of areas. Efficient page layouts, how to express your concept clearly, fitting toilets into a plan you don’t really want to change, representing specific materials in a model, how to get said model that’s the size of a table from your house to the studio without breaking it, fitting everything you’ve done into a beautiful final presentation, and finally what to do when all the printers seem to be against you two hours before the deadline. From my own observations and conversations with classmates, those who seemed most enthusiastic about the degree seemed to get a thrill from solving problems and a big dose of satisfaction when they finally nail the ideal solution.
4. Are you able to think long term?
If you adore solving problems, whether it’s maths questions, travelling logistics or fixing some kind of mechanism, architecture may be the degree for you. Only after starting university did I realise what a big part of the degree problem solving is, and also how much I love it. When you walk around degree shows on open days you don’t often see much of the messy, behind the scenes development during which students work through dozens of issues. From the start of a project to its bitter end you will be resolving issues in all kinds of areas. Efficient page layouts, how to express your concept clearly, fitting toilets into a plan you don’t really want to change, representing specific materials in a model, how to get said model that’s the size of a table from your house to the studio without breaking it, fitting everything you’ve done into a beautiful final presentation, and finally what to do when all the printers seem to be against you two hours before the deadline. From my own observations and conversations with classmates, those who seemed most enthusiastic about the degree seemed to get a thrill from solving problems and a big dose of satisfaction when they finally nail the ideal solution.

From observation of my peers the most successful architecture students also tend to be long term thinkers in the scale of a project. In architecture school most projects last one semester, or about three months. That is a long time to be focusing on one final outcome, so it is important that you are able to keep in mind the long term benefits of your effort. Being able to consider the whole timeline of the semester also aids time planning and stops you falling behind. Whilst it will still be hard, if you’re a long term thinker you’ll be able to do things that short term thinkers simply can’t, like dragging yourself out of bed at 6am on a Sunday morning to go to studio.
5. Are you an optimist?
For me, the most important characteristic for any architecture student or practising architect to have is optimism. If you’ve read my other articles or spoken to me in person you will know how enthusiastic I am about the potential for architecture to improve the lives of all of humanity. As an architect you are a creator, and you have to believe that what you create will have a positive impact, otherwise what’s the point? Optimism will facilitate better collaboration, communication and ideas between you, your peers and your tutors. It will also make you happier and more enthusiastic to work hard on your projects if you perceive them to have a positive impact. As an experiment, from the students in my year that got the highest possible grade I worked out what percentage come across as optimists. The result was almost 80%, which is quite staggering. I know of some pessimistic tutors that seem to be miserable working in architecture, so if you’re a glass half empty kind of person maybe architecture isn’t for you.

So that’s the list. If you answered yes to most of those questions I would urge you to seriously consider a degree in architecture. Whilst it is tough, it is a hugely rewarding and well respected degree that teaches a number of skills which can be applied to a wide variety of professions. If you’re currently engaging in the process of choosing your university degree and have any questions about architecture feel free to fire them my way. You can find my email and other contact details on the About & Contact page, I’ll try my best to help you.