Architecture School: Part 5 — bollards and sidewalks
This article is part of a series discussing and reminiscing my years in Architecture academia. These stories are substantially extracted from facts but are also filtered with my perspective and opinion. Therefore, not everyone that went through the same process will echo my sentiments. Still, similarities will undoubtedly arise, for there is a kinship among participants who go through the same gauntlet.
Bollards are short post used to prevent traffic from entering an area. This definition infers a form of traffic that would be impeded by said object, like say a vehicle that cannot fit through the gaps of the bollards or jump over them.
Older cities with narrow streets have these street objects in abundance. It is both a way of directing movement in streets but at the same time a safety measure, as these objects can prevent a vehicle from entering sidewalks and hitting a pedestrian.
The semester abroad was, in one way, a vacation for me. It was a time for me to take stock and look at the profession that I am dedicating myself from another perspective. Travelling in and around Germany and the greater European continent was also a good way to get a new perspective.
Looking at how people envision themselves that is not in my perspective is a fascinating way of establishing your own. It became an exercise of pros and cons for me.
The main impact of studying in Germany and at Fachhochschule Mainz is the realisation that I am first and foremost going to be an Architect that has a primary goal of actually building every project that he gets involved in.
Sure the ideas, the image and vision are important too as they establish a goal or quality to strive for. But at the end of the day, the proof is in the pudding. The professor for my course in Germany said, ideas are for rookies, logistics and execution are for pros.
The plan now coming back is to get some actual experience. It is not enough to get the degree, but I aim now to have some sort of proof that I have practically applied all the design thinking that I was getting thought from the last three years.
I also decided that regardless of how much I love Wellington, I think I need a bigger city.
So I decided to finish off my studies at Victoria University of Wellington in the third year with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies. Have a year off and move to Auckland to study at UNITEC Institute of Auckland and pursue my Masters of Architecture (professional) there.
First to discuss the year off. There is such a thing as burn-out and it is prevalent in Architecture school. There is a reason why the curriculum has a high drop-off rate. Even for students that are achieving at a high level. I think even more so for the. And it doesn’t stop there. It continues onto the actual practice of Architecture.
Second, the choice of UNITEC over the University of Auckland will be discussed briefly below as this entails a lot of research. I simply did not want to go to a school simply because it was easy to get in.
First, the gap year. The goal for this one is simply two things: money and experience. The money is for the move the following year to Auckland. The experience is really in the design industry. The expectation was low in this regard. I am simply keen to get experience with any branch of design. Be it in Architecture, interiors or graphics.
Hey, if there was even an opportunity for me to work in fashion I would not mind it.
I managed to find a start-up that aims to produce contemporary designs in terms of houses and furniture. Since it was a start-up, money was sparse but I have the skills and tools to assist in terms of this. In that sense, all I asked was to be able to include the work I have done with them in my portfolio.
I also managed to get some freelance work in terms of graphic design and general drafting at the same time which mainly came from my connections in the hospitality industry (bars, restaurants, etc.). The graphic design work comprised of web, logo and layout design for menus. The drafting work was a one-off for a local grocer in Martinborough in the Wairarapa region that needed the existing conditions of their warehouse drawn up and a proposal for a new office.
Full disclosure, I have no idea what I am doing in terms of fees and negotiation with that second aspect. I simply googled simple forms and contracts that I can present to potential clients to have some sort of written agreement that I can refer to later on if a dispute in payment or deliverables crop up. That’s another story altogether.
On top of this, I was also working for bars and restaurants for at least 20+ hours a week. I know this is a lot, but a goal is a goal and I intend to achieve it.
Second, the Masters’ degree at UNITEC.
While I was saving and hustling to get that funding for the move to Auckland, I made some enquiries about the options in that city. At the time, it was simply either the University of Auckland or UNITEC. The former being well known overseas and its theoretical base in terms of the pedagogy of Architecture, the latter due to its balance in the teaching of design theory and its practical application.
I went with the latter. The goal now is to be able to build what I design. We will start with small things (e.g. houses and sheds) and incrementally increase our knowledge of bigger things (i.e. high rise commercial spaces to cityscapes).
There is a catch. Since I came from a programme (i.e. VIC) I need to do some additional courses in UNITEC’s Bachelor of Architecture programme before I can even apply and see if I qualify for their Master’s programme. This is two years in the Bachelor of Architecture Studies, and two years in the Master’s programme.
A four-year setback? Maybe. But I think this is necessary. The clarity I have right now is that I can keep hustling at freelance work as I have done from the year before while building my knowledge.
Four years later, I have my Master’s degree concluding with a thesis that has set-up my mind in the type of work that I wish to pursue. Even to the end that my interest in the work is stronger than ever before.
There has been a lot of adjustment and redefining through this particular chapter of my life and I think this is necessary. There were phases in it that I believe I have made mistakes, but I stepped back and re-adjusted. Adapted to the new pieces of information that were provided. I learned on the fly and I think this is the most vital lesson here.
Whatever the goal is, go for it and learn things along the way. Because in-action is your biggest enemy.