Review: One month

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It has been a­ month since I first started my job as a part one Architectural assistant and so far I have learned a great deal about myself and the reality of  Architecture. It is amazing, and perhaps concerning, how the longer I spend at work, the more unprepared and inadequate I feel about my skills and what I am able to do.

During my first week at work, I felt excited and full anticipation to begin this new chapter of my journey. This sense that i was getting closer to my dream of becoming an architect was the biggest motivator to learn and to set a good impression. I wanted to do well and to do it right, first time.

But I suppose as with anything else of the same nature, I realised that it was not enough, I was overly ambitious to adopt a work routine and to carry out “real work” (whatever that meant). I had not given myself the time to absorb my new life and as a result, expectations and reality did not cohere. This had only caused further delays for myself, in the way I work and in the I processed what was happening around me.

I quickly realised that part of the reason for my initial failure was in fact the gap between expectations set at university of what working life was like, and work in reality. A simple comparison between university and work in terms of the design process is enough to demonstrate this. As a student, design was based around three main aspects; site, program and concept. The articulation of a building was the result of a deep understanding of what is there and what could be there. How to create an inspiring intervention in a focused and controlled manner. Designing at university was enjoying and inspired me to tune my process.

Design at work on the other hand is ‘down to earth’, logical and pragmatic. The three aspects mentioned above are still relevant but are not the deciding factors of what a building will look like or how it functions. Instead, non-physical aspects such as number of units required, type clients and policy are a huge determining factor. This by no means de-values the architecture produced, in-fact meeting such aspects enhances design because they far more vague and therefore require better judgement.

This change of focus in the design process was/is difficult to get accustomed to, but it is understandable and I guess an inevitable step when designing for non-design orientated clients. I suppose this is just one of the many changes that I have had and will have to encounter in my future at work.  I only hope that I will learn to accept that change is inevitable and that its not always necessary to get things right first time.

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