Advice for students of architecture

I have often give this advice to students of architecture, especially when they are in the 3rd year and above. I find many students tend to hear every single criticism as if all are valid, playing safe, afraid to be challenged and fear of making decisions. These traits are expected in an architectural office especially when you are a trainee, intern or a dispensable Part 2 architectural assistant (because you are expensive and scared), but it should not be for a student.

Whether it is a 3rd year project or design thesis, you have to have your own mind about what you want to achieve. You are not designing for someone else. At school is where you do your thing. Therefore you must know what you want to achieve. Later when you work you will translate your boss’s design. And work with other consultants in a team getting something built. As a student you must feel free to experiment. Find out things without fear.

For now you are designing your own project.

Times have change from when I was in 5th year at North London in 1990.
Now more emphasis is given on the building and its context unless your school allows or wants you to design in ‘fantasy’ or ‘hypothetically’.

So what does it means when you know what you want. It means that you utilize good critic and ignore bad ones and go for what you want to achieve. Maybe you want to design like Gunther Behnisch ( like what I wanted to do) but I did not understand him enough so I end up more like De Klerk or Berlage of the Amsterdam School. It’s okay. I tried. Maybe the section got a bit of Behnisch.

I also was influenced by calligraphy and used undulating forms but it’s basically stone ( travertine ), metal and glass. Also read about Sufism ie Rumi and stuff. Influential book was the Cultural Atlas of Islam by Ismail Faruqi.


FIGURES – from Naziaty Mohd Yaacob’s Design Thesis – The Quranic Studies Institute in London (1989-90)
The site is 800 metres from the Regent’s Park mosque, in between the mosque and Baker Street tube station.


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