Architects are often noted for having bad work-life balance, a lot of stress and little free time. How can you take time off while still improving your skills as an architect? Can that time off even give you an extra edge? Compared to other fields, architecture stands out as a field in which you need to “know a little bit about everything." Thus, in order to live up to our name we must also do a little bit of everything, and as they say, a little goes a long way. So with that in mind, here are 11 activities which, while not obviously architectural, just might make you a better architect.
Self Improvement: The Latest Architecture and News
Access to housing, both in the case of purchasing or renting, with any type of financing, is usually one of the most important economic investments in people's lives. It is natural to ask oneself what considerations are necessary in order to have a knowledge base before acting.
For decades, SketchUp has been one of the most well-known 3D modeling programs in the design world, owed to its intuitive working tools and labyrinth of user-generated accessories, from open source libraries to plugins. Quite often, SketchUp is the software of choice for engaging children with architecture, due to its availability, flexibility, and ease of use.
Later in your design career, you could be forgiven for dismissing SketchUp as a 'rookie tool', a beginner's level below the advanced stages of Revit, Rhino, and AutoCAD. However, as SketchUp has evolved throughout the years, it now contains a formidable array of functions, capable of producing complex, exportable results in an organized, efficient manner for students and senior partners alike.
From geo-location to sun-paths, here are 10 very useful tips to make you the model SketchUp user of the office.
Architects design and organize spaces; without space, there is no architecture. So it goes without saying, therefore, that spatial intelligence is of high importance to architects. Luckily for us, spatial intelligence is not something you’re inherently gifted at or just “born with,” it’s something that can be trained and improved through practice. More practice means more advancement, so why not make it enjoyable and easy—easy enough even to do in your everyday life? From drawing to speaking to engaging in play, here are 9 everyday activities to improve your spatial intelligence.
Our modern day, image-obsessed culture has got us consuming a large quantity of architecture through photographs, as opposed to physical, spatial experiences. The advantages of architectural photography are great; it allows people to obtain a visual understanding of buildings they may never get the opportunity to visit in their lifetime, creating a valuable resource that allows us to expand our architectural vocabulary. However, one must stay critical towards the disadvantages of photography when it comes to architecture. Jeremy Till, author of “Architecture Depends,” summarizes this in his chapter “Out Of Time”: “The photograph allows us to forget what has come before (the pain of extended labor to achieve the delivery of the fully formed building) and what is to come after (the affront of time as dirt, users, change, and weather move in). It freezes time or, rather, freezes out time. Architectural photography ‘lifts the building out of time, out of breath,’ and in this provides solace for architects who can dream for a moment that architecture is a stable power existing over and above the tides of time.”
The following tips aim to not only improve the visual strength of your architectural photography, but also the stories that they can tell—going beyond the individual images in order to communicate buildings’ relationships with their contexts, space and time.
Great architects are like great writers. Our abilities to observe the world around us down to the tiniest details, and then make the most remarkable connections, have in time given humanity great stories and experiences - whether through imagined or real spaces. As Charles Eames put it, "Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The key to quality of the connections is the key to quality per se."
As architects, we have a nearly endless succession of connections to make, from materials, to geography, to time, to people, to experiences and statements of our own beliefs, all coming together in the design of a space. Novels are therefore a great way to remind yourself of the creative possibilities that architecture holds, encouraging you to dream about what architecture could be; and what experiences could be. These 7 non-architectural novels each have their own qualities that could open up the architectural world (and provide you with an enjoyable reading list in your time off). Enjoy!
New year, new me! Or perhaps for architects, new Moleskine, new me? While a lot has happened in the world of architecture this year, it’s just as important to reflect on your own personal architectural practices. Whether 2017 ushers in the start or end of a degree, a new job, a new project, or just more architectural life as usual, there’s no better time to make a resolution or two. As we approach the calendar change, here are 22 ideas for how you could improve yourself in the new year.
"Originality is dead" is not an uncommon phrase to hear in our modern, information packed era of Big Data and easy access to source material. If you take a look at Google’s Ngram Viewer, the use of the word "originality" appears to have waned; it is now roughly as common as it was at in 1800, with its peak use occurring just before 1900. So what was going on around that peak time? In 1893, the first moving pictures were played; in 1989, the first escalator was installed; in 1899, aspirin was invented; and 1901 saw the first wireless transmission sent from England to Canada. 
At that time, the development of various forms of technology was allowing and encouraging people to explore and fulfill ideas that could only have been dreamed of in the past. But without this injection of new tools, it's difficult to compete with 200,000 years of new ideas; so to help you do so, here are seven aspects of our modern world that make it difficult to come up with original ideas, and ways you can combat them.
Virtual 3D Modeling has for decades been increasing in its popularity, yet hand-made models are far from extinct. Perhaps a reason for this is that despite the "3D" in "3D modeling," viewing those models on a screen or print is still, effectively, two-dimensional. A physical model of course can be held in your hand, examined and understood spatially in a way that a CAD model can’t. It can also be used as a quick and intuitive 3D sketch to get some ideas going. Whether it's for a client or a professor, models are almost always necessary in order to produce a complete understanding of the relationship between spaces in your design. To make the most use of this tool, read on for tips on how to improve your modeling: