Second installment of the workshop felt like the fastest three hours ever! In awe with the participants’ commitment, I admired and respected their passion for learning — the way they were striving to stretch their comfort zone — developing, acquiring knowledge and expanding existing skills. It made me think of life as work-in-progress.
Learning something completely new, no matter what your relationship with architecture is, was the focus. We continued with the steps outlined in DIY Like an Architect. Upon producing 2-d parti diagrams, we had to conceptualize them in 3-d.
The discussion right after the completion of this segment reinforced, even emphasized what was discovered through mind mapping and collage exercises. Revealing a host of consistencies, the effort substantiated my proclamations of how beneficial it is to follow your heart when brainstorming at the beginning of every project.
Rushing to dive into the next topic, we could only marvel at “sculptural abstractions” for a brief moment. I had some explaining to do on the subject of scaled drawings. Everyone knew what a floor plan is, but the concept of section and elevation seemed not as familiar. A visual aid, a model for one of my projects, made it easier to present a lot of pertinent information.
Thus, I brought out tracing paper, and we switched gears, delving into the technical aspects, such as standard drawing conventions. Designing within limits and according to rules is much of the fun. One piece of advice was to always sketch a wall in plan with two lines, to give it thickness.
Translating a parti into a design is the hardest part of the workshop. But the participants were willing to struggle with it. The creative spirit was palpable. I kept reminding that it’s about the space, the three-dimensional volume.
About 15 minutes before we had to go our separate ways, I invited everyone to show where they were at. Clearly, all of the projects were still at square one. It takes hours and hours and a lot of energy to translate a concept into a plan. They just got their feet wet, encountered their first challenges.
However, I want to believe that having started this process, my students will carry on. Hopefully, they will stick with, work through it.
I trust they will nurture and cultivate that need to design a space or a dwelling. It will stem from their passion for learning. I believe they will take the time (however long) to grow their initial interest.
In the words of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “… it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”
Moving forward, I hope they continue imagining their ideal home, writing things down as they come up, always paying attention, looking at spaces, taking in as much as possible. I would encourage them to sketch; it helps to soak in what you see. They should touch things, always compiling, collecting new inspiration. And very importantly, they need to talk it out for collaborative input.
Perhaps, this intimate encounter with a process an architect goes through will change the course of their lives. If they think of what they’ve started as an evolving project, a work-in-progress, there should come a time when all bits and pieces will belong together.
Passion for learning allows one to feel a sense of accomplishment while making headway. Ability to persevere and grow from a challenging experience is the key to infinite refinement of that work-in-progress.