#Architalks #Choices

This post is part of the ArchiTalks series where a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. The Topic ‘Leader’ for this post ‘Choices’ is Nisha Kandiah.

So the choices you make will set where you end up in the future. So ‘Choose wisely’.

So let’s take a few examples starting from the age of say 11-13 and put this into the contact of an architect’s lifetime:

1. When you start secondary school you’re going to have to think early about your choices. The ideal scenario IMHO for subjects at this age to choose are:

• Art
• Technical Drawing
• Maths
• Physics
• Construction Studies (a great subject here in Ireland)

2. As you progress through secondary school you may have to get a bit more specialised. Here you’re going to have to think about where you’re specialities lie:

• Are you more interested in the technical aspects rather than the design of architecture? If so maybe you should think about architectural technology?

• Maybe you’re interested in the structural aspects of building? Maybe you should consider a career in Structural Engineering?

• Maybe you’re interested in the Thermal and ventilation aspects of the building? Maybe a career in Passivhaus or LEAD type areas would be best?

3. So now you’ve made a few choices at school and you’ve been accepted to ‘Architecture School’. here again the Choices of the projects that you take on will influence your work later:

• Are you interested in the art & concept or are you interested in practicalities

• Are you interested in big or small?

• Are you interested in working on your own or working in a team (the latter is closer to what you’ll experience in ‘real-life’)

• Are you interested in traditional or contemporary.

See where I’m heading here. There are a lot of choices that you can make (even at this very early stage) that will take you down specific paths later in life.

4. OK so you’ve gone through ‘Architecture School’ – where are your next Choices ?

The first job that you take on (normally in the UK or Ireland will be after the first 3/4 years of college) will also fix a path for your future.

• Is the Practice big or small?

• Will you get the chance to run projects?

• Is the Practice traditional or contemporary

• What is the mix of the Practice’ work?

• Will you be a small cog in a big machine or the opposite?

What’s interesting is that the choices you’ve made at college (presumably choosing things that interest you and you like to do) will now have an effect upon the type of practice that you will work for. When you are getting interviewed for a position they will be looking at whether you will be able to undertake the type of work that the practice does – and this is done by looking at the projects you have chosen at college and how you have completed them.

So then you start working and again the choices on the types of project that the Practice takes on will effect your choices should you decide to move to another practice. In much the same way as an actor can become type-cast when he only takes on certain roles – you too as an architect can become type cast and will only be known for completing certain types of buildings. Now this is fine if it’s the type of work that you enjoy doing and want to do. But if it’s not the work that you want to do then get some experience first and then move job to the practice where you will be undertaking projects of the type you want to do.

Even if you have your own business (as I do) then you can also become type-cast in the types of projects that you are known for. My speciality are residential projects of all scales; from the humblest cottage to the big houses at 500m2+ – I enjoy doing this and happy to work on projects of this type. I occasionally work on other projects such as small Commercial and I also do a bit of lecturing so I do get a bit of variety. My advice therefore is that if you feel that you are getting stuck in a rut and doing the ‘wrong’ projects then in much the same way as David Bowie had several incarnations of himself (Ziggy, Thin White Duke etc…) then you must reinvent yourself also.

Comments as always welcome…

To read how the other ‘blogging architects’ have interpreted this theme click the links below:

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Mark R. LePage – EntreArchitect (@EntreArchitect)
Limit Their Stress By Limiting Their Choices

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Choices — It’s Everything!

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A million choices

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
How Do You Deal with Choices During the Design Process?

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Life is a Gamble that depends upon your choices

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Slow… merge… stop

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
Choose Your Battles

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