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    term one: and it begins

    Utako Oct 11 '09 3

    It's October and well into the first term of my M.Arch at Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. And it's been almost four weeks since class started and I'm already living the unhealthy lifestyle of a stereotypical architecture student (i.e. lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of time, lots of stress, lots of procrastination and lots of coffee) it's actually not so good.

    In studio right now, we are still working on the cube-section-cut assignment from the first week; except now we are having to skew, add skin, create model and take photographs of this arbitrary shape we created in our original drawings. Sounds easy, but it's very time consuming and actually kind of confusing. Sometimes this project makes me feel like a grad student trying to solve the complex math behind geometric shapes, and other times I feel like a kindergarden child throwing tantrums with sticky glue fingers.

    However, aside from falling into the traps of becoming a perpetual studio mole, there are many good things happening as well - like the many great lectures I've been attending as being offered by Daniels on a weekly basis. I've been really enjoying them so far because for one thing, the school's been doing an excellent job recruiting really interested speakers this year (with the new dean Richard Sommer). And number two, these lectures give me some quiet time outside of the studio dynamics where I can just sit and listen and think about things (usually related to architecture).

    So in the last two weeks, I've attended:

    Elnar Jarmund from JVA in Oslo. He showed us the 'Lost in Nature' lecture displaying numerous of his works from extremely cold climate areas. Clean and masculine structures beautifully situated into the surrounding landscapes, and with economical/efficient materials.

    The Road Show: Architectural Landscapes of Canada. Basically, designers from nine different firms got together, got on one bus and drove across Canada to do lectures at different cities. There was such a hype for this lecture (there was even an alleyway performance planned) but it was a bit hard to listen to nine speakers all in one go.. especially when each speaker had only 8 minutes to talk about their own practices. But interesting nonetheless.

    Dan Graham and his talk on 'Works between art and architecture'. Lots of images, lots of video and lots of his quirky character. It was all so so great -need I say more?

    A few I missed, including a lecture by Michael Maltzan from LA and Monica Ponce de Leon from UofMichigan which I heard were both very good. In any case, I'm looking forward to some of the other lectures coming up this term. Check out the school's website for upcoming events:
    http://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/events/lecture_series/4613

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    • 3 Comments

    • Nam HendersonNam Henderson
      Oct 11, 09 12:29 pm

      Oooh Dan Graham. I love hearing him speak.

      Stephanie
      Oct 11, 09 5:14 pm

      And it's been almost four weeks since class started and I'm already living the unhealthy lifestyle of a stereotypical architecture student (i.e. lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of time, lots of stress, lots of procrastination and lots of coffee) it's actually not so good.

      You know, I've often wondered why Architectural education in North America forces this kind of workaholism. Since starting my M.Arch in Copenhagen, I've had the wonderful experience of a program which does not imply by assigning projects in brute force that we must be at the studio working on something all the time.

      For the first month, we didn't have student cards, and therefore had no after hours access to the building. But even amongst the Danish students who already had cards, there was an example to be followed: no one came in after 6. No one came in on weekends.

      It's not that we are learning any less. The program is just structured differently, at least in my department. We complete all our supporting classes, like structures, and 3D modelling, and concept representation, as part of workshops at the beginning or end of the term. 3 months are devoted entirely to design. No daily lectures, no other projects, just design.

      It's like breathing an enormous sigh of relief to know that architecture school doesn't have to be a trial to be got through. One can establish normal working hours, have a normal diet, and maintain relationships with people who are in no way associated to the studio.

      I wonder if and when this kind of more humanist education will catch on in Canada and the States?

      Or do you think it is such an engrained part of the 'culture' of going to design school... that people would miss it?

      (I know I don't!)

      Stephanie

      PS, I would have been in your class if I had accepted at U of T, so it's really interesting to read about what kind of projects I 'could' have been doing as compared to what's going on here. Keep writing!

      Utako
      Oct 26, 09 12:09 am

      I've been thinking about your comments for a while. I was really skeptical of the whole studio environment (workaholic, as you say) at the beginning of the term as well.. and still feeling a bit overwhelmed by the 'this is how a design student should be' attitude adopted by some of my fellow colleagues.

      But the last little while I've been trying to figure out the good side to all this studio learning - and the one thing I found interesting is the diversity of the conversations flowing around studio, especially since everyone at Daniels comes from such different/unique backgrounds that often has nothing to do with architecture (i.e. engineers, graphic designers, philosophers) and from all over the world. So it's actually cool to see everyone pitch in their piece of expertise into the conversations, and sometimes you end up brewing some interesting design ideas during the many hours we spend in studio.

      I suppose, that's one good thing of emerging oneself in the studio environment at an interdisciplinary architecture school in North America. At the same time, though, we spend so much time there now a days that we have so little time to do our own things outside of school - which kind of counteracts our uniqueness! So there you go.

      Stephanie - you school systems in Germany sounds good as well and definitely with a different approach. Would love to see how it all goes in the coming months for both of us!

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