M.Arch in a strange land

Musings on the successes and failures of a graduate architecture student.



Jun '12 - Sep '12

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    Week 68

    Ryan Panos
    Aug 27, '12 12:50 AM EST

    It’s a universal truth that the more you know, the more you in fact don’t know. When starting to investigate a subject, entire worlds open up with questions, and from those questions, ever more worlds, which inevitably lead to even more questions, and just when you think you have mastered a subject, boom, you realize you don’t really know anything.

    Having previously done two undergrad thesis’s, I can say I have a good handle on the pressures and disciplines that accompany it and to a certain extent, the architectural thesis process itself. More than any other project you have done, or will ever get commissioned to do, a thesis is a manifestation of you. Everything you think about your industry, your mannerism, your belief structure. There is not one aspect of a thesis that cannot be traced backed to you as a person, and ultimately compared to you. You are setting up the rules of the game, you are playing both sides, and it is ultimately a reflection of your experience and attitude as a designer.

    I decided a while ago what my thesis will be about, however its just a little frightening writing it down for the first or second time… It is about the practice of architecture itself.



    From the reading list above you might not come to that conclusion, but after a few discussions and observations on my own, to engage in a thesis that questions how architects work in this contemporary age, I am going to have to learn how people work. Architectural precedents and research will most likely underline and solidly current architectural practice methods, which in my opinion are stalled, outdated and/or hanging by a thread. You do not need to look far to witness the degradation of the discipline.

    It’s true: people don’t know what architects do

    Why do Architects dream of a World without them?

    Unemployment soars for architects

    The architecture meltdown

    And yet at least from my eyes architects do not seem to want to change. Any student who has sat in on a really accomplished project at the end of the semester has heard in some form or another the crits speak of “having to change the minds of society” “this is what we should be doing, but nobody wants to be the first”. For all of our beliefs that many aspects of society should change, the way architects work is not high on the list. There are lots of reasons why: inertia, risk, delusions of grandeur, the privilege of complaining about being an architect/ studying architecture.

    How I am going to do an academic thesis on architectural practice is still being decided, I am thinking of isolating practice issues (somehow) and testing them against a typology to measure the differences and hopefully reveal something about how architects work, it is still fermenting in my head. But the more important question seems to be “How can you do an academic thesis on the professional world of architecture” to that I would say “Practice itself is design, following a design through from ideation to completion requires as much design talent as the design of a building itself, even more, which makes it certainly worth studying at a academic level.”

    • 1 Comment

    • Endijs

      Really well describes ;)

      Sep 10, 12 1:19 pm

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A week by week journal of the ups and downs of getting through a master of architecture program in Vancouver Canada.

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