Top 37 things architects and constructing architects never say

Architects can be many things but normal. And there any many clichés and stereotypes assigned to them. And stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. See if you have ever said one of these sentences.

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  1. We are under budget and everything goes according to the schedule.
  2. That contractor really knows what they are doing.
  3. We cannot build that! That would be too expensive.
  4. I slept so long and well tonight.
  5. My partner picked us a nice house from a catalogue. I can’t believe how cheap these houses are. We are going to move in in June.
  6. I can’t decide whether to buy a new car or go on a vacation. Probably both. (That would developer say)
  7. I do not know how this will be supported. That’s an engineer’s job.
  8. I love when clients tell me how to design. It feels like I am not working at all.
  9. You want to spend that much money on it? Half of that will suffice.
  10. That doesn’t matter.
  11. My opinion is not important.
  12. I do not have many books. And what I have is fiction.
  13. I do not care about concrete.
  14. I love doing cost estimations. Monotonous work is so calming.
  15. It took me just an evening to come up with this.
  16. I have lots of different hobbies, which are not related to architecture.
  17. I chose this because it was cheaper.
  18. Can I borrow your pen?
  19. I did not know what to do, so I picked an architecture school.
  20. Living in suburbs is the best.
  21. I do not drink coffee.
  22. I know everything about Revit, it was a piece of cake to learn.
  23. It was my fault, the contractor was just following my drawings.
  24. I do not want to design my own house.
  25. My partner appreciates that I am coming home early every day.
  26. My wardrobe is so colourful. (That would interior designer say)
  27. I can’t believe they are paying me that much for this.
  28. I had plenty of time to design that.
  29. I always know what I am doing. (Well, you might hear that, but it is a lie)
  30. Well, that tree has to be cut. It does not comply with my idea. Besides, there are plenty of them around.
  31. I have just enough architecture from work. Let’s talk about something else.
  32. I had this car for two years. Time for an upgrade. (That would developer say)
  33. Regulations are very important and there is no contradiction in them. Those things are so well thought through. (That would bureaucrat say)
  34. That’s fine, keep it like that. No one will notice.
  35. Hand sketching is overrated.
  36. The project is perfect and I would not change a thing.
  37. I will gladly tell you what I think of your house, my friend.
  38. I don’t need a calculator, I can count it in my head.
  39. LEGO is for kids.
  40. We should ask an interior designer what do they think about this.
  41. I love those cheap pens and pencils from IKEA (Busted, I use IKEA pencils, bummer)
  42. I have so much free time, I think I will start a blog.
  43. How about a compromise?
  44. There is no value in old buildings.
  45. Engineers deserve more credit for what they do.
  46. I love this building how it is.
  47. Let’s just finish this. Forget how it looks like.
  48. I am done.

Do you think I missed any? Write it in the comment section.

Cheers

Ondrej

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Are architects handy?

Every architect, constructing architect or when we are at it, every man, thinks they are handy. The truth is, it is completely different to draw something and to be able to execute it. And architecture needs both. A brilliant mind to invent the construction and golden hands to build it skillfully. However, we often confuse these two things together. We think that when we buy the right (and usually quite expensive) tools, everything is nearly done. And don’t get me wrong, you need the right and quality tools. But you also need to know how to use them. And because architects usually have quite a high opinion of themselves, they often dive into some kind of DIY projects and eventually, the majority fails spectacularly. I have been blessed with a handy father, who could probably repair, build or assemble anything if he wanted and had enough time. And he taught me few things every now and then when I was willing to listen. And I hope I inherited a tiny part of his finesse.

And since my flat was trying to kill me for long enough. One day I decided My girlfriend wanted to have curtains in front of the windows since we are exposed to the views of whoever lives in the building opposite from our flat, plus that murderous maniac, the sun.

However the majority of curtain hangers are meant to be attached in front of the windows or above them, so they are facing inwards. And we needed something that could be attached between two walls and the bar could be inserted between.

And as a true constructing architect, the solution was invented in a heartbeat. However the solution on a piece of paper is one thing, getting it done is something completely else. As I soon discovered.

For industrial grade curtain hanger DYI project you will need:

 

2x Face fix hangers 45X88 mm

Threaded rod M14, length 2m

Drill

Screws depending on your wall type

Confidence

Metal saw

 

And with this shopping list in my head, I headed to local retail chain specialised on home improvement and construction.

Luckily, I had most of the tools from my father (I got the drill for Christmas). So if anyone looked just at my toolbox they would probably think I am a seasoned craftsperson. That could not have been further from the truth. This was not the first project I did in our flat. It was, however, so far the best one (in my opinion). And with all that tools I first marked the exact position where I wanted the hanger to be. Then I predrilled small hole so I could screw it easily.

And that was it. One screw on each side is enough to hold the bar and the curtains, we are not holding the timber joists as is the original purpose of these hangers.

The next fight is an architect with metal saw vs. threaded rod.

Threaded rod fought bravely. Still, no match for my metal saw.

And a finished result with the curtains. I think I nearly busted the myth that architects only think they are handy. But let’s be honest. That was really a simple project. And even though it is simple I love it! I think it works well with the industrial features of our apartment. I think it is an efficient and raw expression of our flat. And since form follows function, these curtains are easily pulled from side to side and at the same time, they are not sliding, since the rod is threaded and can be easily taken out with one simple move.

The solution in detail.

And one of the by-products of this was the boost of my handyman’s self-esteem. In the beginning, I was kind of afraid since my reputation was at stake, but I screwed it nailed it! When I had an idea about this post, I was expecting that the conclusion will be something about how that myth is not a myth at all, but a cold hard truth. And I surprised myself. So for a post about how I miserably failed, you will have to wait until I will decide to tackle another project my girlfriend will want to improve another aspect of our flat.

Cheers

Ondrej

Just keep swimming

Summer is here, but what does it mean for us? If you are a university student, you are now free. Free from the university routine. Free from deadlines, tasks, objectives. So what now? Are you planning to just lay at home, party with friends and do nothing? Or do you have something prepared for yourself? Some personal deadline, some project or creative outlet? Maybe you were thinking about doing something and you never had time to do so. And now is the right time to try that. Two months without any regime is too long. If you won’t keep your mind occupied it could get dull.

Do not let that happen. Sharpen your mind again. Be a master of your time. Set yourself some goals. Wake up at a reasonable time every day. Sketch! Go for a run! Learn a new piece of software! Read a book! Start a blog! Try new things! Whatever you have lust for.

Just do not waste the time you have. It is very comfortable to just lay down, watch movies, waste time on social media and relax. But once, you will regret not doing these things when you could. Not today, not tomorrow, but one day, you will. Our time on earth is limited and we are painfully aware of that. If we will stay rigid, there won’t be any progress. And I bet you want to make the difference and push mankind few steps forward. It is painful to do that, it takes time and hard work. You must be dedicated and fight with yourself to overcome your laziness. The prize for that, however, could be amazing. The feeling of accomplishment cannot be replaced. What is done cannot be undone. With every step you take, you are one step closer to the ultimate goal. Make something that lasts.

So just keep swimming so you can end up as…

Cheers

Ondrej

LEGO 21050 Book review

Create your own architecture. The motto of the book, which is an inseparable part of the LEGO Architecture Studio. What is the purpose of the book? Does it contain useful information? Should architecture students read it? In this review, I will try to answer these question.


But first, some facts. The book consists of 272 pages and includes 6 main chapters, each with a perspective of one architecture company. Each chapter starts with a brief history of the company and some of their projects, which are explored from different views. This gives us unique insight into what is architecture. Each company focuses on different aspects. Some prefer a pragmatic approach to programming and try to find the most efficient way, how the building can work. Some try to harness quality of light. Others focus on feeling from voids and masses. And there are much more to consider. And architecture is all of that. So as many architects are out there, that many opinions of what architecture is. And that is one of the things I got from this book. All must be considered but no all can be focused on at the same time.

After an introduction, each company shares things, that are important in their design. It is basically a small lecture from the architectural leaders from all around the globe. There are no long paragraphs of text, lectures are distilled to its bare essentials. One could say it is the whole architecture school stripped down to bones.


The penultimate part of each chapter is the exploration. There is an exercise with bricks, connected to the world of architecture. During these explorations, we can learn about scale, space and section, modules and repetition, a design toolssurface, mass and density and symmetry.


At the end of each chapter, exploration exercise is given to the design team of each architecture company. This consist of pictures, how different people, given the same exercise, reacted and what did they build. There are also quotes and other reflections about bricks, and how they cdesign tools.


And at the very end of the book, there is a short guide of few brick building techniques. However, there is very few of them and every curious mind can think of much more possibilities of what can be done with that collection of brick, tiles, plates and other pieces.

I would say one of the purposes of this book is definitely to encourage exploring through the bricks. When one sees how architects played with bricks and what they made, the immediate reaction is: oh, I can do that as well. When adults face a creative problem, the often feel fear. What if what I create is not good enough? Small children, however, do not fear, they just create. And we all need to learn how to be kids again. Kids do not see constraints as adults do.

As I already said, the book covers only the essentials, which is both good and bad. It can give you a creative headstart. Then, you are on your own. You are responsible for your creations. Be bold. And if you want to know more, there is huge number of other books which can share more views on a topic of architecture.

I would recommend this set and book for everyone interested in architecture, everyone who likes to make things with their own hands and explore. You are not guaranteed to be next F. L. Wright after reading this, but it is a good start.

Happy reading

Ondrej

 

LEGO 21050 Architecture Studio review

At first, I wanted to do a proper, objective and non-biased review. I can’t. I am so excited about this set! So many possibilities! And because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, I will do the review my way.

I spent past few days with architecture studio. And whenever I had a spare hour or two I sat at my table and played with it. I spent a long time sorting everything, and the re-sorting it again and again. No idea why I did it. But that’s how I work, everything needs to have its place. By the way, I am still not satisfied with my sorting system, and the two plastic sorting trays and three cardboard trays are definitely not enough. I had to search through my things, to find as many boxes of different sizes as I could. And I have bricks sorted only to groups (plates/tiles/bricks/slopes etc.).

On the other hand, that is probably the only downside I could find during this review period. I started with reading the book and occasionally stopped to try something that came to my mind or just tried to build examples from the book.

Below you can see the building from the cover of the box. That was one of the first things I made. Just a quick build which outlined one of the possibilities. Massing study. To me, this building looks like a modern villa, sharp and expressive. One can imagine what spaces it contains, who is it for or where should it be located.

Second build included in the book. This exercise encouraged taking inspiration from around you and try to replicate it in a form of a building. Lego team took a bird as an inspiration. And one can really see the birdy nature of this structure. For me, this looks like a restaurant somewhere with beautiful views all around, hence the platforms for enjoying views.

Then, one of the exercises in the book was about the scale. What can one brick represent to us? That is only in the eye of a beholder. One brick can be whole city block, one building or a small detail of a door knob if you have enough bricks. And for this task, I have built one street. At first, one building was made from just two bricks. And there were very little details.

And then I doubled the size. At that scale, one can see more details and the building on the left got two different offsets of the facade. The buildings look very similar as they should. However, one brick now represents half the information contained in the first model.

So I decided to zoom on the building with the grilled facade and made it fifty per cent bigger. At this scale, one can see details of the street, the gaps between grills and penthouse glass facade on the top.

And if I wanted and had enough bricks, I could have made just an apartment or focus on the penthouse on top. We are the masters of the scale here.

One of the possibilities how to represent a building is a section. This can also be done with bricks. Maybe architecture is not about what there is, but what there is not. We occupy the void in space, so voids might be more important than elements surrounding you.

And when I was away, my girlfriend made this playful herd of sheep. She used to build these when she was a little kid. You need five bricks for a sheep. Fair.

And how about to explore the modular design with bricks? The brick itself is an example of module. What if we replicate them several times? Stack them on top of each other? Next to? Module can help with both the design and execution. I made a tower out of nine same modules and then I modified them.

Still same core module. Each of them slightly changed. Structural parts remain, details have changed. Variety in uniformity.

And what about texture? Smooth, rough, bumpy, swirling, soft, sharp. Bricks can do a lot.

Experiment with different textures.

But the question everybody wants an answer to. Can it really be used as a design tool or is it just an overpriced toy? One of my favourite quotes can give us an answer. Every tool is just as clever as is its user. Bricks are not omnipotent, but with the right mindset, they are just as useful as sketching by hand or massing in any 3D software. It can be used as an initial study model just efficiently as foamcore, exploring programming, visualization of ideas or outlet to kickstart your brain into creative mode. I have a sketchbook for ideas, whatever clever pierces my skull, I catch it. And during this playful time with studio, I reached for my sketchbook many times. The ideas were only tangentialy connected to bricks, they were more of a general ideas that might be explored and they were not ntertwined with my models. However, it shows that my brain got into creative mode, and that is damn hard thing to do. Being creative is pretty hard job. New and useful ideas are scarce. Studio can help.

Therefore, architecture enthusiasts, and even architecture companies should get a box. One never knows when it can come handy. It is not for every project and it is up to you to know when to use it and for what. And if you keep an open mind, you might get an interesting answer to your questions from a box of bricks.

Happy designing

Ondrej

LEGO 21050 Architecture Studio – First impression

This week on Life of a Constructing Architect will be focused on Architecture Studio. The set number 21050 has been waiting for me patiently for a month. And now, with the exams behind me, I could finally open it. Architecture studio is not a standard set. The sets are called sets, because it is a collection of specific bricks, which can form what the designers intended. The one official build. You are certainly encouraged to experiment, try your own creations and modify. However this set has no official form. It is like one of those creative boxes for young kids, only this one is for kids who pay bills and taxes.

The first thing that pops out when you open the package is the book. That is another thing that makes this set unique. Some of sets, especially from the architecture line, contain a short booklet about the building, before the building instructions. But here, you are getting full 270 pages long book about architecture. And this book cannot be bought separetely. Edited by Christopher Turner in collaboration with many famous architectural practices from around the world. MVRDV, SOM, REX, Safdie architects, Sou Fujimoto, Tham & Videgaard, MAD and KRADS architects, all of these left a mark in this book. However I will probably make a separete review just for the book itself. So let’s focus on bricks.

You are greeted by 15 bags, which are filled with 1210 bricks. At first it did not look like a big number. And then I started to sort the bricks. When you take each type of brick to your hand, count it and sort it, it suddenly feels like huge number.

I spent around two hours just sorting the bricks. I wanted to know what do I have at my disposal. It was so tranquil just take each brick to hand and relocate it to the box. There are many different kinds and all in them are white. It is important to focus only on the shapes, volumes and textures and not the colors.

And at the end of the day. Every brick was counted and sorted. Now I know what can I use and I can start reading the book and building. And after I will spend some time with it. I will write a proper review both for the book and the set itself.

And here is the whole studio sorted. The only color in the sea of white and transparent is the bright orange brick separator.

Cheers

Ondrej

The morning after exam

The moment we have been waiting for finally passed. The exams started and our group was lucky that we were on the first day, so our suffering was not so long.

I think I have never been more nervous than on this exam day. I have been through many presentations and even a speech or two. And yes, I was nervous, to some extent. It is good to be nervous. It makes you focused. That’s how our bodies work. But this time, it was much more intense. And I think it is because here, we were presenting five months of our life. Five months of hard work and dedication. We spent many hours on our project. And we do not want to ruin it. However, the hard work shows itself. And in my opinion, both exam days went pretty well for our class. 


Our group presentation was scheduled for 50 minutes. The teachers came from lunch little later. And we started the stopwatch. The presentation was flowing quite well, however we were rushing a little. So in the end there were still some time we had to fill. So when I was finishing with our sections, I remembered those who were redlining our sections, those who helped us to spot things that were missing and I told this story to the comitee. I do not remember my exact words because I was just overwhelmed with panic. But I remember hearing myself saying ‘We can say that these sections are not only ours, but also sections of the whole class’. And luckily, teachers stick to the original schedule, so they did not notice our presentation was tiny bit shorter. 

And then, each of us had 15 minutes of personal part of the exam. Again, I was overwhelmed with nervosity, and I could not fill whole 15 minutes with explaining, so the teachers started to ask questions at the end. 

And then, I must say the results surprised me. I would give myself a lower grade, however I am always dissatisfied a bit. It could have been better. It always can. But we did our best.

I spent the second day also at school, so I could congratulate my classmates who were on the second day. 

It was pleasing to see how everybody was relieved when they have finished. I am glad our class did so well and I am proud of us.

Third semester, here we come.

(Oh, and good luck to people from AH22) 

Cheers

Ondrej