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

Spend time to save time

Investment. Many people imagine buying properties, stocks or gold. But there is one commodity, which has much higher value. A commodity that is extremely hard to buy. A commodity that is usually insanely expensive. Everyone has more or less the same amount at birth, and we are spending it every second. Time. Do you wonder why rich people take a helicopter from the airport to city centre? Does it seem like an unnecessary luxury to you? They know they can make more money, the time is, however, merciless. Both rich and poor are spending it at the same rate. And that is why rich people try to save as much of time as possible. Nobody can get the time back.

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However, there is a way to save time. And we are getting back to the first sentence. Investment. What if I tell you there is a way to save time? It is not a secret. But it takes some time now, to save some time in the future. I will give you an example. I spent last few days making templates. Many different types. This semester we calculated required sizes of beams and columns. It takes between 15 to 30 minutes to calculate one. And I spent one afternoon (3 hours), making an excel spreadsheet, which reduces this time to around 2 minutes. By a simple calculation we can assume that after calculating twelve beams, I have my investment back. I invested 3 hours in saving many minutes next semester. This also allows me to try different sizes of beams in a quick succession and that can result in more efficient design.

Yesterday, I spent the evening making my own custom Revit template. I looked back to this semester project Revit file. Looked for things I spend a long time adding and arranging. Line styles, hatching patters, reinforcement bars. And I added those to my template. Changed few things that help with readability of drawings. And I am planning to further upgrade it when it will be necessary.

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This rule can apply to many things which follow the same algorithm every time. Next time I could improve my U-value excel calculator, heat loss calculator or anything else that I might use in the future. Also, our structural design teacher made many useful templates for calculating self-weight, wind loads and snow loads. So we do not have to calculate it by hand. There is also many useful software which can help you every day. For me, this software is Beamax for beams, Finnwood for light floor partitions. Calculating many things by hand would be impossible. However, someone has spent many hours creating a computer software. And their hours are saving you many hours.Výstřižek

In general, the rule is simple. Always think ahead. Whenever you do something, try to do it that way, so you do not have to ever do it again. At least not for the same time. Automatization is the key. Spend time to save time.

Cheers

Ondrej

 

 

 

(Not so glamorous) day in a life of ATCM student

If you ever wondered (probably not but I am going to tell you anyway) how does a day in life of a constructing architecture student looks like, look no further. One ordinary Thursday, few weeks before exam, I have noted every activity I went through during the day and took some photos. So now you can get an overwiev, what do I do during normal school days.

6:25 Wake up

Since it is June, the sun in Denmark rises around 4:45 in the morning. Therefore when my alarm rings, I am already fully awake and ready to start my day.

6:32 Have a breakfast

The very first thing I do is to have a breakfast, as I have written in breakfast deconstructed…..
6:53 Leave Life of a constructing architect HQ……link

7:03 Take a bus number 5 to Vejle Trafikcenter

The sun is shining and I am ready to start my journey to school. The ride to the Trafikcenter takes around 10 minutes.


7:29 Take train to Horsens

The trains are very comfortable and only rarely late. It takes 15 minutes to get to Horsens

7:50 Take bus number 1 or 2 to VIA university

The last leg of my voyage is another 15 minutes ride with bus. During the traveling both to and from school I either read, brainstorm ideas for this blog or look for eye candies and interesting articles on instagram/twitter.

8:08 Arrival to school

8:20 Global days with danish students

First two lessons today were dedicated to cooperation with students, who study the same programme as we do, but in Danish. We showed each other one of our details and gave some useful comments to them. We also translated our details. So now I have my favourite eave detail in Danish.


9:42 Calculation of a column

I got to our classroom and started finishing static journal. I improved my Excel spreadsheet with calculation and I added it to our static journal.


10:07 Finishing of our static journal

I did some final touches on our static journal. Formatting and hyperlinks to different chapters.

10:27 Calculation of energy frame

I got interupted by building services teacher. He explained more about software used for calculation of the energy frame. However, this semester we only need to calculate design transmission loss and we have done that already.

12:07 Lunch

I ate lunch I prepared for myself the day before and I talked little bit with people around.


12:41 Finishing static journal again

I got the last piece I was missing from my groupmate and I finally can say that structural design for this semester is done.

12:57 Discussion about price of graphite polystyrene with Kristyna

Comparing the prices of standard and graphite polystyrene and few quick calculations.

13:21 Site plan

I finally got to finish the site plan I started yesterday. I added some details, legend and levels. I showed it to our teacher and then added some more things. 

16:00 Leaving school

At 4 o’clock sharp I left the school to get back to Vejle to work.

16:15 Taking bus number 1 or 2 to Horsens Trafikterminal.

As usual, the bus was quite late.


16:41 Train to Vejle

The train arrived on time, but it was full, so I had to sit on the stairs. I summed up last few hours for the blogpost you are reading now.

16:56 Arrival to Vejle Trafikcenter

I arrived to Vejle and did a quick grocery shopping, since I will not have much time tommorow.

17:15 Arrival to work

My shift begins. I help in the kitchen of Vejle Sushi Hus. We were pretty busy today, so I am quite exhausted. On the other hand, I find it relaxing not to have to think about anything and just quickly manually work. And I love sushi, which is also healthy.

20:33 Bus number 5 home

I usualy end at 8 o’clock, sometimes later, when it is needed.

20:47 Arrival home

21:07 Editing this article for publishing (boooooring)

21:49 Shower

21:55 Sunset in Denmark

22:04 Go to bed

Dreaming…maybe I can design something tommorow…

 

Cheers

Ondrej

 

Mistakes as a learning tool

I remember that at the beginning of the first semester our communication teacher asked us about being a student. Particularly who do we think is a good student, what traits should they have. I answered that student should not be afraid of making mistakes, because in the end, sometimes only by getting it wrong four times, they can get it right on the fifth time. She nodded and asked me if I am afraid of making mistakes. I said no. 

I lied. 

I hate making mistakes. At least showing my mistakes. I do not want to show any weakness. I brought this trait from my home country. The education system in the Czech republic is based on right or wrong. There is no middle ground. I always learned the facts, algorhytms and definitions and then got most of them right.

In life, however, many times there is no right or wrong. It is more like ‘good, adequate, better, not so good, could be better, optimal or perfect’ and everything in between.

And suddenly here in Denmark, we are nearly forced to make mistakes. Nobody tells us how things should look like. We must figure everything on our own. I still hate making mistakes, but I am getting used to them. I enjoy the procces of making. I value high every colleague of mine with whom I can disscuss our design solutions. If they are at least adequate, if they could be improved. People ask me about advice every day and I ask them. I look carefully around me and make notes in my head who knows what and when the time comes and I need an advice I know who to look for. 

And this whole process is there for us, so we learn things now, and not make them when they will actually cost real money. Now in our project, the only money we can make and our clients can spend are monopoly money. And for this money we are working hard every day. But we are getting one priceless thing with that as well. Wisdom.

And if it is true that you are more clever for every mistake you make, we will be so clever at the end of our studies.

Cheers 

Ondrej

Amazing day in LEGOland 

The weather was amazing last week, so my girlfriend and I decided spontaneously to visit the birthplace of LEGO. The birthplace of LEGO is a town of Billund in the middle of Denmark, and that is about 30km from the town we live in. 

When we arrived, we were amazed. So much LEGO bricks everywhere, so much sun and at the entrance, song ‘Everything is awesome’ from The LEGO movie was playing. We were overwhelmed by the beauty. Everything was so bright and amazing. Great place to be even for twenty years old kids as us.

We started our tour at the true heart of the LEGOland. The heart of every LEGOland is the Miniland, park with LEGO models of various sizes. In Billund we have seen Billund airport.

Famous Copenhagen street, Nyhavn.

Port of Copenhagen.

Dioramas from Star Wars.

And much more. There was a Kennedy space center, skyscrapers, few different towns of Scandinavian region and many landmarks from Denmark and various parts of the world. 

Every detail on these models is very carefully executed. The longer you look at the miniature world, the more details you see. It must have taken hours and hours of work, not just the building of these models, but also the maintenance of all of them. There are even miniature bonsai trees and because I tried to plant and keep few bonsai trees alive (unsuccesfully) I know how hard it is. There are even miniature hedges beside tiny parks and promenades and everything is alive. There is also usually some kind of piece count, so you can read how many bricks were used to build each model.

However, that is only a small part of the LEGOland. The whole park consist of different zones which correspond to different themes LEGO released. Some of them are already retired, some of them are still on sale.

One of the zones is for example LEGO Ninjago zone.

Here you can try a ride which uses 3D glasses and motion sensor. When you ride around the complex, there are monsters attacking you and you have to do ninja moves to lunch projectiles to defeat them. 

Or you can try to avoid deadly lasers at Lloyds laser labyrint. The funny part is that some people behind you at the queue actually see when you go to the laser hall and they may judge you. So as a true ninja I was jumping and rolling on the floor and even though I was hit I bet I left an impression with my silly ninja wannabe style. 

The absolute highlight of the visits were the most adult rollercoasters. The Arctic X-plorer and X-treme racers. Both are thrilling and the first time on both of them was quite scary. When we ended the first ride though, we knew we needed to go again. So in the end we went on Arctic X-plorer at least five times. Another great part is the Ice pilots school. The concept is brilliant, you get a card and you scan it at the computer and there you can choose what you want to experience on a giant robotic arm which can spin you around and upside down, sideways or rotate. Your choice and you are responsible for it. I started at level 3 out of five and then went back once again for level 4. And maybe next time I will dare to try some trick from level 5.

Luckilly, the season is just beginning so there were not so many people and we never waited more then 5-10 minutes. In the season I can imagine the park filled with people and the waiting times could probably be much worse.

And at the end of the day, we knew that we would still need at least one more day to fully enjoy everything the park can offer. We haven’t been to all rides and we could ride the X-plorer many times until we would get bored by it. And there were many things we missed, 4D cinema, The Dragen, Safari, Sea life. I could even spend a whole day just looking at all the tiny detail at the Miniland. There is simply so many amazing things to do and see.

Because of all this I really recomand to visit LEGOland if you are either; LEGO fan, kid up to 99 years old. You are guaranteed to experience a lot of fun and you will feel much younger than you really are. Plus the atmosphere is jolly. Everybody aroud you is having fun as well and the collective spirit is great. The employees are supernice and funny and they seem to enjoy the work, even though it must be hard. They are bringing joy to so many people. The LEGOland is a special place and everybody should feel it once in their life.

Cheers

Ondrej

Symptoms of being an architect

As a student of architectural technology, I developed a number of peculiar habits. And I think and hope I am not alone. Being an architect means to notice certain things. Professional deformation. And I am at it for just an eight months now.  What will happen in a year or two? And because of that observation, I made a list of symptoms, you may observe on yourself, if you study architecture/constructing architecture or if you are already an architect.

IMG_0311

If you came home after a long workday spent by drafting and calculating cost of construction only to watch youtube video of how to execute a perfect level 5 drywall finish to unwind.

You are probably an architect:

 

If you stop on your way to work to take a photo of interesting brickwork bond pattern.

You are probably an architect

 

If the first thing you notice in a restaurant is an arrangement of the tables and workflow of the waitress.

You are probably an architect

 

If you read through catalogue of homes to point out the atrocities they are making.

You are probably an architect

 

If you spend terrible amount of time at work/school and still love what you do.

You are probably an architect

 

If you plan your trips around interesting buildings.

You are probably an architect

 

If you think that few construction mistakes always happen and it is not hard to just hide them.

You are probably a contractor

 

If you hate when your friend asks what do you think about their house.

You are probably an architect

 

If your books consist of 70% of pictures.

You are probably an architect

 

If you plan your day in 30 minutes intervals.

You are probably a construction manager

 

If you buy LEGO for yourself, or if you have children just as an excuse to buy LEGO.

You are probably an architect

 

If you have a nailgun in your van.

You are probably a carpenter

 

If you did not get a proper amount of sleep for at least three days.

You are probably an architect

 

If your closet is mainly monochromatic.

You are probably an architect

 

If you have more than two calculators in your drawer.

You are probably an engineer

 

If you have your personal favourite type of pen.

You are probably an architect

 

If you have a nice car, lots of money in your bank account and 6 weeks of holiday per year.

You are probably a developer

 

If you dream of designing a high-rise.

You are probably an architect

 

If your family is getting tired of listening to your observations about traffic, circulation, and accessibility of buildings you get into.

You are probably an architect

 

If you know the difference between a party and a parti.

You are probably an architect

 

If you want to design your own house.

You are probably an architect

 

If your smallest unit of measurement is centimeter and even 10 centimeters off is still ‘okay’.

You are probably a subcontractor

 

If you think hand drafting is the best way of drafting and complain about our reliance on computers.

You are probably an old architect

 

If the software on your computer is worth more than used car.

You are probably an architect

 

Have you identified yourself with some of these statements? Can you think of more examples of professional deformation? Leave me a comment, I would like to hear about them.

Cheers

Ondrej