Posts Tagged ‘Architect’

Close up of a graduation cap and a certificate with a ribbon

I am proud to announce that I will be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts: Second Class Honours RIBA Architecture Part 1, after three years of hard work. All those scalpel knife finger cuts, glue-gun burns, sleepless nights, nervousness before Crits, hours of rendering and so much more have all been worth it!

I will be graduating on the 16th July, and I am very excited to don the Graduation Gown. This achievement marks a milestone in my academic education, and it would not have been possible without my family and friends, so I would like to thank all those that have supported me throughout the three years.

It has taken a couple of days for it to finally sink in, and I will end with what my sister said to me when she heard the news: ” The Tassel was worth the Hassle!” I hope this is also true for the rest of the Architecture Graduates worldwide. Congratulations to the Class of 2013!

Now the only dilemma is….What to wear for Graduation???


Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

Freedom. At Long Last. Three years have gone by, and studies for Part 1 of becoming an Architect have been completed. Today was the final portfolio submission, but more alarmingly, today marks the end of a continuous 18 years in academic education. *gulp*

I suppose my first instinct would be to say oh how quickly the past three years have run by me and so forth. I suppose in a way it has, but in more ways it has in fact been a long and gruelling three year process whereby any and all of my ideas have been challenged and scrutinised. At the end of the day that’s what Architecture is, isn’t it? Ideas and Opinions. If you happen to win over the majority in believing into your idea and opinion, then you have made great and successful architecture. If you haven’t, tough luck. Start again!

During the three years, I found myself envious of my friends studying academic subjects that stem from Science and Mathematics, because in those fields the answer is either right or wrong. It is not dependent on anything. The answer to the question must not take into account the surrounding its in, its historic origins, how well it goes with the initial concept, whether the function and form work well together or even what the tutors personal opinions may be. It is either right or wrong, and the mark schemes adhere to this.

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

When I first joined my school of Architecture, I did think I would be taught a lot more about rules and regulations, including formulas about structures. However, I was left waiting. Instead, I was pushed into the depths of conceptual thinking and turning literature into building-like forms. Or as my “Sciency” friends would put it, I was “making models out of toothpicks”. How was I to describe to them that those toothpicks symbolised Entrapment and other such ideas that would later inform my building proposal? Others thought that my course was simply about “doodling”, and I suppose if you were to boil it down, that really IS our job as Architecture students. We doodle out ideas and hope to God that they can be brought to life.

It all sounds quite critical, but this “doodling” and “toothpick model making” were the stepping stones that helped us reach where we are today. Yes, I admit we were not pressurised into thinking if the building will in fact stand from the very start, but we were gradually given the tools we needed over the three years, and I feel I now have sufficient knowledge to be able to work with an engineer to be able to carry out a successful job. And in any case, our main aim as Architect is to DESIGN.

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

In the three years, I think more than any lectures or tests, it is the Critical Review Presentations , also knows as “Crits”, that have taught us the most. I believe that it is very much a Love-Hate relationship between an architect student and their Crits. Love, because it is a platform whereby we learn to stand up for ourselves and our ideas. It is here that we gain expertise, or sometimes fail miserably, in convincing the audience that one’s proposal is the best there is. It gives the confidence we need to be able to carry out this task in our future careers, because people’s opinion is an every day thing we must all face. It is the stage where we can show off our ideas of not just buildings but our views on society.

However, the Hate part of the relationship comes in due to what I have already mentioned, that our answer is neither right nor wrong. The outcome of the Crit could perhaps largely depend on the ideologies of the tutors and audience, and whether they agree with your mentality or not. This is why we often hear that our tutors have been battling it out in the staff room due to a difference in opinion. It is not simply that the student drew Item A and therefore, marks should be given for the inclusion of Item A. This is a rather frustrating concept for a student in more ways than I can possibly articulate.

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjania

Final Year 3 Presentation Board~ Zeyna Sanjaniaopini

Conclusively, I would say the last three years have not been without its trials and tribulations. Personally, I believe Architecture School has made me into a stronger individual and improved vastly my skills whereby I can sell an idea. It is a place that has allowed me to experiment and voice my opinions in front of a crowd of critics.  It has taught me to defend my ideas, but also realise and improve upon my mistakes. However, now that this stage is complete and I have done all that I can in my power, all I can hope for is that the ones who will be marking my portfolio will share the same ideologies as me, or at least be open minded towards them. Now the wait for Results Day and Graduation commences.

In the meantime, I find myself lost. Though I started this blog post with the words FREEDOM, what I have been doing for the past three years is all that I know how to do. Without it, I am incomplete, and this freedom is empty, because actually….I miss “doodling and toothpick model making” already.

P.S. My apologies for the low quality photographs of my presentation board…They were taken in a hurry on my mobile phone, whilst in a state of overwhelming excitement. Examples of my work will be uploaded soon onto my Facebook page.

Introducing the 3Doodler: A pen that prints and creates 3-D objects! The perfect birthday gift for an Architect Student *HINT HINT* !

Watching the promotional video for the 3Doodler, it truly can be heralded as a stroke of genius. It has been described by critics as “just a glue-gun” who I don’t think appreciate the true extent of what this new innovation means. Being an architect student, I can just imagine the amount of time and effort that can be saved by using the 3Doodler. This pen should not replace the traditional model making exercises, but can most definitely assist in exploring ideas at a quick pace during the design process.

It can also help architects during meetings with clients, when instead of doodling their ideas on a napkin, they can now create a concept to hold and understand in 3-dimension. This makes it a zillion times easier for the client, who may not always be as creative minded as the architect, to understand exactly what the architect wishes to articulate.

A bonus is that although it is not as cheap as your average Biro pen, the 3Doodler is still rather affordable compared to the extortionate pricing that dominates the world of Architecture, and also in terms of value for money. It is currently priced at $75, which is roughly £50, a rather small price to pay for a world of explorations.

Having talked about the 3Doodler in context to architects, the product is also of course applicable to a very wide range of audience who enjoy thinking in 3D, including designers and artists of all sorts and practices.  Seeing as I have become very handy with the glue gun for the past few months, I would love to be able to have a go at the 3Doodler, and hope I will be lucky enough to own one.

3Doodler is what we have all been secretly waiting for!

Here is the website, if you want to find out more:

A beautiful video from Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Spirit of Space.

The “Sliced Porosity Block” has been captured in great detail, and looks ever so elegant.

I thought I would write a quick post regarding my dissertation. Since, I am in the final year of BA Architecture Part 1, writing a 8,000-10,000 words architectural discourse is a compulsory part of the History and Theory module. Thankfully, I enjoy writing very much, as can be seen from this blog itself! Therefore, writing a dissertation is not too much of a task. The hard part of course is how to correctly articulate your thoughts on a certain subject, that you first need to decide on!

The journey of my dissertation began last summer, just as I was on the brink of starting third year. I was quite certain that the broader topic that I wanted to focus on was sky scrapers, since I seem to be rather obsessed with them! And so began the trips to and fro the library with books that mounted up to weigh more than myself. At that point, it was more about gaining background knowledge, rather than deciding what my dissertation will be.

As the academic year began, I received much needed aid and direction from the tutors which resulted in a rough outline of my dissertation. I initially wanted to explore the idea of the Skyscraper Index, a theory which states that the height of the world’s tallest building relates to the economic downturn, in that the higher the tower, the greater the recession. An intriguing concept, however one that my tutors felt was perhaps too journalistic, and too broad for it to be explored in the limited word allocation for the dissertation. Perhaps I will indulge in this topic at a later date, when I am not constrained by word limits!

After much research and flicking through plenty of heavy books, I settled on writing about iconic architecture, in relation to Burj Khalifa (Currently the world’s tallest tower) in specific. At this point, I must offer a little but significant piece of advice about how important it is to be decisive in terms of choosing a topic to discuss. The longer amount of time you spend fretting about what topic to write about, the more precious time you are loosing on researching your topic and gaining a better understanding of it.

So finally, I had a topic for my dissertation, and I was ready to start. I had my notes from books and research material, waiting to be included in the dissertation. Yet, I found myself staring at the computer screen! The hardest part of the dissertation is indeed how to start it! After what seemed like an age of staring into blank space and munching on sugary food, hoping for a brain rush, my brain decided to switch itself on, and I delved deep into writing out my dissertation…and once I started, there was no stopping me.

After about four months, I am currently at an approximate of 7,000 words, and so far, so good! As strange as this may sound, I find myself almost looking forward to writing out my dissertation. This is because I feel I have more control over it, where as in my design modules, it is more about experimentation and thinking up of concepts that have are neither right nor wrong. When writing a dissertation, I am simply stating what other authors have to say about a certain topic and then comparing each of those views to determine shared and opposing opinions. Of course, I enjoy the creative side of the design module; it is what I do and what I am. However, I feel writing a dissertation is a good change of work flow and one that is more straight forward in many ways.

…And so, the quest for writing the perfect dissertation goes on. I long for the day I will bind my thick architectural discourse, and be proud of my first professional piece of writing. However, it will be with some sadness that I will type the last few words that will put an end to a task that has given me more joy than it probably should!

I will of course be uploading my dissertation once it has been graded, to ensure no complications in plagiarism, copy rights or any other such issues. Until then, watch this space!

How well versed are you with the Architect Alphabet?

Credit to Frederico Gonzalez of Ombú Architecture

When a building is decided to be built, it is normal for us to hear about it from the news papers and architect journals. We mainly hear from the architect after the building has been built, and perhaps in his books. We do not always know what the winning scheme was up against and how the other architects performed.

However the project at 425 Park Avenue, New York has changed all that. The presentations given by each of the shortlisted Architects: Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, OMA and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, have appeared on Youtube. This is a great insight into how the architects pitch their work to clients.

Each architect has a unique style of presenting his/her work to the clients, and this very much reminds me of my Crit sessions at University. It was hard to believe at first that Architects of such high recognition have to undergo the same procedure that students all over the country go through at the end of their own design projects.

Below you can see the four videos of the architects presenting their work.

After watching each presentation, I dismissed the proposal by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners instantly. It was not to the point, and seemed to digress on to other aspects of New York. The final proposal was also not one that I preferred, as it looked far too much like Richard Roger’s Pompidou Centre.

Zaha Hadid Architect’s proposal was striking, but perhaps TOO striking for this day and age. I must admit the graphics would submit any client into handing over their money due to their exceptional realism. However, maybe the ideas that Zaha Hadid Architects propose are still too futuristic. Though the clients were looking for an iconic building, this proposal somehow over does it.

The battle in my mind was then between Foster + Partners and OMA, and I still can not make up my mind over which is better. Both presentations were articulate and the proposals were very intelligently designed. At first glance, I disliked the proposal by Foster + Partners, but as the presentation continued, I was drawn into the idea because Norman Foster gave insights into certain aspects such as lighting the floor level and making the public domain more significant.

Rem Koolhaas was also very convincing, in the sense that he wanted to design a proposal that was something between being iconic and generic. The skyscraper should stand out from the skyline, but in a more subtle way, not as arrogant as perhaps Zaha Hadid Architect’s proposal would have.

The winning proposal that the clients have chosen is the one presented by Foster + Partners. However, the process of choosing is one that is of greater interest. Once a building is made, the public find it very easy to dismiss, critique, and even blame the architect, but one has to remember that it is the Client that chose the Architect. The power lies in the hands of the Clients, and the decision is solely theirs to be taken. The Architect can only present one’s ideas, and bare his/her soul in front of the Client, presenting their design ideas to be judged by others.

Architects will always be put up for judgement, whether it be by someone who appreciates and understands the skill of Architecture, or someone who has other interests such as Profits. Either way, this process of critique is one that we must master from the beginning; starting from university, as it is something that will have to undergo for the rest of our career life.

Which reminds me, I must now prepare for my Crit on Monday…..


Foster + Partners


Zaha Hadid Architects




Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners