From the Eyes of an Architecture Student: Studio Workspace Experience

Hi Everyone!

I’m back again to discuss this week’s topic: Studio Workplace Experience.
You’re probably going back to the title, re-reading it, and scratching your head in confusion, like what the heck is she talking about?!
Well, to clarify, this week I will be sharing with you my experience and observance of how my classmates and I work on projects (and sometimes a plethora of other assignments and activities)in our work spaces within studio or our other favorite lounges or nooks within the Art and Architecture Building.
So, in case I have not mentioned in my previous posts, our studio space is located on the third floor of the architecture side of the building, and extends across the common space of the new wing, into the new, secluded studios. “Studio space” simply refers to the literal rows of desks that we do all of our project crafting in. Often, whenever you walk by, it’s quite easy to tell when a review (presentation) is coming up, because that is when most (or all) our desks are junked up with piles and piles of papers of various sizes (there’s blueprint sized papers, and then there’s nicer expensive print-outs on poster-sized papers, and then there’s just ordinary print papers too), piles of models and sometimes even residue of the craft (scraps of material, crumbs, knives, trash bags, you name it).
Personally, I really love my studio desk. Why? Well, it’s my personal space. I store whatever I want there conveniently, I decorate it however I wish, there’s plenty of USB and electrical outlet plugs right at my desk, and I’m a bit of a clean freak so it’s often impossible for me to efficiently work elsewhere because I’d spend too much time pickily searching for the “perfect desk” where it’s non-shaky, it’s clean, and spacious, with easy access to electrical outlets. Also, it’s considered my property (at least for the time being until I switch to a new desk next semester) so even if there is someone borrowing my desk, I can kick them out back to their own desk or some other space. Elsewhere, I own no property, and it’s often packed with people, so I waste my time looking for the space, and it does not even guarantee that I will get a spot.
And I even have a key to the drawers that I store my materials in. Oftentimes people leave them unlocked because of the natural “sharing culture” we have within studio, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that because:
 1) you’ve already paid $20 deposit for your drawer key. Might as well use it, right?
2) materials are expensive!! Often, I developed favorites amongst my supplies, and if it’s missing it literally feels like someone stole my child. Not to mention, sometimes things are hard to obtain another duplicate of because it’s very commonplace that the company of that object no longer produces that exact version OR they produced other versions that you aren’t fond of due to unfamiliarity or pricing.
AND
3) Our media center (where we buy food and materials) is not always open, so if someone sees material on your desk, it’s pretty much fair game to them, and it’s often awkward and difficult to hunt down your thief due to the sharing culture of studio, along with the fact that people will take free materials whenever possible!
Anyway, all of those above reasons are likely reasons why nearly most of the people who attend our college are usually around all the time, even if we don’t have something assigned for studio. Sometimes people just hang here out of convenience. Legit, people will have meals together at their desks, and sometimes have hours’ worth of The Office watch party (using their monitors or one of the moveable campus monitors) for leisure. Or, I’ve often found myself doing non-studio work at my desk as well because of the sort of factory-like, productive nature of our studio space, along with the fact that people are constantly moving in this space, and they can and will see whatever I do and they may or may not judge my actions. I often find difficulties focusing sometimes, so this productive environment really helps keep me motivated and productive! Many of my friends feel the same way, so they do the same.
As for workplace habits, I’d say I see most people having headphones in, either listening to music or podcasts or Netflix white-noise, or even talking on the phone/video-calling. I’m one of those people who really enjoy working alongside music, and feel less motivated without the audio stimulation, especially for model-making. Other classmates I’ve seen, and definitely been sort of admirable but also confused about how they can still craft meticulously alongside watching a show. Like, come on, are you not worried you’ll slice your finger, when you’re holding one side of the material down as you slice, but your eyes aren’t the material you’re cutting?! Trust me, I’ve seen countless accidents occur simply from fatigue at 2am where the knife slips and you slice off a part of your hand- which isn’t very fun! Or, other people who are able to craft while eating a  multiple-pieced snack, like wow, are you not worried your fingerprints are gonna make an appearance on that perfect model? Or, you feel indifferent about having a sticky project? Or even a project that smells like vinegar? Anyway, who am I to judge? I just find some of my peers’ habits interesting, and accept that we are all different in our habits and values.
Well, that is all for today!
I’d love to hear your views on my insights!
As usual, if you’re interested in seeing more of my photography and studio work, give me a follow on Instagram: @themichiganarchitect !
Ciao for now 🙂

themichiganarchitect

Fourth Year//UG University of Michigan Taubman School of Architecture+Urban Planning Follow me and my work via Instagram :) @themichiganarchitect

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