Foray into architectural critique at UTS

By Alanna King

One unique and memorable aspect of architecture school is the guest critique. Students spend weeks preparing for these presentations, building scale models, putting together concept diagrams, plans, sections, elevations and perspectives. The purpose of all this is for students to communicate the brief, the idea, and their resolution into architectural form, to a panel of guests from the profession. These guests in turn provide feedback on the design and the presentation. Surprising aspects of this, for those becoming accustomed to the process, are how much the order in which ideas are presented matters, and what an impact confident delivery makes! I was invited on to one such guest panel at UTS for the first time this semester.

There were some fantastic models of different scales and materials. For example, part of the project brief involved incorporating a workshop, like the model making workshops available to the architecture students at UTS. One student was able to communicate, through a model with working electric lighting, the idea of placing this workshop under a glass pool of water. During the day, the workshops would gain natural light through the pool above, but be almost invisible below the water. At night, the pool would glow with the activity of students at work. The model was very evocative, and a powerful communication of the sleepless nights architecture students endure!

Another great skill demonstrated during the afternoon was wonderfully evocative hand drawing. A second year architecture student with passion for life drawing had tried her hand at producing equally evocative elevations of her design. The results were mixed, and the delivery uncertain, but one of the joys of teaching is to recognise and encourage potential. Having tutored in the architecture programs at UNSW and UTS over the last few years, I found it a real treat to be invited along as a guest, to drop in at the point of completion, this time. While final presentations complete harrowing weeks of hard slog for students, they are also a rewarding point of reflection, and I was pleased to be able to contribute.

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