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The Diary of an Anonymous Student #2

The second in an ongoing series about the day-to-day travails of a student battling through the architectural education system. This week: End of Year

After a what feels like a year long marathon in your own company, living in pyjamas, working 18 hour days and consuming an entire tea farm worth of tea, the day comes where you finally submit your architectural creation in the form of a portfolio. You expect to feel an instant sense of relief and elation as you hand over the pristinely bound document. You don’t.

Following the marathon are the hurdles, consisting of the final presentation and the end of year show. Each carrying their own frustrations.

Everything feels like it comes down to that moment and if you don’t sell, Sir Alan Sugar will fire you

The first hurdle feels like judgement day. The school of architecture I attend allows a minimal amount of time to present your year long project to a panel of X-Factor judges. The pressure to sell the project is huge. Everything feels like it comes down to that moment and if you don’t sell, Sir Alan Sugar will fire you. Following the swift presentation which you can barely remember in your state of nerves, you are sent away to allow the judges to discuss your grade. Results cannot be communicated before the external examiners approval, so you are provided with vague feedback leaving you lost, with no inclination of how the project was received and fearing the worst. The experience brought many to tears.

The last hurdle is the end of year show and the finish line is in sight

Finally, the last hurdle is the end of year show and the finish line is in sight. Exhibiting the work of each unit in the best light, the end of year show aims to impress the architectural community with experimental models, beautiful renders and imagery. What can be a great opportunity to see the dreamed up projects across the board before they get lost forever in the student projects cemetery, turns out to be a political whirlwind followed by a very sweaty evening trying to negotiate between unit spaces.

Planning for the end of year show generally begins with allocating wall space to students. In many instances the tutor will dictate what work goes where, locating the slightly lacking projects in small dark corners and narrow corridor spaces - an obvious message that your project isn’t quite up to scratch - ouch. In other instances the tutor will take a large step back and put the control into the hands of the students. This is the messy situation I find myself.

Each student is prepared to fight to the death to get the front row seat for their project

The combination of each student wanting to display all their final work and the limited wall space available, results in a heightened pressured situation with each student prepared to fight to the death to get the front row seat for their project. The entire process results in an array of scalpel backstabbing and has the momentum to end friendships.

On the night, the building exceeds capacity and you can barely move from a to b. Family and friends are lost at sea and you realise no one is even paying attention to the work on the walls. Everyone is merely there for the free drinks and the chat. The heart aches slightly as your year long project comes to a head and you finally feel like you’ve hauled your malnourished body across the finish line. The marathon comes to an emotional and anticlimactic end.

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