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Much ado about a year-out student

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The range of tasks given to year-out students is incredible:

one will spend four weeks detailing the jamb on a halfhour fire door, in between folding drawings, while their erstwhile fellow student is the de facto job architect on the £500 million redevelopment of a former mining town in Derbyshire, in between folding drawings. (There is always one partner who has failed to grasp that the 22 year old in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer T-shirt is the practice's biggest fee-earner.) The only thing more fantastic than this real disparity is what they tell their friends they are doing.

When architects were less academically and more vocationally trained, the job of those employing year-out students was to give them a flavour of the full range of activities which one undertakes in practice.

Obviously, students were shielded from the worst excesses of fee-bidding, freemasonry and blaming the M&E consultants for everything, but the year out did extend one's horizons beyond the hitherto all-consuming questions of whether one should copy Aalto again or challenge conventions with an Eisenman rip-off, and whether two sheets of Pantone is a better bargain than 15 pints of lager.

That world expired about the same time as the RIBA fee scale. Now, any year-out student who shows particular aptitude in pencil shading (more probably 3D rendering these days), or door scheduling can expect to do little else, and he or she will have to exercise great ingenuity in explaining this away in 12 years time when sitting Part 3.

An average all-rounder may gain an in-depth knowledge of Approved Document B or the White Book, but such preparation will not skew their world view enough to shine in Part 2, where only freakish obsessions, or at least massive eccentricity, are counted as 'interesting'.

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