Architecture: “Isn’t that like 7 years?”

1-1 Detail (near)

1:1 Detail Section – Part of final year Architecture & Planning projectSketch - Me Sketch - Shoes

Background: So I’ve just met someone for the first time and not long into our conversation this tends to happen.


Person: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “I study Architecture and Planning”

Person: “Oh wow. Architecture? Isn’t that like, 5 years?”

Me: “Um… no, its actually 7 [UK standard] but its broken up…”

Person: “7 years?????? That’s worse than being a doctor..”

*My Head*: *think happy thoughts*.. *must think happy thoughts*


Self-motivation is such a struggle sometimes and on a course of this length the emphasis is even greater to get you across that line.

But why so long? The general structure in the UK means that you study your Part 1 for 3 years (4 in my case with planning), work a year in industry, study a further 2 years (Part 2), then do Part 3 exams before finally becoming a registered architect. I probably lost you halfway through that sentence and many people are switched off at the thought of studying for so long, but is it 7 years of sheer doom and gloom?

The thing about architecture that I’ve learnt to treasure most on my relatively “short” journey (so far) is studio-culture. The design studio is what I would call the ‘brains factory,’ where designs, ideas, knowledge and thoughts are bounced around, shared with peers and tutors alike and ultimately tested to see if they would work in reality. I’ve seen some weird, wacky, outrageous and brilliant creations formed in these spaces and a real sense of community exists there.

The past week has been a great example of this. As part of our on-going final year project, we were each asked to hand draw a detailed 1:1 scale (which is real-life scale) cut-through of the buildings we’re proposing, with a human figure to illustrate scale. This meant a week spent working in a particular space with particular people around you. With limited tutor contact hours and lots of us doing details we weren’t particularly familiar with, it meant an intense week of collaborating with others to figure out what exactly was needed. This really encouraged us to interact and share knowledge, food, music, laughs, and life. It all culminated in some incredible drawings yesterday afternoon, but also increased friendship bonds between us.

Why do I share this? If you have a passion for something, don’t let what others say discourage you or limit your potential. In the words of US singer/songwriter ‘Pitbull’ (I know, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this, but bare with me) he says “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab ’em at least you’ll fall on top of the world”. In saying this, you still need to be ready to grind through hardship and struggle. It won’t be plain sailing and even the best, most talented minds I’ve had the privilege of working with have their ‘off days.’

The thought (and now reality) of several of my peers ‘settling’ into the working world long before I ever leave uni scares me sometimes. But I never lose hope and I’m greatly comforted by the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1 [below] which helps put things in perspective. It makes me “look past where I am and see where I should be” (another quote from a song.. ‘It Would Take All Day – by Kirk Franklin’).


“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

3 thoughts on “Architecture: “Isn’t that like 7 years?”

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