ArchDaily recently had a discussion regarding 24 hour access to architecture studios, whether they produce an unhealthy culture or if they are useful for students. I feel as though I now have enough experience to talk about this issue, however the tricky bit is, at this present moment I’m neither pro-24/7 or con-24/7.At Deakin University here Down Under our studio has 24hour access, granted you have filled out the paperwork and have your student card upgraded to allow it to scan. If not, you either keep knocking on the door until someone in the studio lets you in, or you are locked out adter 6:00pm, until 8:00am. I would get the feeling many universities are like this, where they aren’t open 24/7 to everyone but to those with access privileges.
I did hear from one of the tutors here when he visited another university they didn’t have a 24hr studio, instead at 11pm the entire studio was closed and re-opened at 6am, so at the very least students could get 7hrs sleep. It’s this idea that forms this discussion, does allowing students to spend days at a time, in the studio, with minimal to zero sleep, is really creating a healthy culture and future architects.
Last year I spent A LOT of time in the studio, often pulling all-nighters, spending days at a time, telling myself it was needed to get the work done. Towards the end of the first semester I burnt out, I ran out of energy, motivation and I was mildly depressed. I was spending so much time at the studio I neglected sleep, exercise and healthy foods and drinks. Now, this isn’t about the all-nighter culture, this is about are 24hr studios encouraging these all-nighters.
If the studio here at Deakin closed up, fully, at 11pm, would I have still pulled those all-nighters? Yes and no, some nights I would have just went home and go to sleep, others I would have returned home to keep working. But one thing is for certain, I wouldn’t have practically live in the studios for days on end.
Many comments from the ArchDaily discussions, students expressed closing the studio wouldn’t have forced them to sleep, many criticising the workload placed upon architecture students forcing them to work late, in turn twisting the university’s arms to keep spaces open. What was fascinating with the discussion was just how passionate students got, with some appearing to brag about multiple all-nighters and some bragging about zero all-nighters.
Should university’s have a responsibility towards a student’s well-being? Or is it on the individual to know their limitations and decide to go home at 12am for sleep?
A part of me can see the benefits of being able to access the studio 24/7, particular if you don’t conform to the typical sleep cycles or your creativity comes to you at 11pm. However there is a terrible culture and belief among architecture students, that you are only committed and passionate if you stay up for days on end, and practically kill yourself with McDonalds and caffeine. I should know, I had this similar thought. The university, or more-so the school, needs to address this culture and start to change it, and can start it by sending students home at a particular time. Yes, some students will just keep working through the night elsewhere, but at least the school is seen to be making a statement.
If I had to answer right now, t-square to my head, should architecture studios be open 24/7? My answer would be, no, they shouldn’t. They should close before midnight and encourage students to get some rest. You are probably shaking your head in disbelief but if you’re anything like me and how I was at 3am, trust me, you aren’t getting much done, it’s better to just go home and sleep for a few hours.
What are your thoughts? How would you react if your school decided to revoke 24hr access?
Feature image by Panda – Daniel Lawson Photography