Do you ever have them subjects where you expect the worst? You don’t only expect a fail, but a hard fail at that. If you read this blog regularly you’d know of my struggles this semester with studio, if you aren’t aware just randomly click on a few recent posts and you’d bound to come across one. Needless to stay it was a difficult studio, throughout the semester never really received much positive feedback and when people would say “Oh you’d be alright” I had to remind them “Let’s just wait until results are released”. Well, results were released three days ago and I must may I am pleasantly surprised of my final grade. This isn’t a ‘boast post’ but rather I want to share how I went from a tragic mid-sem crit to a final-crit which netted positive results.

“I am contacting you regarding the subject Master of Architecture Studio D. You have been identified as someone who may be having difficulties in this subject due to non-submission of assessment and concerns regarding the quality of the assessment you have submitted. At this point we would like to find out whether there is anything affecting your performance that we can help you with.”

The above was taken from an email I received from the Academic Support Office not long after mid-sem, which led me to believe I failed the mid-sem review. It was quite crushing to read this, given I received a similar email back in undergrad, and it did make me think ‘Do I continue with this studio or just drop out?‘. It wasn’t long after I received another which contained feedback from said crit, and I was able to relive mid-sem by reading “No models“, “Work seemed unfinished (because you changed tact) rather than minimal“, “Renders are not working in the presentation“, “Work needs to be more engage with and innovative” and “More detailed engagement as a designer is required here for a positive outcome” were some of the comments. It really did not go well.

There I was, a project which bombed and a concerned email from the support office, where would I go from here? Where could I go from here? I picked out pieces of the design which had potential and looked at developing the design, not so much redesign. I started to focus on the programmatic planning of the layout, ensuring little details such as toilets, cleaning rooms and storage wasn’t forgotten about. I looked into material and opted out the easy “glaze the exterior, white the interior” but rather materials which suited the brief and scale. I looked into the structure of the building, the spans of beams, column locations, grid lines and thicknesses. What I ended up doing was just work through the details while trying to figure out the big picture stuff.

Along the way I had some big decisions to make, which direction to head and had many questions to ask myself. I ended up receiving some positive feedback from the tutor at one of the studio sessions, and after that she didn’t see my project for a few weeks. I turned up to the final review feeling good about the design, it was far from perfect but I felt there were a couple ideas which were strong enough to get me over the line. There were some criticisms such as “The strength of the project was let down by the drawing style which you should focus on ASAP” and “This aspect in the model was also not professional enough for your level in the course.” which I talked about in my represent blog post.

After seeing my final grade for the studio it gave me a sense of relief, but also motivation. Most of the criticism I received was about the actual design and the graphic representation, but in the end it was just about the graphic representation. That is something I plan to work on over the summer break, re-rendering the project and re-doing the plans in an attempt to improve upon this. I think at the end of the day, when it’s all done and dusted, how I turned it around was to just keep working at it. I didn’t just stop at the big idea but though about the smaller details and moments in the building, and it’s encouraging as a designer to know that this approach saved me from having to repeat studio again.

Have you been pleasantly surprised by your final grade for a studio? Or do you not worry about your grade for studio? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.