This past week has been final reviews for the students at Melbourne School of Design, and for the first time, in a long time, I didn’t need to present anything. Instead I went along to a review to show support to a friend who was presenting, and it was a rather strange feeling. Without the need to stress about my own presentation, I was able to listen in more attentively and absorb the feedback they were giving to the students. Now as you may know, I finished studio last year, so I kinda don’t need to hoard this advice. This is what I learnt by being a spectator at final reviews.

1 _Your drawings should show what you’re saying_ I’ve had this in the past, where I would be saying a lot of good stuff, but it didn’t reflect in my drawings. Your plans, sections, diagrams, renders, etc are another form of communicating your ideas, so if they don’t reflect or show your ideas than what’s the point?

2 _Stay away from the computer to explore processes_ I’m starting to realise how guilty I’ve been of these in my own education, but a couple critics suggested stepping away from the computer in the early days and explore options in a rapid-fire way. They went as far as suggesting making models out of clay, and even plastic bags, as a way test different options quickly, as the time it’d take doing it on the computer would render it pointless.

3 _You know your design_ I’ve never been one to read from a script, sometimes I’d just get up and talk, using my panels as my ‘script’, other times I had a couple dot-points noted on a piece of paper. A piece of advice from a critic to a student who read from a script, but during the questions-portion spoke so much better about their design, was ‘write your script down three times, then burn it‘.

4 _Show trees at 3/4 age_ Apparently there is a rule-of-thumb when showing trees/shrubs in design, and that is represent them at the size they would be at 3/4 of being fully-matured. Showing them like you just planted misrepresents the final look, and there was a reason as to not show them fully-matured but can’t remember, maybe too over-bearing?

5 _Landscape design is hard_ Just on landscaping, it’s hard to show something random. A tutor made a comment about their landscaping looking too ‘residential garden design’ as the layout was quite logical. I’ve always struggled with ‘randomness’, even with my thesis last semester where I had grass mounds in the car park “randomly” in places. It’s probably us as architecture students wanting everything to have a logic, a purpose, a reason?

6 _It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t stress_ Standing up in front of your peers, your tutors and strangers can be daunting, and a good reason to be nervous. It’s okay if you forget some words (if you watch my thesis presentation (link above) you can see me visibly nervous) or you blank on a question for a few seconds. However, don’t stress because you’re nervous. I know it’s easier said than done, and there’s nothing I can write here that will make you magically not stress at your next review.

And those are some things I learnt from being a spectator. Big congrats to everyone who has presented this semester, and a big good luck to those who have yet to present.