The Nap

This Wednesday and Thursday are mid reviews for studio. Naturally this becomes a high intensity work time that will include late nights even an all nighter or two. The nap is an impromptu response to the long work hours and can occur in studio or even in class (oops!). Those who nap may be photographed. The instagram account penndesignzzz, run by an unknown photographer amongst us, documents these impromptu naps.

This account is regularly checked by classmates and fosters a shared humorous bond as students giggle over the latest addition, surprised by who was caught sleeping. While it is held in a humorous light I think it highlights one of those dangerously overlooked aspects of architectural education: the 24 hour work culture or all-nighter(s).

Thankfully PennDesign attempts to combat that culture through a few measures. The first measure being printing account lock down. Midnight the night before mid and final reviews all student accounts are locked so students cannot update printers, send any material to print, and anything sent to print after midnight remains in the que till printing is unlocked in the morning. The second measure in place is to email/appear in person and remove students from studio. This second measure was not upheld. An email was sent saying pencils down at midnight however no one came in to shoo students away. Frankly this probably would not work anyway as students would likely take work home to complete.

I appreciate the concerted effort to combat the all nighter culture present in architecture. Having early deadlines really aids in ensuring work is completed on time and students are awake enough to actively engage in the reviews.

However that culture is a greater problem when present outside review deadlines in a less stressful class to class production week. What can be done to minimize this culture during a regular week? Better coordination between classes, build up deadlines so work is compiled over time rather than produced in the week before, and discuss work load and deadlines openly with students to better manage production. These strategies I have experienced separately in a few studios but feel if combined would really produce powerful results.

The fault for the culture is shared though so from a student side let’s address what could be done. Really learning to manage time is key. Skill building is also crucial and naturally as a student gains more proficiency in software and physical modeling etc managing work load becomes easier. As well students learn over time what deadlines matter and which can be stretched, what daily activities are important and which can be shuffled aiding in producing productive and positive students.

Every school will have a different degree of the all nighter work culture. Regardless of the degree to which it is present addressing it through scheduling, skill building, and communication can all aid in fostering better work and healthier happier students.



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