Any student who participates in an architecture studio in college will remember reviews. During an architectural review, you place the project that you have put numerous hours of work into and watch it get ripped apart before your eyes. Just kidding (mostly). This example is dramatic, and in reality, reviews will differ professor by professor, from scathing to refreshingly positive. Needless to say, I was curious what review would look like in my Danish architectural studio at DIS.
And I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. (Although I know you were silently cheering for a ripping story.) The review seemed to reflect the greater values of the Danish approach to work. Across the board, the standards are simply higher than American workforce standards. Employees are treated as people with lives outside work. They have flexible work hours, one to two year maternity and paternity leaves, and required access to both standing desks and a window! There is an allotted amount of outside view and daylight that each employee must receive. That’s next level!
Anyway, our reviews were unusually positive and democratic (compared to reviews at my home university). Our critics, which included both my professor and a guest librarian who was educated as an architect, focused primarily on the strengths of the project and how we could accentuate those, instead of my long list of shortcomings. Which was a welcome change.
Our project this semester was designing a house for a blind person, which was completely engaging on a number of levels. We began the semester with an experiential workshop where we listened to sound recordings of locations with our eyes closed. It turns out that even we, as seeing people, could use hearing as a more powerful tool than we expected. We were able to ascertain that the recording was from a nearby airport. We understood that it had just recently rained, although the sun was now shining, and we could guess the model of car that drove by us. Or in another recording, we understood that we were in a hall with wood floors as a young girl approached us and took off her jacket and heavy boots. We could envision these places with 30 second sound recordings! It was trippy.
I integrated this newfound experience of sound into my project, using sound to differentiate the sounds of the city from the sounds in my home. I hypothesized that a blind parent might actually be able to tell the difference between their quiet dining room and living room that opens up to the city, depicted in this colorful sound diagram below.
All in all, the critics and my classmates supported the idea, but thought I could have made the spaces more livable. Which I completely agree with. A hallway should be wider than one meter, but I can be a little high controlling and declare that my hallway will only be a meter wide! Okay, maybe a lot high controlling.
Needless to say, I laughed and cracked jokes throughout my review, and gained some deep insight into ways that I could improve the way I think. My classmates participated, and I found myself throwing out suggestions during the rest of my classmates reviews. It was a refreshing change from the high stakes experiences of reviews at my host university, and I have to admit that I enjoyed the day.