Editorial – Design

by / May 2, 2011

CCDN 271 Lecturer: “You’re going to be dreaming design, thinking design, speaking design, eating design… it’s all very sad for you, really.”
Jessica Christini

Last year, Media Studies major Elle enrolled in a 100-level, open-entry course at the School of Architecture and Design on Vivian Street as an interest paper. That was her first mistake.

You see, they do things differently down at Te Aro. You bitch about staying up ’til 3am to finish a 1300-word essay for your 200-level English class? At Te Aro, all-nighters are par for the course. Fact: design and architecture students are the reason it’s worth Midnight Espresso’s while to remain open past midnight. When, in 2005, Victoria University moved to close the formerly 24-hour campus at 11.30pm every night, there was an outcry. It’s hard to imagine us Kelburn students responding to a reduction in the Central Library’s hours with such outrage.

There is much more separating Kelburn and Te Aro than a massive hill. The biggest difference is how accountable design and architecture students are held to their work. That 1300-word essay for your 200-level English class might not be perfect—it might not even be coherent—but meet the minimum word limit, make that delirious push to Von Zedlitz, shove it through a letterbox, and it’s gone, forever. That assignment is dead to you.

That’s not the case at Te Aro, where students present their work in gruelling two- or three-hour studio sessions. When a design student does a half-arsed, last-minute job on a project, they have to justify this to their lecturer, their tutors, their classmates, and, in some cases, even guest lecturers. This prospect instills a sense of responsibility and commitment: do at least a passable job, or you’ll look like a dick. The fear of public humiliation can do wonders for one’s work ethic.

Although Elle soon realised that she preferred the flexible and forgiving nature of her BA, aspects of her short-lived stint as a design student lived on. She discovered the benefits of developing her ideas in a workbook. She saw how rewarding it was to do work she could be proud of. And briefly, just briefly, she experienced that much-fabled campus culture. There’s a real sense of camaraderie down at Te Aro, where students grow close with their year group: they help each other out, they share ideas, they hang out for fun. It’s not the only example of the compact communities that can be found at Vic—the music and theatre schools operate on similar principles—but it is the biggest, the most obvious, and, arguably, the most successful.

So, if possible, and if it sounds like something you’d be into, take a paper down at Te Aro. You might learn something. Just don’t treat it as an interest paper.

Say ‘Hipstamatic!’,
Elle & Uther

About the Author ()

Uther makes theatre. Elle grew up on a boat. Together they edit Salient.

Comments (2)

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  1. cart-horse says:

    This article is great. I feel that when I tell people I am a first year architecture student, they don’t really grasp the implications of that but you have portrayed it really well. Our year is competitive (there are 360 and only 90 places in second year arch) but we do make friends as it is the only way to get through. As a creative course, the only way to know what to do is to bounce ideas off someone else. We have no exams or essays but we spend every waking hour, of which there are many, working on architecture. When we do get to sleep, we either dream about sleeping or about our projects.

    We need hugs. We could probably do with some drugs (to really “push” design idea further). But all we’re likely to get is more coffee during the 2 minute break we allow ourselves before getting back to work!

  2. My Name says:

    I’ll give you hugs cart-horse if you will be my girlfriend please