Architecture is a complex discipline that engages many skills, and the first year of study of this subject is an important step for any passionate student. A first year in a recognized architecture program covers a wide variety of topics, from history and design theory to practical design methods and technological construction tools. During architecture program first year students are expected to familiarize themselves with foundational knowledge and hone their technical skills in order to become well-versed in the craft, and ultimately become successful professionals.
It is not uncommon for architecture first year students to take a variety of classes, both practical and theoretical. The first year of a program typically requires some sort of introductory course, which often covers fundamental topics such as design theory, spatial design, construction methods, architectural history and the basics related to software and materials.
History and Theory
The history and theory courses typically offered in the first year of an architecture degree program are intended to help students gain a better understanding of the field and its evolution. Throughout these classes, students get the opportunity to explore how architecture has evolved over time and the various philosophies, trends, times and regions that have impacted its evolution. By familiarizing themselves with architectural history and theory, first year architecture students also acquire a better understanding of the main architectural styles and their influences on the built environment. Additionally, these classes are also designed to provide students with the tools to start to critically analyze architecture, which is essential for anyone looking to pursue a career in this field.
Aside from history and theory, architecture first year students will also often get the chance to learn about the basics of the design process. As a complex discipline, architecture requires a well-structured approach and an understanding of the different phases of the process. Throughout their classes students will be taught to consider the user, familiarize themselves with existing conditions, come up with alternative solutions and develop creative ideas. They will also be exposed to the basics of 3D modeling and representational drawing, which is used throughout the design process. By the end of the first year, architecture students should have a strong familiarity with the methods used to design and build projects.
Architecture requires an understanding of many different tools and technologies. During the first year of their program, students will often be expected to familiarize themselves with the different tools used to create and execute projects. This often includes learning about both digital and physical tools, such as Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software, 3D modeling, woodworking and metalworking. As well as the tools used in architecture, students might also be introduced to materials and their properties, as well as sustainable building practices. This is particularly important in current times, as sustainable design has become an integral part of the discipline.
In addition to the technical aspects of architecture, first year architecture students will also be exposed to topics related to the practice of architecture and the industry. This might include the fundamentals of business, legal terms and contracts, project management, liability, and building codes and standards. Such subjects are essential for students looking to start a career in architecture, and understanding the industry will author them to become better-prepared professionals.
Architecture also requires an understanding of the fundamentals of communication, both verbal and visual. During their first year, students can expect to learn the basics of both to help them convey their ideas and projects accurately. This often includes drawing and drafting courses and courses related to digital representation. The study of verbal communication is also important, as it teaches students to effectively interact with clients, colleagues and collaborators.
Criticism and Refinement
One of the most important aspects of architecture first year instruction involves criticism and refinement. Architecture is an iterative process, and understanding how to critique and refine design ideas is a key lesson for any aspiring professional. Criticism allows students to evaluate their designs objectively and objectively identify areas of improvement. Furthermore, the understanding of how to effectively navigate the design process and review their work through a critical eye is key to the success of any architecture student.