A Surviving the Design Studio Survey: Is it “Time to Flip da Switch” and upskill?

So now that architects are all at home making Tik Toks, we have lots of time on our hands. If you are an architecture tragic like me, you may even think in the back of your mind its time to upskill a bit. Time to “flip da switch” as they say on Tik Tok. This time may be the opportunity to fill the gaps regarding “what they don’t teach us at architecture school.” However, architecture schools can only teach so much, (especially if no one can travel to them now), so arguably it is the profession that must also take up some of this slack.

However, as the recent AACA survey of architectural education in Australia noted it would be better for everyone if there were a closer and more practical integration, between the architecture schools and industry.

There is an opportunity to strengthen relationships between architecture schools and practice – with potential for action from both. From the university perspective, there are already excellent examples across Australasia of best practice for professional practice subjects other than dry “chalk and talk”, some of which are based on simulated practice activities led by experienced practitioners. Links with local practices can be leveraged into opportunities for internship programs, site visits and other work integrated-learning opportunities.

You can find this landmark report here. All Australian architects should read it.

Reshaping post-professional education. 

I would argue that architects, via all their peak -professional associations and universities can and should get together and start to reshape post-professional architectural education. Architectural education should not cease at graduation and nor should practices shirk their responsibilities when it comes to career development.

Tik Tok Dance 1

Here we are living in lockdown in a global pandemic where everything will not be the same going forward. In past recessions, architects have responded in ways that have arguably shifted the nature and direction of the profession. So what will we do this time?

Lockdown is probably the time for architects to get some more skills together. Some people will go off and exit the profession and do other things, but if you are committed to being an architect here are some things you might do. Here’s a list of my top ten things I think architects could be better at doing. You will notice, its a very pragmatic list. But perhaps, our lack of basic knowledge, and skills, in some specific areas is why other actors in Design and Construction industry think architects are dickheads.

Another Top 10 

1. SME Financial Management: Now more than ever, cash flow should be central to small practice management.

2. Negotiations: tired off getting cut into little pieces by bargainers and bully-boy-tradie negotiators?

3. Procurement Selection: Procurement is more than just wingeing about novation contracts. Architects need to be at the procurement policy and decision-making table.

4. Contract Administration; Are we losing this core service to others? Are graduates getting enough experience in this area?

5. Statutory Planning Issues: Why should the planners do all of this work?

6. Business Planning: Yep, if you want to be a glamorous architect who can afford the luxury brands, then get a business plan. That’s what every other professional service provider does.

This above is only the start of my list. There are heaps of other things architects might upskill on.

8, 9 & 10. Strategy consulting methods, community consultation practices, research methods (which we don’t learn at architecture school) and even some new theoretical perspectives etc.

Welcome to the online zoomi-verse

Moreover, in this new zoomi-verse environment, can we learn these things online. Can the zoomi-verse teach us the things we need to know, so we are no longer regarded as dickheads?

Check out my survey here and let me know what you think we need to upskill in, and how. I will publish the results in a few weeks.


In any case, the global pandemic could be a real opportunity for the architectural profession to reconfigure itself. One way to reconfigure itself is to learn new tricks and upskills. Here some things we can all learn as we are hibernating, living at the bottom of the V, or is it a W, or hanging out in a moribund economy as we wait for those juicy infrastructure projects to kick in.