The studio

This is the 5th instalment in a series of 10 articles where we attempt to categorise chronologically and thematically the list of things you will need to start your architecture practice, and furnish it with the glimpses of insight we’ve accrued during the first three years of our architecture practice, Mihaly Slocombe.

5. The studio

office chair

When: Soon
Importance: High
Cost: Moderate to high
Difficulty: Moderate

Though it’s entirely possible to work at your kitchen table in your pyjamas, do your printing at the local Officeworks and meet your clients in a local cafe, you will soon find that these are rituals of distraction. Do not be fooled by the warm sense of accomplishment you get after cleaning out the fridge or hanging out a load of clothes: these are tasks for before 9am and after 6pm. Put effort into developing alternative rituals of productivity: we have found that performing our work in a dedicated working environment is the first step to achieving this.

In your working environment, at the very minimum you will need as many desks as you have workers and a separate space to take meetings. You will also need storage space for your project and administration folders; samples and trade literature library; and stationary.

We have yet to take the leap to a formal studio, but have reached a compromise that at the moment works perfectly for us: our studio is in our spare bedroom (16sqm) with sufficient desk space for two people together with all our storage requirements, while our dining room (13sqm) doubles as a meeting room, with a wall of architecture books bestowing a satisfyingly architectural energy. Not quite as official as a separate studio space, this setup is much cheaper than having to pay the additional rent and utilities, has a 10 second commute time and allows me to be around whenever our 1 year old son does something new and amazing.

We dress for work every day: jeans and a shirt are sufficient, only architects meddling in corporate environments need be slaves to the suit. This might go without saying now that we employ a student, but beforehand there was always the temptation to stay cosy and snug in tracksuit pants and hoodie. Resisting this temptation lends a noticeable improvement in attitude to the day’s work.

For hardware, we make do with an A4 colour bubblejet printer, though should probably upgrade to an A3 colour laser. We have an account with the inestimable Creffield Digital Print for anything larger. We have staplers, hole punchers, paper stock, envelopes, arch lever folders, cutting mats, model making material, stamps, plastic folders and plenty of pens. Printers are not expensive, though ink cartridges are. Do a bit of shopping online for these consumables, and you will save a great deal.

For furniture, we have a pair of beautiful Aeron chairs, an investment in good posture and healthy backs. For the rest, remember you’re an architect, so your desks and bookshelves can be both well designed and extremely cheap. Our friends and colleagues at Foong and Sormann use Ikea legs with a sheet of formply as their desks. Bookshelves can use strips of plywood strung between stacks of bricks.

Author: Warwick Mihaly

I am an architect, writer, teacher and father.

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