Department: Architecture

Architecture was the hardest department for us to do because of their busy schedules. Fortunately, we had a chance to interview a professor, Hugh David Clarke, a student who is on his 3rd class, Barış Kılavuz and a graduate, Elif Arslan.

How many hours in a week do students spend on studying?

Hugh: Too many I think. First of all, with many students I have got over thirty hours of contact teaching, which in my opinion is far too many, especially for architecture, because you need time to breathe and you need time to consider the philosophical issues of architecture that cannot just be taught in a class. Most of our students are working pretty much every day, every evening and every weekend. And, towards the end of a project, they commonly work all night long. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is good although I did it myself when I was a student. They have to work incredibly long hours and most of them do. But, I do wonder whether it is a healthy way to live.

Barış: I think excluding class hours, students are working about 15 hours in a week. But, if they want to gain more success in their professions, they must work harder.

Elif: I used to spend half of the day studying and designing. In the final weeks, I used to study all the time, except for time for my personal needs. I experienced 40 hours of sleeplessness at times.


What are the three most important characteristics of a successful Architecture student?

Hugh: The first one is commitment. An ability to work very hard. Secondly, I think you got to have sensitivity about the environment, and thirdly I think nowadays, you absolutely must have computer skills. We are using very sophisticated software, especially parametric software.

Barış: First of all, you have to manage your time correctly which means being organized. The second thing is that you have to attend all classes and follow the lectures day by day, because if you miss a lecture it is almost impossible to recover the knowledge you have missed. And the third thing is working hard, which is the main characteristic of a successful architecture student.

Elif: Being a perfectionist, seeing details and dreaminess.


What is the most important thing that students do not think of when they choose this department?

Hugh: Many of them probably get shocked about how hard they have to work. How many hours they have to put in.

Barış: Your instructor may not always accept your work. That is why you have to convince them that your work is worth looking at. You should remember that they are not high school teachers. It is hard to impress them.


What is the biggest misconception that students have about studying Architecture?

Hugh: I think it is a misconception that architects work in really cool studios at the top of their houses or something. And, that they come up with great ideas to change the world, and that predominantly they are going to be working as an artist. Actually, in architecture we are expected to be architect, scientist, lawyer and accountant. There are many qualities that go into architecture and being an architect.

Barış: The biggest misconception is the technical aspect. I am talking about our school, we are focusing on the fine arts and design part of the architecture, so it is different from civil engineering.

Elif: Architecture education gives us the talent of designing and some basic information for working. We graduate with the title of “architect” but we don’t do architecture until we start working.


What is the best second language for an Architecture student?

Hugh: It has to be personal. Lots of our students take Italian. We have very good relationships with Politekniko in Milano who have very good ratings as a university worldwide. Most of our students go there to do their masters degree or to do Erasmus. First is Italian, second Spanish, third may be Russian. Students decide on the basis of which countries they would like to work in.

Barış: I think Spanish is a very common language. After English, Spanish is the most common language of the world, but Italy is the most important country for architecture and city planning.

Elif: I took Italian, but if I had a chance to go back, I would choose German.


Do you think it is advisable to do a double major?

Hugh: Not in architecture. It is a vocational subject and it is a profession. It would be very difficult to do a double major. Probably it is not a good idea.

Barış: It may not be suitable for everyone. In my point of view, after finishing 4 years in college, starting a masters degree education sounds better. It is difficult to do a double major in a 4-year education.

Elif: During my years at IEU double majors were not possible. I’d suggest it if students can handle it, but I don’t think so. Sometimes when people start working, they may want other professions. I had many friends who did other jobs after we graduated.


Is Architecture really a major that requires talent? Or is it about using computer programs? Can someone without talent be successful?

Hugh: I think, if somebody is going to practice architecture they have got to be able to use computers. Sometimes, people talk about talent. Not only in architecture, whatever field you are in, talent is 5 percent and perspiration is 95 percent.