ArchStudies.gr is an online project database, organised by students for students. The people behind the idea explain how they became such an active team.
Q: Could you tell us how the story of archstudies began? When, where was the idea born and what were the conditions that permitted it to come to life? How did studies and Greek university life lead to the need for an online magazine for architecture student projects?
A.S.: In 2011, while studying at the Architecture School (AUTH) in Thessaloniki, we realised that during our design studios we were doing a lot of research on reference projects to draw inspiration from them. Moreover, we could see that the university at that point did not collect nor displayed the majority of work done at the studios; all this “juvenilia” was piling up and this pile, everyone’s pile, was left in a way unexploited, waiting to be thrown away sooner or later. It was that moment when we couldn’t help but wonder: “What if we could get inspired of ourselves”, or to put it differently, to be inspired from other architecture students from our school or other universities or even different cities!
By that moment we decided to create an open platform for architecture, design and visual art projects made inclusively by students for students. In this way we thought we could inspire and get inspired from other young architects and help talented people showcase their work to a wider audience. This is how we started by creating a blog which later on became a website…archstudies.gr.
Q:Did you find support in your effort? How did professors and/or universities perceive your initiative?
A.S.: To be honest for the first couple of months it was extremely difficult to attract students and gain their trust to publish their work. Basically we addressed in the beginning close friends who really supported our initiative. After the first few publications we realised that other online magazines started re-blogging projects from our website. So we understood that we were getting some publicity and thus some followers and supporters. Our professors have always been very supportive but it always comes to students to choose to forward their work.
One year later we started supporting several events in Thessaloniki, Greece and abroad with media coverage. In 2013 we moved one step further from online publishing projects; we took the initiative to organise a lecture named ‘Thessaloniki Rethinks Athens’, in collaboration with the school of Architecture AUTH, inviting awarded architects such as D. Gourdoukis and P. Nikiforidis to present their proposals for the architectural competition ‘Rethink Athens’ in our university. During the same year we participated in the exhibition ART is HARD 2013 designing ‘UNFOLD’, an interactive installation showcasing student projects across the city, trying to promote and communicate architecture to the public.
During our studies we had the chance to engage with several events and exhibitions at the School of Architecture AUTH (e.g. Exhibition and Symposium ‘Building: Design, Construct, Think’-2011, Studios exhibition-2010, ‘Public space’ conference-2011, ‘The Void’ exhibition/installation-2013 etc). Through all these projects we gained a lot of presentation, organisation and curating experience as well as communication skills. In this context, we can definitely say that our professors and our university in general had a great impact on our choices regarding the development of our platform.
Q: How did you make the page familiar to its public? How do you get projects in your hands? Do students themselves pursue the publication of their work, or do you scout for projects?
A.S.: In the very begging we used basically posters to shoot our open calls for projects, but a few months later we decided to create a facebook page. We put a lot of effort into social media regarding the promotion and calling for projects. We can now say that after all it works pretty well and smoothly – till now at least! Currently we are receiving 2-3 projects per week on average. We try to keep our publications frequent and at the same time the quality levels high. In the past we have tried to approach students and ask them to publish their projects, but it didn’t work out well since there are a lot of people that become quite tense when it comes to publishing-sharing their work. So nowadays, in-person calls are only used in familiar occasions, more like a reminding or encouragement rather than an actual request.
Q:Do you think students nowadays have incorporated the idea of the promotion of their work? Or do they still hesitate?
A.S.:As we have already mentioned, the first year we launched our platform (2011) we really had to try a lot to get a few projects published and we had to address our close friends to make a start. Young architects didn’t seem very familiar with the idea of sharing their work, the idea of open source or common knowledge in real life (even if they do like using it theoretically!). This reality seems though to have shifted nowadays; architecture students are constantly more and more interested and eager to promote themselves, but they are also used to do it through competitions and online portfolios in their final year. However, there are several other ways and thousands of reasons to publish your work even in an earlier stage! To be honest, even now there are people who still are really sceptic and suspicious about sharing their work. But overall, drawing from our own experience, there has been certainly a big shift in students’ approach to open platforms and e-magazines like ours at the moment. Probably it is widely realised that through participating in the ongoing creation of an open architectural archive, one is not only helping younger students but also gets helped as well!
Q:What is the role of an online database of student’s projects for you?
A.S.:Our initiative was based on our common approach, ethos and willingness for sharing. Nothing has changed for us in this level, so our role remains still the same as it originally was; to promote and archive student’s work. Our aspiration is to broaden the existing field of research for both students but also a wider community beyond the circle of architects through the display and interaction of architectural approaches and emerging trends as reflected in the different academic schools in Greece or abroad.
Moreover, we wanted to move beyond the online publishing per se, as we strongly believe in the importance of a physical footprint. Recently, we organised a student competition followed by an exhibition, showcasing diploma thesis projects in Greece as part of DesignLab Show 2015. This initiative titled “MateЯeality | 25 under 25” was an attempt to bring architecture students a step closer to the construction industry, something that had never happened before in this context. A few months later, within the framework of the global festivities for the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death (1965) and as part of DeCorbuziers exhibition, we organised an international competition under the title “Modernism Memorial” aiming to bring together contemporary interpretations concerning different multidisciplinary approaches over Modernism and specifically over LC’s work.
Through all these events and initiatives, our goal is to enhance the experience of our audience about architecture by blending our digital archive with a physical space whether it is an installation, an architectural exhibition or a workshop!
Q:Finally, what do you predict for the future of ArchStudies? As your careers evolve, will there be student-heirs to carry on, or will you yourselves continue your work?
A.S.: Oh, come on, we just can’t predict the future for sure! We are already scattered in different countries, not to say continents, and our future like everybody else’s is quite uncertain! Our big concern at the moment is to keep growing this open archive and spread out our ideology of sharing knowledge to engage more people and create a common ground between students, architects and society. At the same time, we are always open to contributors and potential collaborators… so please do not hesitate to contact us!
”We are looking forward to present your work to the world in the best way possible!”
Author: ArchStudies Team