The value of crits and engaging with students

22nd January 2018

Sheppard Robson partner Nick Ffoulkes wrote the below short blog piece on his thoughts following a crit at The Architectural Association.

It’s often hard to get time away from projects and pitches to spend with students, but it is worth it. This was brought into sharp focus recently when I spent the day at the AA doing crits on the school’s Housing and Urbanism MArch. The day assembled a panel of academics and practitioners to comment on students’ final proposals who were three weeks away from the end of their 18 month course.

The aim was to give guidance on the academic structure and rigour of student’s urban propositions, which ranged from integrating schools into neighbourhoods and bringing retail back into true urban centres. The proposals were current, relevant and thought-provoking and I couldn’t help think that the process of ‘critting’ is a two way street:  one that that is rewarding for the panellist as well as the student. I left the day with an optimism fuelled by the next generation who spoke with ambition and positivity as well as it being a reminder in the art of listening and collaboration.

A fresh eye of the students have an important part to play in conversations about our cities; their unencumbered view – coupled with optimism and ambition – makes for a refreshing perspective that our industry should continue to embrace and actively support.  

My final thought goes to the course leaders who provide guidance and a wealth of knowledge with a level of commitment and care that I find inspiring.