ARCH: the ‘review of reviews’


This workshop is for students who want to overcome a worry about presenting design work It is deliberately designed to be relaxed and to build confidence  

The architectural review is ritual in education in which the student presents work to academics in  public for legitimisation but which research has shown to be a frightening experience (Webster  2005). Many architectural students live in fear of the review. It can remove their enjoyment of the  subject and many potentially good designers are lost to the architecture profession because of the  way in which reviews are held. The traditional review cripples learning, especially for the shy and  reserved. This is an issue throughout architectural education. Myself and colleagues are very  supportive of initiatives to overcome this and have been developing innovative new ways of helping  students to explain their work and to receive feedback without being intimidated. 

There are many words associated with this but all have roughly the same meaning and same  connotations: ‘review’, ‘critique’ (crit), ‘presentation’, ‘jury’. 

There are two common reasons for problems associated with this process of giving students  feedback on their design work. 

The critic (who may be from academia or practice) does not understand what being a critic is  about and how to explain his or her thinking without being aggressive or condescending.  The student (who may be resilient or reserved) not being prepared, being too defensive or being argumentative.  

Both of these broad problems can be overcome by the student taking control of the review.  

But before we look at how this workshop might help you do that let’s consider some positive aspects  of the architectural review. Reviews help you: 

To synthesise your design arguments and defend your ideas 

To work to deadlines and mimic practice 

To improve visual and verbal communication skills 

To improve your design output 


This workshop aims to help you think about the architectural review and its role in your education  and in professional practice through undertaking research, practical exercises, including developing a  piece of design and presenting it. You will also have a good idea of alternative ways of undertaking  reviews and in how to make the most of them. All of the above is scheduled to be carried out over a  period of two weeks, based on working approximately 4 hours (with academic staff) and 6 hours  (without academic staff) per week. 

At the end of the workshop you should have much more confidence in understanding reviews and in  taking charge of the presentation and understanding of your project. This is useful for all students of  architecture.  



We will start with an introduction to the review using examples and academic research. This will be  done on line (staff presentations) and by individual learning and reflection. In particular you will be  asked to reflect on your own work to date in design studio and your experience of the review. This  

will be done in a systematic way with results posted on line. This first part of the workshop will be  followed by an individual short design exercise (esquisse) that will help you to generate a  proposition that might be reviewed.  

You will then have a presentation about different methods of review and how to make the most of  them, including advice on selecting the best one for the purpose. We will conclude week 1 by  creating cross university groups ready for the start of week 2.  

Week 2 will be group work. Your group will be assigned the task of choosing a review typology best  suited to (a) the student presenting and (b) the type of project being presented. You will be helped  to do this but at the same time encouraged to be creative and arrive at your own preferred  approaches. These will be compared against traditional approaches (by academic staff) to help you  understand them.  

You will then have a review of your work – how that will be done will be revealed to you at the time.  The idea being that this delay in revealing how you will be reviewed mimics some of the  apprehension felt before a review – but please be assured that this is a relaxed, fun experience.  


Friday 14h00 [or alternative tba] Short introduction 


Monday 13h00-15h00 Presentation of the workshop  Overview of the review process 

Setting the first task 

Wednesday 11h30-12h30 Setting the design task  

Friday 14h00-16h00 Submission of design task 

Formation of groups 


Monday 13h00-15h00 Developing confidence 

Review formats 

All week Reviews at given times 

Friday 13h00-17h00 Review of the reviews


Each university has its own expectations and requirements and you will be informed of those  separately. As a general guide to assessing your involvement in this workshop the following will be considered: 

Evaluation is based on: 

your grasp of the concerns that surround architectural reviews,  

your self-reflection  

your development of a suitable approach to the review 

your review  


University of the West of England, Bristol (ENGLAND) /