I’ve been travelling for a few years now as a so-called architect (yawn..). As I continuously endeavour this architectural niche I’ve ridden myself into, I thought it would be good to show how I actually travel. Of course, I’m not stereotyping the way all architects travel (who knows how Zaha Hadid travels anyway), but I thought it would be interesting to you.
1. First, browse for your favourite buildings
Yup..I wanna see that building…let’s go to that city…
A lot of architects do travel to places to see a building or two. We can’t resist it. It’s like ice cream shoved in front of your face
. I can’t say every places we go, but most of them. It’s quite a norm for architects to find out which buildings they like or famous, only to pay homage to the edifices. This is easier to do if the places you’re visiting has world-famous architectural attractions – such as the Alhambra, Empire State building or Angkor Wat (I do not think that Empire State building belongs to the same category as Angkor Wat but you know what I mean). I hate to admit this but my recent trip to India did have that aspect of ‘oh yes, finally I do get to see Taj Mahal myself’. My mates are going to laugh at me on this..shoot*
If you’re visiting big cities like London, Paris and New York then you’ll automatically drawn to a number of landmarks within just one city. Yes, a collection of buildings to be indulged and raved about (or slated). That’s why we love these cities.
2. Aspire to stay at great designed places..or at least talk about visiting them
Choosing a place to stay is quite easy. If money permits that is. Every architect knows one or two famous hotels that is known for its world-famous designs. For instance, if you go to Romania during winter, you will be tempted to stay at the ice hotel, if you visit Barcelona you might want to stay at any one of the super-architect designed rooms of Hotel Puerta America. If money is not an objection then why not splurge your monthly salary for a night at the Burj Al-Arab? yeah right..Though we rarely do stay at any of these posh places, we do talk about them or sometimes attempt to visit one to check out the cool interiors (huh..did I really admit that).
3. Take lots of photos
We architects take more photos than most people save for photographers themselves. We’re a visually driven lot. A camera is a compulsory item to carry, be it a DSLR or a basic camera phone. We stumble across many different things that attract us, from geniusly designed spaces to a beautiful detail of a glass staircase. We naturally scrutinise bits and pieces of our favourite buildings. Okay that is an overreaction but hey, a camera is the most precious possession for any travellers today so why not capture every single shot possible? Have a camera, use them.
So what about photos of the glorious food and the fascinating cultures explored during our travels? Yes, as stylish as the word ‘architect’ carries, we do take photos of our food even though it was the cheapest, tasteless option according to local taste buds. We’re human beings after all and sometimes our taste is different to yours. Just like our designs.
4. Bring a sketchbook or at least a working pen
ok. this might be over the top. I mean who sketches anymore? Architects draw a lot when in the office, but on holiday? nah..screw that. Anyway, I thought it’s a really cool thing to bring a sketchbook whilst travelling. Not only can you jot down those details that you’ve never seen before, your sketchbook WILL become your most prized possession. After owning a few of these Moleskines, the numbers of souvenirs I’ve bought has gone down pretty dramatically. I’ve thrown away most of my souvenir t-shirts already (really?..well some of it). Why do you need those cool fridge magnets when you can have a really cool documentation of your travels? hmm…maybe not those fridge magnet…They’re cool. Keep it.
We architects naturally draw a lot and might not have notice it. It is normal to see architects jotting down a piece of information either on bits of paper or more famously on paper napkins whilst wandering away with our unsettled minds. Hey, if you draw quite a lot why don’t you do yourself a favour by getting a small sketchbook like I always do? It would help your creative juice flowing regardless which corner of the globe you’re in. More importantly, it will help you to organise all of the information you’ve discovered on your ‘expedition’ throughout the world.
Oh by the way, don’t forget to bring your pens.
5. Talk about it when you can
Architects do talk about their profession whilst on travel. Most architects love their jobs so much that it’s hard to separate job with life (that’s why we’re often taken advantage off and paid peanuts compared to other professions ;-P). We talked about buildings anywhere we go. Sometimes a bit too much. But hey, if you’re so passionate with what you’re doing, why not share them with your travelling partner or friends? Who knows, they might learn a thing or two not shown in guidebooks. Worst come to worst, you’ll only get ridiculed with your diminutive point of expertise. But then, who cares? We architects often get ridiculed with our pointless dreamy ambitions anyway.
okay I’ll take that back, I actually care.
There you go. Follow these 5 simple steps and you’re definitely travelling the architect’s way. If you’ve already been following these simple steps, welcome to the life of a travelling architect! What do you think? Any suggestions? Feel free to leave your suggestions below.