This year the University of New Mexico AIAS Chapter started a new event series called TimeOut. The goal is to hold one per month, and it’s a way for students who attend the Architecture, Landscape, and Urban Planning program to take a break from the overwhelming workload of studio. Our main goal is to strengthen culture; we want to encourage students to bond, create memories and experiences with one another. It’s for one hour before studio; once per month; no architecture. As part of our Welcome Back Week, we decided to go BIG and go with an Obstacle Course Bounce House so that students can blow off steam from the astounding amount of information of the first week of school.
How It Started
Once elected, our chapter’s executive board (including myself) sat down and basically thought about what we wanted to tackle this year. In this process, we identified that studio culture is a huge factor about architecture school and the issue for us was that our school tends to be a little segregated due to two main reasons: separation by different years/levels and separation by studio work. With these challenges in mind, the UNM AIAS Executive Board decided to strive towards strengthening studio community and therefore, our studio culture. It’s important for us to share the message that the studio community, whether it be your school or mine, is where inspiration and collaboration coincides with one another. This is where your school’s pride originates and grows; it’s where students build long lasting friendships and it’s where you learn most about yourself as a person.
By initiating events that allow the studio to bond in a very informal and non-architectural way, these stress relievers act as a catalyst, similar to an “ice-breaker”. It enables students, members and even faculty to experience memorable moments with their friends, colleagues, and other students. Madie Wickstrom, our Chapter’s Vice President was actually the one who initiated the idea of “TimeOuts” as a way for students to take a healthy hour break from studio once a month. TimeOut provides a time and place, one hour before studio to let loose with your friends and have fun.
How They’re Funded
Most of the events are donated services from other organizations and/or people. Because of a couple unexpected issues, the Bounce House has been the only TimeOut so far that required payment from our self generated fund. Luckily, we were able to fundraise enough money over the summer so it was an expense that we could afford. Recently, we were able to get 14 service dogs to come in for Doggie Day in September from a local canine organization, Southwest Canine Corps and for Yoga Day in October, our Chapter Vice President, Madie knows a yoga instructor who will be able to come in to teach for an hour.
As Chapter President, I truly believe that with a strong team, TimeOuts are doable. I highly encourage other Chapters to try them out and create weird, quirky memories that are unique to your school. It makes me proud and happy in fact to be able to see the TimeOut effects within studio. I notice that through the levels, there’s a sense that the studio’s gotten a little closer and are more comfortable with one another.
There has definitely been some challenges and disagreements with TimeOut due to the fact that they are not architecturally related. Sometimes, it may seem as though we’re prioritizing fun over education. One thing that I’d like to say about that is yes, we are architecture students and we’re proud to be spending 24/7 building conceptual models, drafting, and making digital boards. This is an area of study that requires every bit of ourselves and it requires ambition and determination, but we’re also just human. Not to sound too cliche, but life is short; STUDIO is short. So, in our opinion we learn best by talking with one another, bouncing ideas off of each other and really connecting through the highs and the lows that occur in studio.