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Your Survival Kit: Top 10 Items For An Architecture Student’s First Semester

It’s almost that time of year again — a baptism of fire awaits all those budding architects as they embark on the epic journey that is the first year of university. Time will render you battle-hardened, but until then, peruse these handy items, each of which could serve to make college life just that little bit easier.


10. Freitag Messenger Bag

The messenger bag — an essential for architecture students, who have an uncanny knack for accumulating all manner of pens, papers, electronic devices, and jam-packed scrapbooks. Many will desire the professional aesthetics of a leather satchel, but if you are after something a little more quirky — not to mention sustainable — my choice would be a Freitag bag, made from recycled vinyl advertising hoardings. Every bag is unique in its design, and super hardwearing — ideal for years of hard graft in the studio.


9. FriXion Pens

Ever dreamt of creating intricate sketches in the vein of Lebbeus Woods, but worried about errant lines caused by unsteady hands? FriXion pens take that pressure away, allowing you to erase any stray markings and sketch at top speed without cause for concern. They also have replaceable cartridges and come in an array of different colors — keep some handy for on-the-go scribbling.


8. Sharpies

When the fine lines of FriXion are just not enough, turn to your trusty Sharpies for sweeping gestures in the manner of Zaha, Gehry, or Libeskind (don’t worry though, your designs need not resemble those of any famous architect!). These pens have been a staple of architects and students alike for years, but my particular favorites lie in one of their special packs: the "Couleurs Café" set. Yes, they are named after items found in your local coffee shop, and yes, they do look strangely delicious because of that. Don’t eat them though, just sketch.


7. X-ACTO Basic Knife Set

The perils of the X-ACTO knife are all too familiar to me, having sliced more than my fair share of Balsa wood and cardboard with shockingly shaky hands at 3 a.m. If you want to get a clean edge to every wall in your scale model — and minimize the risk to your fingers in the process — a set of specialized blades for wood, board, card, plastic, and even cloth. Go forth and model!


6. onE Puck Charging Coaster

The smart phone has long been an indispensable item in every student’s pocket — for architecture majors, it’s about snapping arty photos and conducting on-the-go research, never procrastinating on Facebook, of course. The only thing more indispensable is that hot cup of strong coffee to keep the creative juices flowing — and your eyes open … enter the onE Puck, allowing you to charge your phone using the heat from your mug. But what to put on it? How about...


5. LEGO Mug

… this mug. The average person might argue that it’s a little childish, but not if you’re an architecture student. LEGO is the one toy that we will never grow out of — and what better way to cogitate over your latest design idea than building a miniature plastic marvel on the side of your trusty vessel? The iconic toy can act as the ultimate stress reliever for designers, so it’s no surprise to see them popping up in every possible incarnation. Even …


4. Moleskine

… in the most iconic of notebook brands. It’s a cliché, yes, but with good reason — the Moleskine has been the architect’s best friend for many a year due to its tactile feel and quality paper, and the only tricky decision these days is deciding which type to go for. It just so happens there is a 2014 limited edition, celebrating our favorite plastic bricks all over again. And yes, you can build stuff right on the cover. Boom.


3. Lexon Buro Desk Accessories

When you have finally finished playing with LEGO and actually begin to get some design work done, it’s handy to have some good quality desk accessories to help you along the way. This collection from Lexon will appeal to architecturally inclined souls more than most — its sharp-edged, sculptural forms include a calculator, hole punch, stapler, calculator, and USB hub. Watch out though — your colorful collection could easily be pilfered by fellow students across the studio.


2. Ostrich Pillow

I am a strong advocate for no all-nighters on the run-up to those dastardly deadlines — try to plan your design time and schedule a full night’s sleep in the comfort of your own bed each night. However, sometimes it doesn’t pan out quite that smoothly — in which case, The Ostrich Pillow by Studio Banana Things could be the ideal accessory for grabbing 40 winks at your drawing board. Just beware — a serious case of bed head hair awaits …

1. Pencil by FiftyThree

Wait, yet another drawing implement? Well yes, but this one is a little different. Pencil featured in Architizer’s Christmas list for students last year, but it is well worth flagging up again as a great accompaniment to the iPad (other tablet computers are available). It is a beautifully tactile piece of kit, and the video below hints that almost any style of sketch, texture, or shade may be possible (don’t give up on those Sharpies though!).

Yours relentlessly,

The Angry Architect