You’ve got this kid, age 8-13, let’s say. They’re that weird combo of smarty-smart and arty-smart, and you’re not entirely sure what to do with them. You can tell their brain is grounded, but occasionally you catch them staring out the window, eyes glazed over. They are imagining stuff. Oh no, you think, please don’t let them grow up to be… “A CREATIVE”!!!
Architecture to the rescue.
If you can manage to steer them away from any of the performance or fine arts, the noble profession of architecture will be waiting with functionally-designed open arms. With just a bit of the higher, practical maths, they’ll be gainfully employed in no time. Oh sure, down the line, they might be able to wrangle a few gigs designing concert halls or theme parks – but in the meantime, building affordably-priced apartments for the people of Los Angeles will not only pay the bills, but give them a sense of purpose. Their journey could begin with this book.
Actually, there’s more than one. The first book is The Future Architect’s Handbook, but we’re looking at The Future Architect’s Tool Kit, which builds on the first book with a series of exercises. I chose it because it comes with doodads, and I like doodads: the book, a pencil, eraser, architect’s scale and graph paper. Tools for designing. Doodads.
Starting with explanations of the different types of plans: floor plans, site plans, elevation, and so on – architect Barbara Beck gives the whys and wherefores of choosing a site, the kind of building you want (she uses a house) and the types of rooms you want. It’s not too advanced – it’s for kids, right? – but does address certain real-life details. So, using the graph paper, not only can the kid determine how long or high the house will be, but they’ll also have to think about how thick the walls are, or whether or not the city will let them build that high. They’re encouraged to make a model (out of cardboard), and – best of all – to design buildings for a variety of clients with specific needs: hobbits, a wheelchair-bound dog who plays soccer, a T-rex who likes to read, to name a few. They are instructed to keep a portfolio of all their work, and to offer around their design services to friends and family members.
What part of any of this would you not want your kid to try? I think it’s genius. Did I mention it comes with graph paper? That right there saves you a trip to Staples.
Or you can just let your kid keep staring out that window, making turtles out of clouds.
Beck also designs dog houses that you will appreciate more than your dog.