Rituals: crit

Notorious among the rituals is the design jury (crit), a strange act of tribal initiation that is played out in schools around the world. Within weeks of arriving in architecture school, students are asked to pin up an initial, and usually clumsy, attempt at architecture on a wall, stand in front of it and talk about it, with tutors then taking the floor to criticize it. The word alone, crit, is a stab of negativity. The crit places into a pressure cooker a combination of potentially explosive ingredients: students catatonic with tiredness and fear, tutors (mainly male) charged on power and adrenaline, and an adversarial arena in which actions are as much about showing o= as they are about education. Some students survive this; some are deeply scarred by the experience. One of the mistaken arguments for the retention of the crit is that it prepares for the real world—but at what cost? Answer: the development of alien vocabularies (spoken and drawn) understood only by architects, arrogance (attack being seen as the best form of defense in a crit), and a complete inability to listen on the part of both tutor and student.

Jeremy Till, Architecture Depends (2009)


Hein Koh: School of Art (2006)