How to do an entire studio project in 5 days

The meeting with the partners was intense. Lots of loud exclamations of discontent, my own growing despair as I realised that all our work over the past three months had all been for nothing. We were entering the last month of a huge international competition that would be a big win for our company and yesterday the client had rejected our design. ‘Get them on the phone, tell them we can do it. They don’t like this design, we do another one’ the partner yelled at us, ‘we have five days until the next meeting, tell them Wednesday, we present new option’.

Five days. Four people – me, my project manager, one incredible 3D modeller, and a good-at-everything stern Russian architect. By the time the meeting was over at 8pm we had one sketch in hand and the tightest deadline ever. For the past three months we had all been working 12-hour days six days a week as the standard. And now we had 120 hours to redo everything we had already done with a new design.

The next five days were a total blur, working until well after midnight, coming in again early in the morning, the weekend dissolved into thin air as the four of us slugged away at our desks. A complete new set of plans, sections, elevations, diagrams and renders were produced. Wednesday 6pm came – the deadline for our new design – and our partners presented our work from the past five days to the client.

Sitting there at my desk with my team, we were asked to wait around to see what the client feedback was, I felt proud of what we had managed to produce: a sleek 100+ page document. All the diagrams, plans and renders looked better than some of the work I had handed in after a 12-week studio course at uni, and we had done it all in just five days. I’d had about 10 hours sleep over the last five days, but gosh I was proud of our work.

The meeting with the client ended, but we heard nothing from our partners. We all wanted to hear that the client had liked our design, so we could all go home and sleep for the next 2 days that we had been promised as compensation for our latest big effort. Half an hour after the meeting should have ended, still nothing. Nearly one hour after the meeting had ended we got word from our partners: the client had liked our updated design, but there were lots of changes that needed to be made before another meeting on Friday and we needed to get started on them right away. I wanted to cry. Everyone looked gaunt, exhausted and yet we still couldn’t go home.

During this internship I had often wished that I was back at uni, where a deadline was a deadline, where the end was certain, where you knew that after a certain moment you could go home and sleep, and where all these decisions were yours to make.

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