Designer, why designer? Part 3 – Bath Uni

‘Designer’ why designer? a story with lots of twists and turns, with some what might seem completely random career choices. But no I had a plan, and it’s just coming together!

My first attempt at being a Uni student would mark my life forever and not just for the drunken, karate style dancing which scared the girls and complexed me off the dance floor for good. Part of me was quite excited but another part of me was shitting itself. I had been left home alone once before, when I was 16 the rest of the family went on a six week holiday to New Zealand, but then the freezer had been left rammed to the max and I was still at ‘home’.

Whoever came up with the idea that ten 18 year old lads living together in a housing block would not hinder their education was way off the mark! They were either incredibly optimistic or had never actually lived in halls of residence. We had a great time having food fights, water fights, playing Nintendo, raiding the girls blocks, going on pub crawls, I am just not sure that we learnt much. I could hardly get my key in the door on most nights, so if you can believe that the next day’s, structures lecture registered somewhere in my alcohol damaged brain then you should link up with the people who organize the housing at Bath University.

The first week of the Architecture course was all about bonding and team building, after all we were going to be together for the next million years so it was thought a good idea that we should make friends. The first task; in teams of six we had to scavenge whatever materials we could find on the campus to build a shelter which we could all fit in. In principle it was a great idea and one which I loved the sound of. During the holidays with my mate Mackie we would often hike across Dartmoor and build makeshift bivouacs out of old trees and bin bags. The problem with doing this task with six architect wannabes is too many egos to please; it’s the old classic ‘too many cooks spoil the shelter’. Add in the rather tetchy Japanese exchange student who wanted to rule the empire, and well, a simple task is turned into an Italian town planning meeting; lots of hand waving and performances worthy of the West End. What was truly amazing was that our, what can only be described as a tramps Wendy house won the design part of the competition.

Task number two was far more technical, well I guess anything is more technical than designing and building Wendy houses. We had to design and make a model bridge to span the river just behind the campus. I haven’t been clear; we didn’t have to build a full size model to actually cross the river, that would have been a health and safety nightmare, especially in our mostly hung-over states. No, it was just a 1: 50 scale model. Just my luck I got lumbered with old grumpy pants the Last Emperor and a grass smoking, way too laid back hippy (ok, so I’m exaggerating a little, but he did have a denim jacket with fur in it). The Japanese guy took the whole think far too seriously and delegated tasks, he was going to do the free hand sketches and bridge plans, this left the model to me and old hippy boy.

The Emperor’s big mistake was not insisting on progress meetings (the project lasted 4 days) and we only met once to take his bridge plans. The look on his and the course director’s faces when we revealed our model were priceless. I had spent the last three days out discovering the local countryside on my bike and hippy boy had been as high as a kite. The result being a last minute, late night, beer fuelled, papier-mâché and lollypop stick atrocity.

It didn’t take me long to work out that architecture was not really my cup of tea, and it had nothing to do with being leaned on by the Japanese Mafia. To tell the whole truth I just didn’t have the brains or the balls. I mean you’ve got to be pretty bright to handle all that physics and structures complicated stuff and then have the balls to be able to sell your ‘wonky Wendy house’ idea to the customer. I also had a burning desire to race my bike in France which meant the Uni lifestyle had to go. I wrote my dad a long letter (yes I am old, it was before texting and emails) explaining how I wanted to chase my biking dream and in a flash I was being airlifted out, leaving behind my first Uni experience after just 2 months. The road ahead was now clear and I was soon heading to Provence, France for a truly great experience.

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