Lesson for a lifetime

As a young adult I learned this saying “The man who builds a house is prepared to live his life” and I always thought it was a metaphor. But this summer, in the EmpowerHouse project, we went from a paper design to a real-world house and indeed, the experience prepared us for the life ahead.

Like many architects or designers, we don’t often get involved in the actual construction of a house. Sure we know about beams, columns, insulation, caulking, taping, etc. but it turned out that when faced with having to use actual power tools and plan three steps ahead, even building a square box was a challenge.

When you’re a student, having the opportunity to be involved in a real-world project is great. On the original site, in Hoboken, NJ we learned hands-on and we were given the leeway of not having to perform a task to professional-grade from the very first try. But by learning from mistakes and working harder than a seasoned professional we eventually got it right. This non-pressure-to-perform work environment gave us the confidence that we can actually build what we design. Just look all the paper projects presented out there waiting to become alive. Unfortunately, most of them are only creative exercises that takes many hours just to put them together on the paper. Due to their lack of real grounds, people see them as pure objects of the imagination and their potential of becoming reality gets lost.

Building a house involves a lot of planning, discipline, communication skills, and awareness not unlike any other major experience in life. In other words, having had this experience as students we are now ready not only to build a house but for life in general.

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