Day 1_Ice Breaking activity: ‘Architecture’ Heads Up Game

Twenty years of teaching architectural design and not a single ‘Day 1′ without feeling excited… First impressions are important, but I am not referring so much to the stage as to the content: how to transmit the passion for architecture and the luckiness of teaching it without overwhelming students? Last Monday, once again, it was a real pleasure to meet my students, try to imagine what their expectations are, and launch a new studio to try to make them live the best possible learning experience. I must admit that I was looking for the students’ records at the university’s website (their photos and names) while trying to imagine what they would be like… but nothing is as rewarding as meeting them in the classroom.

Current circumstances are claiming social distancing, and Spanish universities impose many sanitary measures to prevent any outbreak of COVID 19: everyone must have their fixed workspace, conveniently separated more than 1.5 m, masks are mandatory both in the classroom and all campus areas (even outside!).

The studio’s first day is usually based on mutual introductions (round of short questions) and some activity to break the ice. In previous years, the ‘Architectural Pictionary‘ had worked perfectly (and the students had raised high sugar level with the candy jar), but this time, something had to be devised without contact, without paper, with absolutely nothing physical to share.

I proposed an architectural adaptation of the well-known game Heads Up. We did an outdoor session (yes, on the campus lawn), where the students played in pairs receiving the specific card that their partner was ‘supposedly’ wearing on their heads. We played with two series of cards: ‘Famous Buildings’ and ‘Famous Architects’ (paying special attention to an equal number of female and male architects).

“Am I a building? Am I located in Spain? Am I very big?”
“Am I an architect? Am I a female architect? Am I alive?…”

And we had a lot of fun…