Tim Offer Architects
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Architecture Home School | Architect Friends

Many of us around the UK are getting used to having the kids around a little more, and are beginning to understand how amazing our schools and teachers are to keep our kids occupied and learning everyday.

To help you survive this time I will be posting a series of architecture related activities to get your kids thinking about the world around them. These are projects I will be doing with my kids over the coming weeks. I intend that anyone could do these projects – no special skills are required. Hopefully you may learn something on the journey too!

This is not about training to be architects; its more a crash course in looking, analysing, problem solving and participation that may help to understand your environment better. These are skills we architects use everyday to help us to create settings that can promote meaningful relationships with the environment and wider society.

The exercises will draw on my experience teaching degree level architecture courses, and a couple of useful books: Utzon’s Universe by Malene Abildgaard and Julie Dufour, and 101 Things I learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick.

This week there are two projects.  The first is an exercise that we used to run with first year degree students on their first day in studio: Architect Friends.

You will need:

A big piece of paper (as tall and as wide as you) – old wallpaper or wrapping paper works well, or you can stick smaller sheets together.

A tape measure or measuring rod

A ruler

A pencil and other basic stationary

Your eyes!


You are going to draw a sibling (or carer) at 1:1 scale – that’s full size!  No tracing or drawing around them –  you need to use the tape measure to carefully measure them.  Pay careful attention to the proportions – how big is their head? how long are their arms? at what height is their shoulder?… Start by carefully setting out some key dimensions (top of head, chin, shoulder, hips, knees etc) and then fill in the detail.

To make it a bit more architectural we will do three drawings – A front elevation, a side elevation, and a plan (looking straight down from above).  Think about how these relate to one another and how you might use one drawing to help you create the others.

The idea is to look and measure really carefully.  One of the most important skills for an architect is to look carefully at the world around you and to develop a sense of the relative sizes of things – their proportions.  Lots of architects have been interested in the idea of ‘ideal’ proportions.  Look up the vitruvian man by Leonardo da Vinci or the Modular by le Corbusier.

The second task is Mini Me.

You will need:

A camera

A basic photo editing programme so you can resize your photos

A printer

A pair of scissors or craft knife (adult supervision required)


You are going to make some mini versions of yourself that you will use in some of the projects in future weeks.  We need these to be at certain scales so you will need a little bit of maths to help.

First take a couple of photos of yourself: standing and sitting.  Make sure that the photos are taken straight on – the camera should be at around the same height as your belly button so the photo isn’t distorted.

Measure your height, and then convert it into different scales.  Some of the most common scales that architects use are 1:100, 1:50, and 1:20.  This means that we draw things 100 times smaller than real life, 50 times smaller, or 20 times smaller.  To convert your height into these scales divide it by 100, 50 and 20.

You now need to print out your photos at the sizes you worked out above.  Now you have your mini me’s at 1:100, 1:50 and 1:20.  You can cut these out and put them in models and drawings over the coming weeks.  Leave a little tab at the bottom to help them stand up.  Maybe you could find some containers around your home to make into little houses for them!

We would love to see what you get up to – post photos of your architect friends and mini-me’s on Instagram using #ArchitectureHomeSchool

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