"I wonder if studio will remember us like we will remember it."Photo courtesy of Henry Aldridge

Housing the strange subculture that is architecture, Scroope Terrace has been the home of me and my fellow architects for the past three years. Of course, we all have our respective colleges, but with many days spent entirely in the confines of studio, it has come to define our time at Cambridge. As studio’s neurotic inhabitants are undoubtedly currently questioning whether to write their dissertation in 10pt Helvetica or 12pt Palatino, all I can think about is my time in studio itself.

Love Letters to Cambridge

These are tough and uncertain times for us all, and a lot of us are left with little closure. Varsity are launching this series to give a platform to students reflecting on the parts of Cambridge they'll miss the most, and to gain some closure through writing. Just email our Features team with a 150-word pitch with your idea!

The first-year build project was the first time we came together as a year. Building rickety timber structures in Queens’ while the snow fell brought with it a strange solidarity. Hiding from the cutting wind in the undercroft of the Erasmus building, friendships were built that last to this day. We’re still designing buildings that look suspiciously like parts of Queens’. The study trip to Naples, whole-year pres for ARCSOC, en masse trips to the pub: having such a small year-group allowed us to do everything as one.

On the subject of ARCSOC, it always meant so much more to architects. Where everyone else saw a club-night defined by techno and tinfoil, for us it was an opportunity to see friends away from the department and the fruition of weeks of building questionable cardboard decorations. Time and time again, it was building that brought us together, something about the joint struggle of convincing materials to work with us. People hardly knew how to hold a saw back in Queens’; now we’re all collaborating to build furniture and models in new ways for our events.

"With many of us spending around 12 hours a day together in the space, an idiosyncratic collective sense of humour evolved."Henry Aldridge

Of course, for us as architects, this is the biggest loss as a result of the ongoing situation: our summer exhibition in London is in real jeopardy. Its outward function is to serve as an advert for students, to get jobs. But, in reality, it’s always acted as a celebration of our year, with us rigorously planning displays before June’s build week. This entails summer days of building tables in the courtyard, punctuated by trips to the Post Office for ice cream. Lying on the grass in the balmy evenings during the ARCSOC garden party. Sitting on the fire escape, beer in hand, and watching the exhibition being constructed before our eyes.

All of this is before the exhibition itself, an event that always takes place in a worn-out warehouse in London. It always involves scrambling around central London for a hardware shop, setup bringing together all the year groups before launch night. A night featuring a student-led bar and architectural conversations under the yellow London night sky, it was the big conclusion to the ARCSOC calendar. Strolling around our models in shorts and t-shirts, I remember drunkenly asking my tutor for a job before telling him all of his catchphrases. It’s a great night all round.

“...it was the everyday of working in studio that really defined our days.”

But, while these were all fun little distractions, it was the everyday of working in studio that really defined our days. With many of us spending around 12 hours a day together in the space, an idiosyncratic collective sense of humour evolved. Shouting impressions of tutors and students across the tables, studio was a place to hang out more than work at times. A disco ball hung from the ceiling near the speaker that inexplicably always seemed to be playing Kanye or MF DOOM. A scooter was rescued from a nearby skip to be used as a communal means of transport when spying on the other years.

The studio all-nighter brought with it a whole new atmosphere. As studio filled with the strangely tangy scent of stress, trips to the vending machine were the only way to stay awake as the deadlines loomed. People hid away in other rooms around the department to get more space, commandeering projectors for impromptu Netflix parties while working.

Naturally, there was a degree of hierarchy among the years. Third years get control of the music and apparently get to shout ‘SHUT UP’ at other years when they’re a little too cheerful. We also get to send the infamous ‘studio opening emails’ in which incredibly convoluted memes get sent to the entire undergraduate body. In first year, we idolised the then-third-years and still talk about them to this day. Jokes still go around about how they laughed strangely or played drum and bass incessantly. I wonder if studio will remember us like we will remember it.


Mountain View

A farewell to Fitz

Here are some other things I’ll miss: Eating lunch together in the gallery while gazing at people casting in the courtyard. The awkward wave to tutors when seeing them having lunch at Judge Business School. The strange sound the lights made before they came on. The taste of water from the tap in the kitchen. That weird tiny toilet in the corridor to studio.

And, of course, switching the lights off at 11pm before the lonely cycle to college through a silent Cambridge.