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The Hip Hop Architecture Camp: Should You Apply?


Hip Hop Architecture Camp is a unique chance to explore architecture, urban planning, and design through the unique, interactive lens of hip-hop culture. In this week-long experience, you’ll dive into basic architectural concepts like form, volume, structure, and site using your favorite songs, lyrics, and artists as inspiration. Professionals from a variety of fields, including architects, dancers, DJs, and activists will guide you as you use these concepts to create a physical and digital model of a city, as well as a rap and music video about your design.


Each camp has a curriculum specifically designed for its city– this past year, locations included Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Hartford. You'll have a chance to reimagine your own community and examine how the spaces you see every day intersect with social justice and racial equity. You’ll learn why architecture is about more than construction- it's about culture, and what better way to curate that culture than with art? Expect a deeply creative journey that encourages critical thinking, teamwork, and self-expression, all while incorporating music, dance, and history!



Who is eligible to participate in Hip Hop Architecture Camp?


6th to 12th graders, especially from underrepresented groups (minority backgrounds, etc.) are eligible to participate.


What is the cost of attending Hip Hop Architecture Camp?


Good news– this program is completely free!


Other perks:

-Top projects created during the camp receive a Hip Hop Architecture Camp Prize Pack which includes $100 gift cards, headphones, merch, and more!

-Hip Hop Architecture Camp x MillerKnoll Scholarship ($10,000) for college-bound seniors.

-Hip Hop Architecture Camp x Bergmeyer Scholarship and Internship ($1,500 and one week paid internship in Boston) for public school juniors and accredited college-bound seniors. Students must have participated in a previous camp.


Is Hip Hop Architecture Camp considered prestigious?


Hip Hop Architecture is not a selective program, and has no specific acceptance criteria for all those eligible. It operates on a first-come first-serve basis until each camp hits capacity (usually ~25). As such, it is less prestigious than more competitive alternatives like Cornell's pre-college or UC Berkeley's embARC program. If you’re looking for prestige, consider applying to an immersion program.


Should you attend Hip Hop Architecture Camp?


Pros

  1. You’ll get an insight into the design Hip Hop Architecture offers an immersive opportunity to engage with the design process in a holistic way. You'll learn the foundational principles of architecture, but more importantly, you’ll experience the iterative nature of the creative process. Through critique sessions and constructive feedback exchanges, you'll develop a keen understanding of how design evolves through continuous refinement. This exposure to back-and-forth interactions with mentors and peers mirrors the real-world architectural discourse, where ideas are shaped by collaboration.

  2. You’ll develop interdisciplinary skills The fusion of architecture with hip-hop is a great way to acquire interdisciplinary skills while still embracing a sense of uniqueness and enjoyment. As you walk the bridge between these two (seemingly disparate) worlds, you'll develop a versatile skill set that spans both creative disciplines. You’ll think beyond traditional boundaries, foster a capacity for innovative problem-solving, and practice adaptability. Not to mention, colleges always reward a diverse and culturally aware mindset!

  3. You’ll learn to think through and address social issues through architecture This camp tackles historic inequity from the dual perspective of architecture and music. This unique confluence will teach you about the complex intersections between equity, the environment, and the inhabitant. By immersing yourself in discussions of racial equity, social justice, and the importance of diversity, you will underscore your commitment to positive societal change. Admissions committees will recognize this as potential for you to be a responsible, impactful student.

  4. You’ll meet a lot of successful people and build a network Hip Hop Architecture connects students with professionals in several industries, from architects and urban planners to community activists, rappers, and DJs. Mentors include Mike Ford, Grandwizzard Theodore (inventor of the scratch!), Lupe Fiasco, and so many others. You’ll be exposed to different viewpoints and life experiences, and build personal relationships. Cultivating a robust professional network is invaluable, and can open doors to potential mentorship, support, and one day maybe even a job referral!


Cons

  1. You won’t gain practical experience Hip Hop Architecture’s curriculum is, in its effort to be interdisciplinary, quite disconnected from pure architecture. If you’re looking for a specialized, in-depth simulation of the field (or a way to demonstrate this on your college application) this music-driven workshop might fall short. Universities will likely require tangible proof of academic growth, such as software proficiency or portfolio development. We’ve shortlisted some other architecture programs and internships for you to consider here!

  2. You won’t get extended immersion through this program The condensed timeline might mean limited depth and rushed learning. It’s not a practical step forward if you're trying to develop comprehensive skills or get exposure to advanced topics like sustainability. After all, architecture is a test of endurance! It’s just one of those things you need to invest time into, and one week can only allow you to scratch the surface.

  3. You may not add much prestige value to your college application Although Hip Hop Architecture’s unique mission and outreach efforts have been greatly successful, the program is young. In the context of top colleges, it lacks the prestige and competitiveness of a well-established program, and as such will not boost your resume as dramatically as some other alternatives.


All of this is not to say that this camp won’t be an enriching experience, or that it won’t positively impact your college application. It’s just a reminder to mindfully assess your summer goals and the message you want this extracurricular to convey. As a general guideline:


I would recommend Hip Hop Architecture if you are:

  1. Wondering if you might enjoy architecture, urban planning, or architectural history and looking for a fun/unique way to learn more

  2. Passionate about music and its impact on your environment

  3. Passionate about your community and its betterment


Reconsider Hip Hop Architecture if you are:

  1. Already sure you want to pursue architecture, urban planning, or architectural history and looking for practice/hands-on experience

  2. Skill-building to prepare for architecture school

  3. Portfolio or resume-building for architecture school applications. Instead, check out Ladder Internships or the Lumiere Research Scholar Program!


One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded by researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Neha is a current senior at Rice University studying Architecture with a minor in Mathematics. She loves crochet, thrifting, and Taylor Swift, and is excited to help Lumiere’s students find their passion!


Image Source: Hip Hop Architecture Camp logo

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