Abstract Physical design studio has been the mainstream method of architectural pedagogy for more than a century. Although the past two decades have brought forth emerging possibilities via advancements in digital communication, Virtual Design Studio (VDS) remained an experimental novelty until 2020. The interruption of face-to-face educational activities saw architecture schools facing a rapid paradigm shift because their studio-centred pedagogy retains intrinsic spatial qualities that are often attributed as critical dimensions of the learning process. This article explores the transition to the virtual design studio in a department of architecture after distance education became mainstream due to the global pandemic. The paper provides a comparison between students’ and lecturers’ points of view regarding different aspects of the virtual design studio. This addresses a potential generational gap concerning digital communication in a case study. A survey was administered to a group of architecture students who travelled back home and continued their education online and to the teachers of design studios who instructed VDS after the pandemic outbreak. The findings show the significant influence of effective communication, access to proper resources, maintenance of peer connections, and group works on the positive outcomes of the architectural design studio.