Faced with the complex task of learning to become critical thinkers through problem-based learning, architecture students (especially in earlier years of their education) are often left navigating the ill-defined and tacit learning process and environment of architectural design studio. The physical studio environment is often the place where informal, tacit and peer-learning occurs outside of the formalized teaching of tutoring. The importance of the studio space has become even more present during the pandemic and home-learning. Subsequently, chance encounters and impromptu knowledge sharing has not been possible between students. Thus, this paper intends to outline and discuss a case study of how a ‘critical friend’ system based on critical pedagogies has been established to not only be the emotional support but also as a sparring partner offering candid feedback and fostering critical thinking both in everyday and extreme circumstances. This small addition to normal student teaching has not only aided in peer-to-peer learning but also created a safe and supportive learning environment.