Architecture practices in India have been on a steady decline since the 1990s. With capitalism on the rise and the expansion of urban centres, one would only assume that healthy competition is being fostered among young upcoming architects. On the contrary, young architects are facing the highest rate of unemployment, unfair wages, no wages in some cases, ungodly overtime and toxic workplace cultures. It is rare to come across architects who have a decent work culture in their offices at this point. 

To understand what led to this bleak reality of today, one must go back and look at the history of architectural practices in India and how we landed here. 

Revolutionising architecture practices in India: Addressing the pressing need for workload and payroll reforms - Sheet1

The formation of the Council of Architecture and the Architects Act

The Architects Act was enacted by the Indian Parliament in 1972, spearheaded by Parliamentarian Piloo Mody to provide for the registration of architects and the standards of education in the field of architecture. The primary objective of the Architects Act is to ensure that architectural education and practice in India adhere to established standards, promoting the welfare of architects and protecting the interests of the public. The Architects Act led to the establishment of the Council of Architecture (COA) as a statutory body in 1972.

COA was created as the national regulatory authority for the architecture profession, with the responsibility of prescribing standards for architectural education and practice. To protect its vested interests, the Council has failed to uphold any of its responsibilities and duties, inadvertently allowing free reign of illegal and unethical practices rampant across the whole industry. 

Revolutionising architecture practices in India: Addressing the pressing need for workload and payroll reforms - Sheet2

Decline in quality and creativity

Post-independent India’s architecture had so much promise and potential. The works of Charles Correa, BV Doshi, Raj Rewal, Laurie Baker and more are studied to this day because of their clever use of context-based design and their simple solutions to complex vernacular problems riddled within our Indian society. The 1960s were considered the Golden Era of Indian architecture. Our architects were putting India on the map, going head to head against behemoths of the Western world. 

All that zeal and passion has been lost in this losing war against unchecked corrupt practices. Most architects either succumb to these circumstances or fail. The circumstances have led to architects having to undercut all their competitors. In bidding wars, the ones who quote the least wins, but at what cost? At the cost of their employees having to succumb to the pressure. Egregious working hours, personal sacrifice, neglecting health issues, unpaid overtime, salary reductions, unpaid internships and inadequate salaries are not just appreciated but expected in studios across the nation. All while the principal architects bag most of the profits and the juniors are left to fight over the leftover crumbs. The “studio culture” is glorified and comparisons are made to college life where pulling all-nighters ahead of submissions was the norm. Under the crumbling pressure of all the above circumstances, young architects who are at the bottom of the ladder in terms of knowledge regarding the actual execution of designs are expected to come up with nuanced design solutions daily. 

Revolutionising architecture practices in India: Addressing the pressing need for workload and payroll reforms - Sheet3

The gap between professional practice and education 

In 1972 there were a total of 12 colleges in India, now the number has risen to a whopping 463 approved schools of architecture. Approximately 24,000 architects graduate every year in India after spending lakhs of rupees on their education to get jobs paying meagre amounts of 15-20k. Every decision taken by universities is just to ensure a growing steady flow of wealth. Prestigious private institutes raise double their fees within a year without any explanation or reason. However, the one area that most colleges are ready to sacrifice is the quality of education. Degrees and qualifications matter a lot more than skills in the hiring process of professors. Very few professors know how to execute a project on-site, which leads to the biggest disconnect between professional practice and education. This disconnect becomes even more glaring once these thousands of fresh architects enter the world of professional practices.


Responsibilities of multitudes of multidisciplinary practices

The architect has to bear the burden of taking full responsibility for work being done by a plethora of varying disciplines. Knowledge of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, structure, materials, tiles, etc are key to designing functioning buildings. Immaculate knowledge of all the above disciplines is expected from architects of all levels. Despite the steep learning curve, very little room for error is allowed by most firms. Perfection and meticulousness are expected and despite all these measures being taken, so many iconic buildings are unliveable due to poorly designed services. We are going wrong somewhere. 

The problems are so deep-rooted and complicated at this point that changes need to be made at the grassroots level for years, to solve even a few. All these responsibilities trickle down from the highest level, down to the bottom of the ladder, on young architects. So many promising young architects are forced to leave the field due to lack of familial financial backing, inflation and criminally low salaries. It is time for action. It is time for a massive shift in the way we design and practice architecture in this country. It is time for people in positions of power to protect promising talent and maintain the standard of architecture to bring the legacy of Indian architecture and make it worth something in this Globalised world.



Sneha is a writer with a passion for literature and history. Her love for these subjects shines through in their writing, which is both informative and engaging. With a knack for storytelling and a deep understanding of the past, Sneha creates narratives that transport readers to different times and places. Her work experience has given her the ability to explain complex ideas in an accessible way, as well as the ability to work effectively with a wide range of people.