The article will enlist and delve into 10 unconventional avenues other than the architectural practice that architecture students can pursue after graduation (B.Arch) that could potentially make appropriate use of their skills and introduce new ways of collaboration between disciplines, expand the reaches of the architectural community and create opportunities for higher income generation. 

10 alternatives to Architectural Practice for Graduates
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1. Interior Design

Architectural education encompasses the study of the built form, concepts, structural science, and specifications of materials, all of which could be utilized in the design of interior spaces with the focus directed at designing innovative and aesthetically appealing details, textures, and finishes. The act involves a rescaling of spatial understanding, and a need to transform enclosures into desirable ambiances. The interior design profession is often characterized by shorter time frames of execution and more freedom and flexibility concerning design laws and building regulations. It is also a considerably more lucrative career path that is available to architectural professionals with a penchant for unconventional designs that the market welcomes. 

2. Exhibition Design: An Alternative to Architectural Practice

Spaces that require a format to exhibit and create an experiential journey for the visitor need the expert knowledge and experience of a designer with an aptitude for creating a platform that best represents the intention behind the exhibits. Ranging from display boards to transient, transformative routes, the field entails the use of additional apparatus such as lighting to visually enhance the presentation style. Singular modules are created with skeletal frames and partitions which are replicated, anticipating incremental growth to accommodate a variety of scales in the exhibited works. The principles of design in action are derived from design theory and the basics of structures and forms that architects are well acquainted with. The design milieu transcends restrictive notions of context, making the creation of artistic, otherworldly, and unconventional forms feasible, acceptable and ingenious. 

3. Civic Design: An Alternative to Architectural Practice

The rise in demographics and unmitigated development increasing densities in the built fabric is saturating small towns and cities today, applying enormous pressure on regional natural resources. In this context, it is creditable to consider alternate solutions that passively assist the urban structure creating ripple effects from the site of application to multiple sites of the outcome. These catalysts of urban change are essential to creating room for the growth of design and construction industries in the foreseeable future, which at present are hindered by myriad obstacles and unintended consequences of archaic societal structures and habitational practices. The tension created between the societal strata that strives for rapid progress and that which is consumed by fear of venturing out from one’s comfort zone and established norms is slowing collective efforts that endeavor to bridge the gap. To accelerate this process, the architect’s role as a facilitator between urban inhabitants and government officials is crucial to introduce minuscule changes in the existing urban fabric. The key here is to not build but to intervene surgically, repair, readjust and adapt. 

4. Furniture and Product Design

Architects have always been known to influence the design of public and residential furniture that translates the conceptual framework of the built environment to a human, relational scale. Furniture is that aspect of the built form that the user directly interacts with, giving a sense of the design principles at work. Minimalistic monoliths, assembled, modular, orthogonal forms or curvatures are expressed through benches, chairs, tables, and settees through a combination of materials, elements, and textures. With office buildings and multi-residential housing increasingly being standardized, the field of furniture and product design remains relatively flexible and sacred that accommodates a range of possibilities and opportunities for innovative forms and techniques to flourish. The design of furniture in institutions is well integrated with architectural design, often functioning as a part of the whole. These abstract and simplified translations are multifunctional and make the work of the designer accessible to the user. The design of products encourages the designer to venture into realms that traditionally exclude architects and is, therefore, an opportunity for the architectural community to enrich their knowledge and increase awareness and sensitivity in their practice. 

5. Illustration, Branding, and Graphic Design 

Architectural drawing and representational techniques form a substantial portion of design education. In practice, they are communicative tools that are tailored in regard to the target audience to effectively represent an idea, and alternatively, create a virtual ambiance of the designed space prior to execution. Architectural graphics is an art form in their own right and the process of design, a discursive method, relies primarily on the drawing. The drawing is representative of the rigor, character, aesthetic sensibilities, and design approach of the creator. Architects are committed to relaying the rhetoric of the image through a variety of media and as a result, their graphic skills are well developed, subtle, intuitive, and expressive, finding use in related disciplines including graphic design and illustration. They can be used to develop a brand image for an emerging business that crafts and conveys the message of the enterprise to a larger audience.

6. Virtual Environment Design

Moving images and 3D visualization are additional media used in architectural representation and communication. This leads to a keen interest in virtual reality and environments used in films, animated sequences, video games, and theatre sets. The design of fictional spaces provides an opportunity to realize alternate narratives situated in a historical or futuristic context, to transcend the limitations imposed by time and space, employ advanced technical rendering and artistic skills, and make the impossible, possible. The gaming and film industries promise incredibly lucrative careers for visual artists and it is safe to say that this is not willing to change given the current increased dependence on the virtual realm. 

7. Architectural Journalism

Architectural research and investigative journalism are based on similar concepts and methodologies of intensive research including fact-finding followed by the gradual composition of a narrative. They differ in terms of presentation as the former aims to build an argument, an urban morphological critique that challenges the status quo. Architecture school trains individuals to meticulously create a defense for a proposal, and that same knowledge and expertise could be utilized in writing about other architects, of the old masters, reinterpreting the body of work of well known and established professionals in the field, and to create a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their talent and ideas. The field combines the accuracy of reportage with the challenge of alternative solutions that address architectural and urban issues both locally and globally. It requires innovative thinking, a passion for details, and a belief in the ability of the written word to find meaning, enhance certain aspects of projects, and communicate the intention of spatial practices to a non-spatial audience. 

8. Historical Research: An Alternative to Architectural Practice

The documentation and publication of tangible and intangible heritage is a field that requires unwavering dedication and sustained interest in anthropology, sociology, and historical architecture, and urban space. In conjunction with the field of archaeology, architectural historians are committed to the discovery of undocumented sites, communities, habitats, and settlements with organic street patterns, and lifestyles and rituals that define these collectives. In addition, designers rely on historical precedents to guide a new proposal based on parameters such as existing site conditions, local climate, indigenous construction techniques, and social structures. A considerable part of undergraduate education is dedicated to recording from the site, creating a library of documented evidence that can potentially be used as teaching tools and provide a foundation for future innovation. Architectural graduates interested in history often venture into more traditional disciples like historical research to contribute to the existing genealogy of structures and catalog collected evidence, to maintain accurate records and inform future practice. 

9. Business Management

Architects are team leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators with the ability to spearhead practices drafting innovative solutions to contemporary issues. The field requires co-ordination and negotiation between a range of professionals other than architectural practice to create cohesive work environments and offer services that ensure customer satisfaction. As architectural professionals receive only a percentage of the profit generated, real estate management and business administration are increasingly becoming more attractive even for fresh graduates. 

10. Law and Urban Policy

Law, governance, and urban policy are the stick to the carrot in architectural and urbanistic practices. They require incredibly creative and inclusive methods to draft regulations encompassing a variety of disciplines and professionals engaged in building services, land management, environmental science, and city management. The power and potential of this discipline determine the fate of underused, derelict sites and projects, the transfer of ownership of private property and appropriation by the state, alteration in decisions made at the urban and metropolitan scales that affect cities, local communities, and governments. Architectural graduates who choose to focus on the governance of the architectural sites are sincere, ambitious, and invested in the practice for the long haul, seeking to create long-lasting impact and effect real change. 

Author

Trisha Sarkar is an architect and an urbanist with a foundation in fine art followed by a B.Arch from CEPT University, Ahmedabad, and a Master’s degree in City Design from the Royal College of Art, London.Her workharnesses the potential of architecture to inspire critical thought and instil sensitivity.

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