The first day in an architecture or design college is mostly spent going around campus and sketching random objects of your interest. The countless site visits are not just in the spirit of entertaining us but also in the spirit of opening oneself. I remember going to the Sarkej Roza, a mosque in Ahmedabad during these first few days. The visit to the old city of Ahmedabad was not just for us to make friends and chatter around but also to look at these mundane structures differently. One of the few things we do not learn in schools in the Indian education system is design thinking.

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How are the formative years of architecture important to develop design thinking?

Design thinking is something I believe can be developed. The formative years in an architecture institution or architecture are meant to open our senses to the environment and to develop design thinking. But the question arises, how can one develop something they have never been taught before? Here are a few ways that I believe help in developing design thinking while I share anecdotes.

  • The more you read, the more ideas your brain gets, the more you think.

During the first few years of the design studio, I had a faculty who made us read a book and write a book review on the book we read. At first, the exercise seems like an English assignment.  Reading design books helps develop design vocabulary and also opens us to various ideas explored by great designers. Reading in any form is always a knowledgeable experience. Design books with the help of the various visuals are more entertaining to read as well as have a lot to tell. And of course, the use of design language can give bonus points during a jury. 

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  • Doing is rewarding.

I remember being hesitant to explore certain thoughts in my head. The whole point of learning about design is to put your thoughts into action and then onto a paper or a model. The more you do, the more your teachers are happy and the more criticism you get to work on it further.

  • Trial and error is the only way.

We have all heard the famous REDO in architecture colleges. The first few times we hear this, it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth but it’s more about gulping that and doing something to make your work better. The only way to know if you are able to do as you think is by doing and so the grind to keep redoing your work is something important for design thinking. 

  • Explore, Explore and Explore.

While most education confines themself to their course and textbook, architectural design helps us go out and unwind in various ways. Remember how I went to Sarkej Roza? Going out and exploring new places even within your city can be exciting not just in terms of finding new places to see or even just seeing the old spaces differently. The exploration does not have to be limited to just going out but can also be through various online videos etc.

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  •  The simplest of things could solve your problem.

A lot of the design studios give a prerequisite brief in terms of the site, the area, etc. It is not always about going for the extraordinary things in these sites but the simpler things that make a good design. The idea that design is about aesthetics and different things is not entirely true.

Although design thinking is always evolving, keeping oneself open to learning new trends, technology is very important. Design thinking may come naturally to some but is something that can be developed through reading through just paying attention to details. The main motivation behind design thinking in a way is to understand why things are the way they are not just in terms of society but also in terms of providing solutions to the problems. 


Sreenidhi is a young architect learning to combine the knowledge of architecture with writing. She is a pass out from Institute of Architecture and Planning, Nirma University and has varied interests in the field of Architecture. Her primary interests revolve around sustainable design techniques and the relationship between cinema and architecture.

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