Architecture has undergone a radical transformation in the past couple of years. The architectural curriculum on the other hand is just on the brink of transformation. The syllabus is rigid and traditional and whilst there is nothing wrong with learning the basics, it could become more inclusive and flexible to incorporate the requirements of today, making it more relevant and responsive to the opportunities presented in society at present.
The architectural curriculum, in my opinion, could be tapered to equip students better to face what the future has in store for them and the subjects/ electives that I think should become a part of the syllabi are as follows:
1. Architectural Psychology | Architectural Curriculum
So, much of what we learn as students is how to understand better the needs and requirements of different societies across the many cultures and climates around the globe, but at its very core, we aspire to understand the needs and wants of the human mind. The human psyche has a major role to play in uncovering this data.
We intend to create the very world that humanity is to inhabit and we cannot do so without understanding how the human mind works. Questions such as how different shapes and colors, spatial confinements, proportions and technologies affect human behavior are just the tip of the iceberg but nevertheless examples of how integral it becomes for us to understand the impact of architecture on human psychology.
One of the most alluring thoughts about this course is the idea of having one’s own firm/ office at some point in their career. The very thought of this opportunity is liberating, to say the least, and a dream for many who pursue architecture.
However, the architectural curriculum does not seem to have any subjects to teach and guide one in entrepreneurship thus leaving us very clueless about how to go about the process once having graduated.
3. Project/ Site Management
Most of the knowledge received in architecture college is theoretical and that in no way prepares us for what’s to come after passing out of college. There is an enormous amount of pressure that is put on producing drawings that are technically sound but our jobs in real life extend way beyond that.
As a professional out in the field, one is required to interact with several people in and out of office to successfully help realize the completion of a project. One has to constantly supervise and make sure that nothing goes wrong and this is not something that comes very naturally to a person and most definitely not something that one is exposed to during college.
4. Presentation Skills
Software knowledge is held in very high regard and that is precisely what helps us curate the portfolios that we send out to companies that we wish to work in. Developing a sense of aesthetic is something that is expected of us to learn on our own and whilst it comes naturally to some, it really does not come easy to many people.
Mastering different software takes up a lot of one’s time and being able to present it beautifully becomes a challenge for many. Everyone has a unique personality that is reflected in their set of drawings and presentation boards but a simple set of guidelines to help get us started would fast-track a lot of time and effort spent in learning it on our own.
5. Portfolio Building | Architectural Curriculum
Making a portfolio is nothing short of a work of art. It goes without saying that one needs to have a stronghold over the knowledge of many software to attempt this but despite that, it becomes a challenge because there is just too much freedom and not enough information about how to go about building one’s portfolio.
In order to get into aspiring firms, the portfolio must stand out but it becomes a tedious process of trial and error figuring out what works and does not without the know-how of even the basics of making a portfolio.
6. Architectural Photography
The many students pursuing architecture get exposed to a multitude of dimensions that the subject offers and one of those variants is photography. Architectural photography is a viable career option that can consciously be pursued and I cannot think of a reason why it should not find a place in the architectural curriculum.
Learning the skill of photography lends valuable knowledge apart from the obvious helping one build a sense of aesthetic. Many, who realize their potential in it, would find the appropriate guidance needed to hone their skill and highlight it as an additional skill set in their respective portfolios giving them leverage over other candidates.
7. Architectural Writing | Architectural Curriculum
Last but not the least; I strongly feel the need to make architectural writing a part of the architectural curriculum. Just like Architectural Photography, there are many who are talented and seemingly express themselves beautifully through writing but the subject has much more to offer everybody instead of the usual misunderstanding that it is only meant for those who are linguistically talented.
Right from being a student in college to a professional in the field, an architect is always required to explain what it is that they have designed/ created/ is proposing/ pitching, right from their faculty at college to their clients in the office. Architectural writing helps one understand design in a much more comprehensible manner. With having read a lot about designs, design philosophies, critical analysis‟ of people’s work and having developed an analytical sense by themselves, conveying the idea/ concept becomes easier, hence convincing the juror/ client for that matter also becomes easier.
Not being able to convince or getting one’s ideas across to people has been a common problem faced by many architecture students. This problem stems from various reasons – it could be stage fright, nervousness, lack of vocabulary or fluency in a language, insufficient knowledge, etc. The solution to nerves is nothing but practice and continuous exposure but how architectural writing helps one is by giving one a deeper understanding of the design and its origin, thus answering not just the how but also the why and that is what helps one not only understand design better but also explain it with ease.
The architectural curriculum inevitably needs to adapt to accommodate more options to help students determine which exact niche they want to work in if not mainstream architecture and prepare them better for the professional world. There is a gap that exists between what the presiding curriculum teaches students and what is expected of them in the real world and closing in on that gap requires definite changes such as refining the curriculum to ensure that students are better prepared for what’s to come.