It is no news that architects are storytellers. Stories are something people enjoy listening to and a form of expression that people easily relate to whether it is something that was written thousands of years ago or something we see in a few seconds over social media. However, architecture and the built environment have become such a part of our lives that we are subconsciously attuned to using the spaces we use without noticing or realizing their effect on us. Imagine if the same buildings could talk and tell us their stories, wouldn’t we be able to appreciate them more often and be more conscious of their presence in our lives?
Architectural journalism is an approach by which architectural writers can recognize the language of the built environment and give them the deserved value by writing about them.
Remember the saying, “Pen is mightier than the sword?” Well, sometimes it can also be mightier than the spoken word.
What is Architectural Journalism?
Architectural Journalism is essentially the process of writing about architecture and design of the built environment in a manner that resonates with people from and even outside of the fraternity. The subject of Architecture itself is a huge umbrella that encompasses within it interior design, urban planning, landscape design, product design, art, and so on. Architectural journalism is about documenting everything related to these subjects through words. Its scope extends to writing project reviews, architect profiles, issues in architecture, architectural events or conferences, research papers, or even academic writing.
Simply put, through architecture, you see ideas and imaginations of designers become a reality, through architectural journalism you understand the impact of the built environment on you, how it subconsciously guides your actions.
“Maybe sometimes architecture needs to be communicated in silence- only in texts and words to really touch the hearts of those who wish to understand its magnificence.”
The Need for Architectural Journalism
Considering that we are surrounded by architecture or its allied fields, in all its various forms and scales- right from the urban level to the beautifully designed furniture in our homes, it is often overlooked and sometimes even forgotten or left abandoned. We may see it all around, but we barely take a moment to appreciate its beauty. Let alone a few iconic buildings that leave imprints on the mind of its viewers or users, a large majority that it caters to, doesn’t talk about it at all.
Architectural journalism doesn’t just talk about buildings, but also brings to light the issues related to architecture or urban design, helps to expand and grow our network, gives recognition to the architects and designers, gives updates about the relevant trends in the industry, educates budding architects about important things they need to know about architecture, gives information about new materials and construction techniques and so on. Architectural journalism is important, especially in the current times as it makes one understand things related to architecture that haven’t been talked about before. It is the best way to make people outside of the fraternity engage with the built environment and make them more sensitive towards it.
Role of an Architectural Journalist
Architectural journalists have the power to make you read the built environment. As an architectural journalist, you don’t have to visit a building and write an essay full of good vocabulary to impress your readers. It is not that simple. Architecture or design is something that is a result of a process that has developed over a long time, undergoing changes and evolving in a manner best suited to their user’s needs and interests. It cannot be justified by someone who doesn’t understand the depth of thinking and ideation that went into its creation. An architectural journalist is responsible for creating a piece of writing which is linguistically, technically, logically, and stylistically sound.
Apurva Bose Dutta, a pioneer in Architectural Journalism in India, rightly states in the podcast with ArchGyan, “There is a need for serious writing, original writing. It is our responsibility to write about buildings, structures, and designs that others are producing. What you feel about the building is not only important. It is important that one makes an effort to understand the architect’s take on the building. It is very important to respect the architect, the building.”
Even Pragya Sharma, an architect working in the field of content creation, mentions that the idea of mico-niching might seem odd but that doesn’t mean that the profession itself is unsteady.
The rising demand for Architectural journalists
Most of the architects today, even the senior architects in the field, would agree that the role of an architect in creating a building is not just limited to designing, executing, planning and management anymore. With the massive boom in technology and the age of social media, it extends further and beyond to make sure that it reaches the public at large and in the right manner. Architectural journalism creates opportunities to make one’s work reach a larger audience and gain more clients. As a full-time practicing architect, it can be very hard to play the role of a social media manager for your design firm especially when each social media platform or website requires a different style and format of writing.
That’s when someone from an architectural background, who knows the right architectural jargon and understands your design well enough to be able to put your ideas into words, comes into the picture. He/She talks about your building for you by listening to what it has to say combining it with how it would make the users feel.
Other things Architectural Journalists can do
As an architectural journalist, it is important to remember that one needs to diversify their work so that it doesn’t become monotonous. There are many things one can opt for as an architectural writer, having gained the knowledge of architecture through the rigorous course and applying that expertise of creation and ideation in various ways. One of the best things architecture teaches us is to keep exploring possibilities, even though we may fail or rework them, to gain the best results. Some other the things that architectural journalists can do are:
- Content creation- whether it is for architecture or design firms or some other firm, the base idea behind content creation is to ideate and create something that the audience can relate to. As an architectural writer, one already knows how to interpret one idea in different ways. So we can use that expertise to create content across different platforms.
- Blog / Article writing- For someone who likes long-format writing, articles or blog writing can be beneficial to express views and elaborate what they feel about the subject.
- Reviews- One way to make your way into the market could be to review architectural projects, books, movies, or firms. As long as you are respectful to the architect and the design, giving constructive criticism is also justified.
- Curating conferences or talks- Architectural journalism isn’t just limited to writing. It can be done through verbal communication via talks, discussions, conversations at architectural events, or conferences. It can help to build a strong network and get more and more people interested in this field.
- Take advantage of diversity- Whether it is print media, digital media or broadcast media, architectural practice, product firm or publication firms, or organizations related to the building industry, approaching them can also help to work on different types of projects and avoid a monotonous routine.
- Research papers- For someone who enjoys analysis and case studies or going into detailed research of a subject, they can opt for writing for journals or research papers in collaboration with others of a similar background.
The scope of architectural journalism is immense, especially now that even design schools in India are incorporating it as an elective or a subject in the curriculum. As architects and designers, one’s contribution to society is huge, the role of the architectural journalists is to make their role evident to the community at large. So it is safe to say that as long as you are bold enough to explore the possibilities of this niche subject, architectural journalism can be taken up as a full fledged career as it creates a seamless blend of work and passion.
“Probably one of the best things we can do as architects that don’t practice architecture is to write about it instead.”
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- Sabreen, S. (2016). ARCHITECTURAL JOURNALISM — yet another kindred profession. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@sofiyasabreen/architectural-journalism-yet-another-kindred-profession-55c9be6fed47 [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].
- Gujuluva, B.S. (2020). Pioneers of Architectural Journalism In India Part- 1 – Rethinking The Future. [online] RTF | Rethinking The Future. Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/rtf-fresh-perspectives/a859-pioneers-of-architectural-journalism-in-india-part-1/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].
- Archgyan. (2019). Architectural Journalism in India with Apurva Bose Dutta. [Podcast]. Transmitted 28 January 2019. Available at: https://archgyan.com/podcast/ag-07-architectural-journalism-with-apurva-bose-dutta/ [Accessed 2 Mar. 2022].
- denayunevz (n.d.). Creative Content by denayunevz. [online] Vecteezy. Available at: https://www.vecteezy.com/members/denayunevz?utf8=%E2%9C%93&search=content+writing&sort_by=popular [Accessed 3 Mar. 2022].
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- Sharma, P. (n.d.). [online] https://www.linkedin.com/in/pragya-sharma-/. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pragya-sharma-/ [Accessed 3 Mar. 2022].