Travelling is a subjective term. You can ask what travelling means to 100 people, and you will likely get 100 different answers to that question. By definition, it can be “going from one place to another” or “making a journey of a particular distance”. But travelling is so much more than that what we perceive. While some might like travelling for the destination, others claim that the journey to the destination matters. The type of journey could change at any point along the road based on your perception and desire.
Travelling, for an architect, can be uplifting w.r.t. personal growth and knowledge. It provides architects with exposure to different cultures and cuisines, witnessing the evolution of architecture over the years, and an opportunity to meet new people. However, embarking on a career could be challenging as finding time to travel while handling full-time employment becomes increasingly difficult.
Travelling for business purposes might sound glamorous in theory. Flying in first/business class, arriving at the airport to a sign with your name on it, having business dinners at expensive restaurants, and adding country after country to your list of places you have travelled to etc. But reality can be a little different from these glamourous things that the movies and TV shows have etched into our minds. While there are advantages to business travel, it also has its fair share of disadvantages. Being a part of a firm, you might be required to represent your firm internationally. Staying away from friends and family for too long can also be a disadvantage. You might be sent to a place that doesn’t interest you or might not find the place’s overall energy or culture to your liking. There are many reasons to avoid travelling, but there are still many more reasons to seize the opportunity of travelling on business expenses.
Travelling helps an architect to gain a fresh new perspective on their surroundings and help them discover their true self. Regarding the possibility of travelling as an architect, this nature of employment could depend on the company you are a part of. Large corporations or architectural firms tend to work on more international projects that allow their employees to travel overseas. But working on international projects is one of many ways an architect can experience travelling.
For an architect, creativity is an essential tool. There is a connection with the creative portion of the brain that desires to explore, try and learn new things to quench its thirst for creativity. Travelling accomplishes all three of these for an architect. Exploring new places, witnessing the area’s architecture, and experiencing the culture, engages all of the human senses and makes us immerse ourselves into a reality that is most likely new and nothing like the one we live in.
An architect, to a certain extent, is a part anthropologist too. Like an anthropologist, an architect desires to study and learn more about the origin and evolution, in this case, buildings. Every place has its quirk, its own story or legacy. Wired to learn more and more, architects constantly try to improve and get inspired by what they have learned from their past designs, the past architectural marvels they have come across, and the cultures they have experienced.
Getting a glimpse of various forms of architecture theoretically through textbooks and looking at a diagram could help you to get a rudimentary understanding of it but to stand in front of the structure and witness the grandeur of the form of architecture through our eyes magnifies the effect of it. Witnessing the beauty of a space and getting engulfed in the symbolism and intention behind the architecture of the magnificent structure helps you to feel the power of its design.
Be it site visits for projects, meeting with clients/officials or office trips, travel is a vital part of a professional architect’s life. An interesting question arises from this topic: “Can one become an architect without travelling?’. The answer to this question is that till a few decades ago, working as an architect without travelling would have been impossible. While there is no substitute for being physically present at the site, experiencing the space first-hand and soaking in all the information but with the advancement in technology in today’s world, especially evident as the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, more and more parts of an architect’s work can be fulfilled remotely including remote meetings, satellite imagery, and continuously improving software such as CAD, Building Information Modelling, 3D Rendering, etc.
Considering all the prerequisites and the fundamentals of an architect’s job, all architects are travellers to a certain extent. While a few architects might find travelling as just another part of their job or try to avoid travelling as much as possible, most would consider it a perk that comes with the job. Be it meetings, site visits or as a means of pleasure, escaping from the clutches of our daily routine can be a delightful personal and professional experience.
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