“Journalism is the first rough draft of History” -Philip Graham
Defining something Confines it into the Definition. This could be the reason why Architecture is a profession which cannot be defined completely. There is always a gradient of grey which fluctuates between the black and white. Architecture is where “Science and Art break Even”. It is a combination of Engineering, art, aesthetics, logic, designing and planning. To put it simply it is an amalgamation “Sugar, spice and everything nice”. Ideas as their own improve the society, but their meaning in words ‘Aids to the improvement’, which makes Architectural Journalism -’The Chemical X’ of Architecture.
Be it Jane Austin or Jane Jacobs, they weaved the same known story in a never-yet presented way which made us look into the same aspect in a totally new dimension. Architectural Journalism, I feel is that portal which tries to comprehend the designer’s mind and the user’s experience of a design from an unbiased perspective. In a prepared speech given at Butler University on November 12, 2003, Paul Goldberger is quoted as saying; “Architecture criticism is aesthetics and it is politics and it is sociology and it is culture…” .
Architectural Journalism is a niche of writing about architecture and design. Very often, architects and designers with a flair for writing pursue Architectural Journalism. They get an advantage of learning, while commenting on a work of architecture or a design philosophy. However, a basic sense of aesthetics and adequate reading on the subject helps in understanding design concepts well enough to be able to develop one’s career in this niche of journalism. One can categorize Architectural journalism into diverse subparts. It involves intense skills in design interpretation, perceptional thinking, and creative writing, documentation in terms of photography, exploration and research.
“Journalism is the truth that people need to know, and not what they want to know”. This stream as a career establishes its importance in being the unbiased analyzer as well the awareness promoter of the design world. It has got its never-than-ever relevance now as this field demands newer ways of understanding and experience. This does not just involve mundane criticism, but also lets the designer know “What is being conveyed through their way of conveying” and also lets the reader/user know “What is been tried to convey”. This is home run for designers who can understand the minds of the readers/users further-more and alter their means of communications and also correct the miscommunication if any.
The scope of an Architectural journalist has widened and wizened in recent times. There are innumerous magazines, web portals, blogs in India and around the world, which connect the writers and the readers through a palm-sized magic device (which I believe has connected me and you now).
One can take up a full-time job in any of the magazines, or summer/winter internships. There are lots of architectural web portals which offers online internships (Like our very own “Rethinking the Future”) which gives us the flexibility this job very well needs. As an architecture student, one could start learning and understanding this subject right from their under-grad days through student internships and various online courses. If one understands the sensitivity of the subject and leads oneself to the startup analysis, documentation, exploration, study, and research of architectural interventions. One could join research organizations related to architecture in India, specifically: CSIR, CBRI, Research Cell at – CCA, CEPT, TERI etc.
The profession of Architectural Journalism is gaining much value in comparison to that of being a conventional architect across the globe. This can be attributed to the fact that apart from designing, explaining the same holds sheer importance as far as formulating a brand is concerned. Architectural journalism is also reflective. We can understand our mistakes and hence, learn not to repeat them in the future; and we can grasp the advantages and the positives so that they can be replicated ahead, keeping in mind the conceptual and contextual details. In fact, it can arouse the interest of the readers in architecture at another level, which would certainly boost this field beside publicizing architects. Especially in India, this is a not-so-much-trodden path in spite of its importance. The employment possibilities that it can create are still to be hit upon. The numerous languages and cultures can bring about multivariate perspectives in architecture. After having watched through different colors of cultures, understanding what is best for who becomes a lot easier for any architect.
Although we have 450+ architectural colleges in India, the sorry state of affair is that only a few of them have Architectural Journalism as an interdisciplinary course. Some of those colleges are CCA, CEPT, NIT-H, SPA Delhi. Hence, we very well understand that awareness is a big deal as far as this new emerging subject is concerned and there are many more efforts required to increase this figure in comparison to the increasing number of Architectural Colleges in India in the recent years.
Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic, Architectural Journalism is a whole new wizardry which deserves to be learned, practiced and mastered.
Akshaya Murali, an architect thriving to share her stories and thoughts, one article at a time.