Architectural internship experiences are surprisingly rejuvenating, adventure-filled, and often a much-needed break from the hypothetical designing that students pursue in their college studios. Indubitably, crafting the most innovative designs for our studio work is a fulfilling creative business. However, the sheer joy and inspiration for working in practical scenarios are distinctly energizing and satiating. The newness of day-long rigorous schedules, working in the vicinity of experienced minds, being accountable for the very details of your work, working cumulatively with colleagues, the discussions and debates, and even the office interaction culture always keeps interns on their toes.

Re-thinking architectural education- Optimizing Architectural Curriculum for Practical Application - Sheet1
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In some scenarios, however, students face a lot of dilemmas in their internship period. They experience stark contrasts between what was theoretically taught in classes and how things function practically. This discrepancy often disappoints the senior architects and makes them question the intern’s ability, even when he/she is precisely following what was taught in their classes. Difficulties like such don’t necessarily imply that the college curriculum is entirely incorrect, however, it does shed some light on the fact that efforts are needed to derive solutions over these discrepancies and ensure efficient overall student enhancement. These solutions, some subtle while others intensive shall enhance the quality of architectural education considerably.

1. The Daunting Pressures for Innovative solutions

It’s a blessing to have super enthusiastic teachers dropping innovative ideas all the time and leaving us in awe of the ever-evolving architectural technologies. However, such recurring urges to innovate more and more are not entirely justifiable. Pressuring students to work upon innovative new technologies of their own, to serve their crazy designs, is not only an exceeded expectation, but it is also sometimes an ample waste of time. The drawback here is in the fact that so much attention is diverted in innovation and design that the practical knowledge of architectural systems is side-lined. These subjects are studied with only half the devotion as architectural design studios which reflects in the internship period when quite a few interns fail to display a thorough knowledge of primary systems and technologies. Forging creativity in designs is a continual process and innovation is an attempt that we as architects only get to make after a certain amount and years of experience. Hence, understanding technology first is primary and innovation is secondary.

Re-thinking architectural education- Optimizing Architectural Curriculum for Practical Application - Sheet2
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2. Improving Teaching Methods

Experimenting with materials, site visits, study tours, model making, interactive creative assignments, etc., make the architectural education pattern one of the least monotonous and most fun. However, there is always scope for development. Theory and technical lectures are still extremely poorly curated in most colleges. Some measures to make the other subjects just as interactive need to be taken, to solidify information retention and performance in technical subjects, which are crucial during the later years of the course and during the internship.

3. Sessions by Prominent Architects

Various architectural technologies have to be incorporated with adequate changes on-site, varying to different projects. Theoretical delivery of technical subjects alone cannot give the students a comprehensive knowledge of these systems. Practicing architects can deliver occasional video demonstrations or presentations on how the systems that they used in their projects were implemented practically. Besides making the realities of architecture familiar from very early on, such presentations will also inculcate a good amount of confidence in students before their internship.

Sessions by Prominent Architects
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4. Communication Between Academicians and Practitioners

It is imperative that practicing architects hiring interns will have some complaints about teaching methods of academicians and vice versa. It would be constructive if practitioners and academicians interact and resolve these complaints out while voicing suggestions in favor of maximum student development. In addition to benefiting the students, this will ensure smoothened communication and understanding between the senior architect and an intern, because the architects will be familiar with the intern’s background knowledge precisely. If the hiring architects start realizing their responsibilities as a teacher in addition to being seniors at the workplace, then interns will be able to draw out maximal benefit from their internship experience. This, in particular, must happen because internships are first a part of the student’s learning tenure, then work experience.

5. Drafting a comprehensive format

Internships in different offices look different. Some students end up working on several different elements of professional practice while others end up spending all the tenure and energy on a single category work. This poses the problem of the lack of learning. Thus, academicians should send off their students for their internship with a proper format and list of goals and lessons, which shall be supportive of their ongoing education. Practitioners should take note as well, that they provide learning opportunities to their interns based on the prescribed format additionally.

6. Radical Change

In some nations, medical students spend more time in hospitals receiving hands-on practical training. These hospitals have an elaborate teaching program for their learners in place and they are called teaching hospitals. They track the student’s progress and examinations are conducted in the form of monitoring their performance on patients of the hospital.

Radical Change
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We can experiment with architectural student performances in a similar model. Since maximum interns are reviewed to have learned significantly during the internship tenure, in some cases even more than their time in college, a practical teaching model for the most of graduation is a prospective approach. Supporting this proposal is the fact that a lot of students feel that the course is too long. Such a model shall assist in inculcating practical learning from very early on. After all, the very idea of having dedicated teaching architectural firms will make all the student’s eyes shine with happiness.

Devika Biyani

DevikaBiyani is an architecture student who holds that creative discussions and ideas form the foundation for any project. Credit to her passion for writing, her interest in the field is inclined towards studying the theories of architecture and dawning gripping architectural dialogues far and wide.

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