Starting college life in itself, was a new experience, let alone architecture college – which had its own set of surprises. My luggage was stocked up with all sorts of stationery to prepare me for my new journey at my new college – Manipal School of Architecture and Planning.
Stepping into a studio classroom, was quite a change from the usual classroom arrangement of tables and chairs. This was the first of the many changes of stepping into the field of architecture—how heavy textbooks and lab records were replaced by rolls of white sheets and tracing papers.
I remember our teacher teaching us how to set up a parallel bar. It took a while to get accustomed to these new sets of scales, set squares, etc. Our first submissions were a nightmare. I used to focus on details and spend hours and weeks perfecting it only to be rejected by the juror or jury panel. Then the rush to meet the ridiculous deadlines—sweating and completing half-done sheets. Our first few group projects had us working hard to finish them in time for the deadlines. T-scales doubled as sticks to grab things far out of reach. We got rebuked for things that seemed petty at the time, like our pencil line weights.
As the years progressed, we started getting clarity regarding line depths, perspectives, etc. By the third year, it was our Rotring pens. We had a love-hate relationship with architectural representation or engineering graphics (as it was called in some universities)—This was because, as much as it was fun to draw with Rotring pens and watch the drawing turn out so technical, one line or edge couldn’t meet and we had to redo the sheet. I remember tearing several A1 sheets to get the perfect 3-d drawings, plans, and elevation in black and white.
Teamwork Does It!
The biggest surprise came when I thought I could be a lone-wolf. I was pretty convinced
I could become an architect and have people work for me. 2 weeks in and I realized it’s a group effort and we have to work with different types of people with varied skillsets. I was not the best at group work. But almost every 2nd assignment required us to pair up or form groups of 3-4. By 4th year I would get better at coordinating work with people assigning work as a team leader of a group and accepting and taking up areas of work that were in my strong areas.
The Fun Part – Never-Ending Exploring
The best part of Architecture college was of course site visits/ case study trips. I had a lot of fun exploring places during college hours. It was the best because apart from seeing places with a new perspective, we get attendance for the same! College couldn’t get any better I thought! We had the opportunity to see places not just as a whole, but how form evolves upon the functionality. Usually, we go as tourists to visit places from a layman’s point of view. But here I started seeing the elements of design and the aesthetics going hand in hand with the function. How each team like electrical, MEP and contractors, etc., came together to bring out a project to its fruitful completion.
All the creative kinds and artists love art stores and stationery stores. It’s even therapeutic to some. The smell of new stationery and books. I remember going to a particular stationery shop in my city, which sold all the different kinds of papers and stationery required for artists. I gawked at the stacks of varied sheets of paper, wondering what all these were used for.
By the third year, I had used brown sheets, chart papers—of all sizes from a5 through a0, and combined papers of a0. I became well-versed with all types of papers from gateway sheets to garware sheets.
Not to forget the Fuji paints, brush pens, color pencils, alcohol markers, set squares – t scales parallel bars, and liners of Staedtler.
The Final Leg
Project managers and clients The biggest shift came when I went for my one-year internship at an office. Where reality met my dreamy sketches on paper and AutoCAD drawings. Clients had 100 requirements more than my college design juror. Never did I think that I would get tougher requirements than asked by my design faculty at college. I was so wrong and how. The clients had ridiculous, impractical requirements. Even the principal architect and project architect were easier to work with and convince them of new ideas than convincing a client.
From a girl who drew preposterous concept drawings without considering functionality and anthropometric, I became a girl expert in crafting 3D roof designs and homes with the skills of an architect. Just starting but, but let me tell you, the field never ceases to amaze me.