The 5-year long span of our architecture school is something that we cherish for a lifetime. We tend to develop a love-hate relationship with architecture in between pulling an all-nighter for the whole week to glass tracing the assignments at the end moment to struggling for finding a good concept for designs to find a bunch of lifelong friends to attending several workshops, seminars, study tours and a lot more. 

At the first workshop of architecture school, I was told that from now on there would be moments when I would focus on the minute details of the movie set design rather than focusing on the performing actors. It was only during the third-year fest when I understood the true essence and meaning of this statement. A grand event called Vertical Studio was organized, for which the whole college was divided into four groups with a theme and several tasks like Set Designing, Graphics for the event, Light and Sound, Stabile installation, and Costume & Accessory Design. At the end of the week, we were supposed to put up a 10min show revolving around the specified theme with the chief guest for this event being none other than the master Ar. Nitin Desai himself.

Architecture is not something confined to designing a structure rather it’s using any space most optimally while incorporating several minute details. Architecture around us provides a backdrop for our life to unfold similar to the way how Set Designing brings life to any movie or theatre scene. Though this is an important factor, the majority of people always tend to overlook it. 

A snippet of a Workshop in Architectural College - Sheet1
Berlin set model by Christina Smith_

Architecture deals with the spatial planning of space while movies or film sets are snippets of architecture and the built environment. Principles of Architecture and Set Designing are more similar than we imagine. Both play a strong role in inducing a strong sense of the place while working within certain confined boundaries. Designers of both fields are known to play with minute details, scale, dimensions, grandiosity, and strong edifice. Another similarity between them is the several constraints faced during the working like client or program requirements, budget, and site/ stage specificity to name a few. 

Bollywood movies are usually shot in outdoor picturesque landscapes (like the Himalayas), detailed indoors (inside a film studio) and majestic heritage monuments (like Maheshwar, Jaipur, Udaipur). Several movies have taken an extra leap with their beautiful set designing to enhance their movies. Whereas a few movies are shot using architectural masterpieces designed by renowned architects as their backdrop. For example, IIM Bangalore by Ar. B.V. Doshi in 3 idiots to IIM Ahmedabad by Ar. Louis Kahn in 2states to Forest Research Institute, Dehradun in Student of the Year to several other movies. 

Workshops are an important part of architecture college and learning; they teach us a lot more than the normal classroom session. Participating in college fests imbibe various values in us. They are not just team building, time management, punctuality but also give a sneak peek into the real world. This event was one of the most exciting and memorable events of the entire architectural college life. 

A snippet of a Workshop in Architectural College - Sheet2
Lights, Camera, Set Design_©

The workshop was filled with continuous sleepless nights, laughter, endlessly working on 3D panels to achieve perfect details with Khoon paseene ki mehnat (quite literally, no model-making process is complete without some bloodshed, right?). While being the leader for the Mughal group with a broken leg, I got a snippet of professional life from handling the whole project within a limited budget to convince a group of 60 members to work non-stop to completing the panels with a strict deadline to designing the set with the best of our capabilities to appease the judges.

 As people say just designing a good structure is not the end of the job of an architect, several other factors highlight the structure like lighting, interior design, landscape to name a few. Similarly, for the competition our job didn’t end at creating beautiful sets rather, it was a great amalgamation of set designing with beautiful costumes, antique jewelry, acoustics (sound), graphics, and last but not the least my teammates that performed and helped in the backstage work and designing. Also, to kill your curiosity, after breath-taking performances by all the four groups the event ended how any event ends in a college when they do not want any future disputes. Yes, you guessed it right the winning trophy was shared by all the groups as judges found all performances fantastic. 

In the end, I would like to say that we as architects have a bigger picture to play in the built and unbuilt spaces around us, it’s about time we make the others realize the importance of these spaces and treat them sensitively. I will end this article with a question “Do you think any movie or your own life, the story would be possible without architecture, with just things like clothes, jewelry, vehicles, etc. 


Radhika Dube is an adaptive, hardworking and determined architect. She loves travelling, baking and reading. She believes in bringing the building and structures to life with the help of her writings. She has the confidence to learn and achieve anything around her.