What part of your school days did you find the most troubling? For me, it was when some teachers would just up and ask everyone what everyone’s future aspirations were or what everyone wanted to be when they grew up. I stood there genuinely numb, never having an answer. If someone decided to pursue a career as an architect inspired by a childhood epiphany, wouldn’t it be whimsical? Indeed, my own experience aligns with such a case. A teacher once asked us to create a drawing of our house while in fifth grade, turning my childhood masterpiece into a standout piece that garnered praise from everyone. 

Travelling through architecture and self-discovery - Sheet1
teachers asking questions at school_©https://steemit.com

Architecture: the art and science of designing buildings and non-building structures. Everyone would most likely begin by using this Google definition. Essentially, it would be a blank page at the start of a story, which some people might fill quickly, others might take an era, and still others would never fill. Embarking on the journey of architecture college becomes notably smoother when one enters without preconceived notions. The initial days serve as a period of self-elevation, marked by a series of transformative shifts. The transition from sharpeners to cutters, it  was never a ‘drawing’, instead it was a ‘sketch’. We created more models than we did notes in school. The revelation dawns that history need not be a mystery but a crucial foundation for architectural understanding. Answering the most frequent question, ‘Name a few famous architects’, when you only knew Zaha Hadid was the toughest question of all time. ’Are architects that famous?’ would be the most thought-provoking question. Indeed it was a journey, from the first year to the present day that was transformative and enlightening.

Travelling through architecture and self-discovery - Sheet2
First year design studio_©mississippi state university

Weaving perspectives

In the later years of architecture, innovative thinking and creativity reigned supreme. Creating stunning things was always appreciated. At college, it was common to hear the phrase “think out of the box. creativity overruled  practicality. But, it’s always necessary to understand the practicalities of the world. However, as I looked deeper, I realised that the true essence of architecture is in the harmony of its creativity, functionality, history,and people. Beyond visual appeal, spaces were to serve specific purposes, aligning with the needs and experiences of their users. Yes, every space we create must be an ecosystem for the users. The multifaceted nature of architecture was revealed as the years passed. 

Keeping history 

One of the significant changes that happened in me I can say is my admiration for history and culture. Recalling how disinterested I have been in my history classes back in school. I remember learning about the Indus Valley civilization and Mesopotamian civilization in school and never knew what was. Now, these historical narratives from mere textbook content are the birth of an extraordinary story – the history of architecture. Later on, I realised History of architecture, is a tale that transcends time, unfolding in Neolithic caves, the grandeur of the pyramids, the ethereal beauty of Gothic churches, the opulence of Roman architecture, and the ornamented Baroque era. The Taj Mahal, which was once considered the symbol of eternal love, is now a wonder in marble, by whom I can say ‘ the greatest artisans of all time’.All these have kept an indelible mark on me and my understanding about unleashing creativity, wondering if such architectural marvels would rise back again.

Travelling through architecture and self-discovery - Sheet3
Indus valley civilisation_©https://www.crystalinks.com/induscivilization.html

Communication is the key 

Yes, communication is the key, whether it’s through words or visual expressions. Effective communication is a catalyst for navigating through architecture. The skill to articulate your ideas is as important as conceiving them. I remember the first activity given to us on the first day of college. Sketch on a piece of paper why we chose architecture. Many, myself included, were confused with the notion of translating such a profound decision into a simple sketch. It was the first move toward realising that the ability to communicate whether through words or sketching is what endeavours the potential of architecture.

presentation in architecture colleges_©the bartlett school of architecture

My journey through architecture has been one of self-discovery, a deep understanding of the vital role that communication plays in the field of architecture, and an appreciation for history, culture, and heritage. My aspirations to become an architect from fifth grade have now grown me into an architect, motivated by the realisation that architecture is a balance of creativity, functionality, and cultural resonance rather than merely the creation of aesthetic designs. The rich narratives of history, from ancient civilizations to inspiring architectural marvels, transform what was once a disinterest into a profound admiration. Architecture is a discipline that understands societal needs, weaves artistic creativity, and whatnot.  this realisation becomes the guiding principle, shaping not only my designs but also my commitment to weaving narratives that resonate with the essence of humanity and the built environment.

Author

Jumana Nasreen is a young architect, who is not a fan of conventional architecture practice. Inspired by architects like Nari Gandhi, she advocates for hands on design departing from digital confines. Jumana strives to capture the true essence of architecture, articulating human stories within, through her writings.