What is it like to be an architect? Do you just work on drawings and art? Isn’t it easy and fun? This is something we all hear through our journey from students to professionals. Architecture is more than that. We experience space all around us, shaped into buildings, rooms, tiny enclosures, as well as shaped into public spaces, squares, streets, and natural landscapes. However, when we look at it, interact with it, walk through it, we all perceive it differently.
Sometimes, we forget that someone put much thought into shaping these spaces for us to perceive them in the ways that we do. It takes a lot of time, commitment, and desire to become an architect. Over the years, one would realize that the practice of architecture is more than sketching on trace paper, parti diagrams, group projects, putting the time in choosing the right microns, and running to the store to finish that last-minute model before a jury.
Architecture means solving problems creatively, drawing experiences that empathize with human behavior and sustainability.
Looking Through an Architect’s Perspective
Through the years journey, one has studied and practiced architecture, their perspective about everything in life changes drastically. Everything matters and holds a greater value in life. They look at things more closely, experience new cultures, buildings, and architecture styles while traveling. Going out for walks and traveling alone is a fun activity as they would look for clues in buildings and read them.
Places have their context and stories, but they can look at them and recognize building function and appearance. No two pieces of architecture are alike. Each structure has its individuality, its intricate details that matter. So how do architects differentiate them? They find clues, they now look at buildings and building surroundings and determine them.
Getting inspired from exploration, trying new things, and meeting diverse people from different walks of life holds great importance in an Architect’s life. They are constantly building off, learning, and taking inspiration from the last culture they experience, the last building they see, the things they learn from the last design.
Architectural Journey from Education to Practice
During college, the first year is usually overwhelming. You are being exposed to new ways of doing things, new ways of seeing the world and everything is about to change forever because you will not see anything in the world with the same perspective.
A shift in the perspective of seeing things happen when this journey starts. You are introduced to studio culture (a set of ideas and actions for students, faculty, and staff to go by to work towards a common goal and an educational environment) from there, over the years, you explore and understand different studio cultures of firms to see what suits you best.
Developing your design process over time and your way of doing things, discovering your architecture styles, favorite architects, areas of interest, and future goals. An architect can have specializations and various areas of interest in different fields – Interiors, sustainability, materials, urban, and landscape. A variety of projects over the years contribute to self-identification as an architect, just like after working with various processes one realizes what is best for them. Seeing yourself thrive with the knowledge and looking at things discreetly.
An architecture student faces many constraints and challenges but is mostly allowed leeways. They are allowed to think of hypothetical clients who can be well off while working on their studios. They usually have individual projects or group works within architectural classes. In professional life, one would learn and see that architecture is all about collaboration. Constant collaboration between contractors, site developers, clients, structural, mechanical, electrical engineers, and more. It is a truly integrative process to build any structure.
Diversity In Architecture
There is a vast difference between architecture in different countries. When looking at structures, we all “see” the same thing, however, architects operate and understand things differently mainly because of different social, cultural, history of the place, religions, locally available materials, and geographical background.
Architectural education distorts the perception of the beauty of the built environment. Therefore, from an educational point of view, it makes it clear that architects need to be trained differently when perceiving space. Studying architecture in places around the world gives one diverse knowledge about their respective cultures and codes.
For instance, compare the study culture of architecture education in India and the USA, the latter has a set of building codes which are almost completely different from what it is in India and how education is different in every aspect, but yet we find that most graduates from India go to the USA for their master’s program, transfer as an undergraduate or begin their degree programs abroad itself.
Having the knowledge and being able to visualize things in more than one way is one of the biggest benefits of diversified education. It can enlighten you in enormous ways. It helps to know the importance of collaboration but at the same time the value of individual thoughts and ideas.
Working on a variety of projects will open many cultural doors for you. Using and understanding the design process in school and truly acknowledging the process and journey of design than the end product will make you employable. Learning through the sequencing of studios in school being – considerations of human behavior, site conditions, structures, urban context to the thesis.
Then applying this knowledge as you step into the profession to – pre-design, conceptual design, schematic design, design development, construction documents, building permitting, bidding & negotiation, and construction administration. Here is where architecture students transition into architects to do great things and start saving the world.
An architect is not only someone who builds structures, they design a resilient, regenerative, and beautiful world that is built with empathy. It is a dynamic process of building with greater compassion, understanding, and clarity utilizing knowledge across the fields of human psychology, human relations, and communication to create lasting transformative structures.
The journey and shift in perception from being an amateur student to a professional being are sacred. An Architect enables people to live as they like in an enhanced way, boosting social innovation, and steers it towards a better way of living.
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