Architecture is a field with immense potential- from shaping a person to transforming cities. The very first question we face in an architecture school is Why architecture? Only a few people have enough knowledge to give a valid answer for that. We come from a society that struggles to differentiate between the roles of an architect, structural engineer, and interior designer. There are many misconceptions about architecture. It is all about creating beautiful drawings and does not require complex calculations. It is a highly paid job with a lesser amount of work, it is a desk job with no site work can be amongst many such misconceptions. Only a person who has first-hand experience can speak about this objectively.
There are many art appreciators in the world, but being an artist is altogether a different story. The same rule applies to architecture. The love toward spaces, buildings, and monuments does not imply that one is fit to become an architect. Architecture spreads far and wide beyond aesthetics. After stepping into an architecture school, it takes no time to realize that it is a rigorous and hard-working field. It is impossible to compare with any other course. The beginning of this roller-coaster ride can be extreme to cope with. Though it does not get easier with time, we eventually start loving the rigor and hustle.
“Architecture is not so much a knowledge of form, but a form of knowledge”
– Bernard Tschumi
Architecture education touches upon many aspects of life and opens new horizons for creativity. It teaches you a new way of analyzing things you already know, changes your perception, broadens the perspective, and makes you capable of carving your niche in the sphere of architecture. The most important skills developed in architecture school is critical thinking and problem-solving. You learn to consider many layers before coming to a solution. The best part of the process is finding multiple creative solutions to solve a single problem, changing from person to person.
Academia opens new avenues of possibilities to any person enrolled in the course. The lessons taught in the school do not stay limited to architecture and buildings. Architecture education shapes a sensitive lifestyle and helps to understand everything in the world to the greater depths. Architecture school is a powerhouse of creativity, where each person has their skills and capabilities. It is never one-way learning in architecture school. Though professors teach from their experience and knowledge gained over the years, there is always a possibility for cross-learning. A person who attends architecture school can never go back to being the same as before as it changes how we think, live, and interact with our surroundings.
As much as it may sound fascinating and captivating, architecture school can be a big challenge to survive if you are not really in love with the field. With an increasing number of architecture schools, the competition in the profession is only increasing while it is becoming easier to get enrolled into the program. The amount of money, resources, time, and effort required in architecture school can feel overwhelming. Education cannot be limited to classes; each day brings a new set of challenges. With a lack of experience and time management, all-nighters become a regular thing. It may feel like a burden if the decision about pursuing architecture was not yours in the first place, which eventually leads to stress and anxiety. It becomes essential to understand the field thoroughly before deciding to put five years of life into it.
Threshold of Architecture Education and Practice
Most architecture students decide to take this long haul even after knowing the possible difficulty and challenges associated with it because their interest in creating a better world and the drive for designing outweighs all other things. The core of architecture education remains about creating spaces and designing buildings. There are many professional skills that students develop along this journey. Some such skills include a good sense of graphics and compositions, sensitivity towards societal problems, learning about new places and cultures and creatively putting our ideas forward. Architecture education trains individuals to push their boundaries and explore out-of-the-box possibilities, which is the precise reason why there are so many fields open to architecture students apart from mainstream architecture. Few such niches include architectural journalism, graphic design, visualizations and experience design, teaching, social service, set designing, art direction, furniture design, and illustrative arts.
“Architecture is a small piece of this human equation, but for those of us who practice it, we believe in its potential to make a difference, to enlighten and to enrich the human experience, to penetrate the barriers of misunderstanding and provide a beautiful context for life’s drama.” – Frank Gehry
The mainstream practice of architecture is very different from the process followed in academics, and it is far from the common perception of an architect. In architectural practice, designing becomes only a small part of the process and the execution takes the most chunk of time. Though architecture is one of the most responsible jobs, it does not pay very well in the initial years. Working in big teams sometimes gets you doing the same thing for a long stretch of time. In most cases, architects do not get creative freedom while working in a large team and often have to refine the ideas designed by someone else.
Successfully carving a career in architecture takes a lot of patience and perseverance. If you decide to start your practice, a typical day at work would be far from how you had worked in architecture school. The responsibilities include creating, checking, and constantly updating construction drawings, getting cost estimates, reviewing the work on-site, generating invoices, taking care of the payments, interacting with the clients, obtaining permits, and coordinating with other agencies. The leaders in the discipline of architecture often have made many sacrifices considering the legal responsibilities, constant pressure for creativity, and juggling between personal and professional life.
But Architecture is Amazing
“Architecture is about trying to make the world a little more like our dreams”
Once you get through the struggle of time and resource management, architecture can be one of the most satisfying and rewarding industries to work in. Every project is a new problem-solving task, defined by new boundaries and a brand-new opportunity to put your skills and knowledge to create a unique solution. The best compensation for all the sacrifices and hard work we put through the years is to see your designs shaping into reality and the spaces you imagined in the head come into existence.
Architecture enables you to make informed decisions about people, spaces, and places and make the world a better place, one design at a time. The field holds the potential to create spaces to provide people with a better environment, health, and wellbeing. The buildings you design become landmarks to visit, a tangible product for people to touch, see and experience. It is the ultimate option to turn your passion into a profession and to spend each day doing what you love for the rest of your life, and your work will remain in the world for a very long time.
These are a few factors playing a role in pursuing the field of architecture, but the experience changes from one person to another. Only you know your interests and inclinations, and if it does align with becoming an Architect, welcome to the wonderland!