How “deep” can architects think?

It is the question that comes out of every individuals’ mind.

The depth of an architect’s thought process demands two intrinsically linked qualities- curiosity and observation skills. An eye for detail develops when these qualities are at play with each other. To appreciate an ornamental design adorning the walls or assessing the scale of an area, one must nurture their curious and observant nature. This bustling mind of an architect operates when both observation and curiosity are ever in a loop. Does this develop after acquiring a college education?

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Observe and be curious_©Carlsen, P.
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Observe and be curious2_©Leewardists. (2018). Travel pics of architects.

The Life Cycle of an Architect

Stage 1- The Chosen Ones

To understand this better, let’s start from the beginning. A high school student who aspires to become an architect one day would have various reasons for wanting to do this for the rest of their lives. Some may be interested in the glorious office life of a posh design studio, while some might be more interested in the artistic side of the course. Others might find architecture more appealing than engineering or medicine, while few of them might be torchbearers of their family construction business. There are myriad reasons that contribute to their decision. But what is innate would be a desire to create spaces that are beautiful and feel inviting. This thought is a basic understanding that any aspirant would have by default even before starting college. What happens later to this thinking depends on the quality of the college education that a student receives. College molds the thinking process and gives it structure and direction.

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Freshers_©Leewardists. (2019)

Stage 2- Caterpillar and Chrysalis

This formal education has evolved over the years. A few decades ago, the design process would start with students conducting site studies in detail. After this study, they would free-hand draw to scale various design options. Once a design option met the brief, it turned into meticulously replicated sheets using T-scale, set square, and Rotring pens. After many painstaking hours of labor, the final sheets would be neat and creatively organized for the final jury. Lastly, a jury panel would mercilessly criticize them and might go to the extent of ripping them off. Such harsh and demanding standards would develop the students’ problem-solving skills and harden their hearts towards rejection. This treatment would help an architect to stay strong during challenging times. It may have helped many architects to perform well in their careers, but many impacted negatively. Some students may have had to reconsider their decision and would drop off midway.

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Online class_©Getty Images
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Online education has opened up a whole new world of exploration. On-site studies and hand-drawn sheets reduced exponentially. Video tutorials and online workshops provide information and discussion forums for students to engage Drawing software such as AutoCad, Revit is used to produce simple line drawings. 3D views are more in demand than the plan itself. There is extensive use of graphic design too. This dependence on advanced tech has made education entirely virtual. What once was practical knowledge has become virtual now. The amount of time gained by indulging in this screen time knowledge is a loss of actual sweat and grime shed while pursuing architecture. Despite the frantic 5 AM completion of design sheets at a friend’s apartment and last-minute runs to the print shop, knowing there’s only an hour left for the jury to start, one cannot forget the thrill of having faced and lived through it all by the end of last semester.

Stage 3- The Adult is Set Free

After five rigorous years of grilling and clicking away at AutoCad, one’s perception is shaped very differently than what it was before. Consider the example of a healing space. Along with the utilization of space and aesthetics, we search for details in the surroundings that will benefit the user in terms of physical, mental, and emotional health. Arranging space and giving them purpose is an optimum blend of good design orientation and comfortable living. To make the right choices regarding the quality of living experience for the users, opting for sustainable designing methods, creating environment-friendly areas – all towards the vision of developing the best healing space for the community – are the positive impacts this education makes in an architect’s mindset. It is unique for each architect and leaves a distinct mark for the world to see.

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Healing bubble_©
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Swarm towards the Future

After the onset of the pandemic, online classes have become the new normal. A chunk of the old-school thinking has progressed through the years to what we see now – virtual learning. The essential standards such as producing good quality sheets, impressive presentation skills, and coming up with innovative methods of design/construction remain the same. Ways of gathering information through mass media, collaborating with fellow students for brainstorming sessions, exploring different architects and their work has become significantly easy with the progress of the online medium. Regardless of the method followed, what matters ultimately is getting the right perception/mindset for future architects to make an outright visible positive change with the work they produce. So that the next budding student gets the right idea about architecture before they decide to go ahead with pursuing this journey.

Future_©Shendurnikar, S. and Singh, A. (2021).

An architecture graduate, teacher, and aspiring artist. Varsha is also a passionate writer, dancer, and mental health advocate. She believes that writing is a powerful medium for our mind to express freely as words and our voice to be heard even when unspoken.

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