Getting into an architectural college is a task in itself, let alone surviving through it. But all of the toilings is worth it for the lessons the field has to teach. More often than not, one enters into an architectural school with one’s innocence about the real world, their naivety, and a limited world-view. What sets aside an architectural college from other colleges is the fact that you aren’t just a student any more who’s to learn concepts and validate their learnings by qualifying for the profession through an exam. You have to engage yourself in the process of creation on something real which is an actual site and at every stage question yourself the reason for doing what you are doing.
Hence, the bubble of being a student bursts quite quickly when one gets into an architectural school. The first illusion that breaks is that architecture is an eclectic mix of all the subjects you thought you wouldn’t have to study anymore; that accompanied by design. None of the subjects is left out; history, chemistry while deciding materials, physics for calculating stresses, geography, and climate while studying the site and the list really is inexhaustible. These are the secondary subjects that you incorporate while designing, which itself provides you with an array of skill-set that include researching, drafting, developing a temperament for graphics, preparing narrative for presentation, and above all carving your own way of designing and design thinking. Along with these academic subjects and technical skills, studying architecture inherently teaches you the lessons of life for they are essential to get through college.
- Architecture and much more
Architecture does comprise many academic subjects, but it also provides an insight into the arts. There are elective subjects and clubs dedicated to visual arts, literary criticism, and film and theatre appreciation. This exposure helps in expanding the world-view along with providing time-off. It’s always wondered how do architectural students manage to develop a rich taste for all of these, given they have very little time to spare? It is often forgotten that a break is just as essential and these quality-breaks not only provide for developing design thinking and enriching imagination but also make us realize that architecture is much more than just designing; just like life is much more than family and job.
- Books don’t have all the answers
The architectural study isn’t based on delivering through lectures and studying through books; but engaging in designing, guided by faculties and discussions with various people. The books don’t have solutions for our nuanced problems, and there’s not one but umpteen number of solutions to our problem waiting to be unlocked by tapping into our creativity. Communication, too, becomes integral while searching for answers. We would approach people who’d guide us on how and where to look for answers. If not that, they’d help us create answers. Different people will come up with different answers and provide different perspectives. As it’s said, if one door closes in life, build another one; the only difference is that here one could even design its door!
- What is fear?
In the initial years, one might be afraid of approaching people or sketching with the fear of forming impressions, being judged, or for the mere fear of making mistakes. But over time, through forced interactions or being forced to draw, we learn that only putting things out will help us move forward and that mistakes are part of the process of learning. Fear is only hindering us from our own progress. Hence, one fearlessly engages in experimenting and trying out new things; not just while designing but also in life.
- Dealing with and delivering to people
The architecture will not only require one to communicate with people but also work with them in group projects, delivering to them during juries, and also probably dealing with people on-site during internships. Teamwork isn’t always the best part of any work environment but over time, one learns to divide up the work efficiently and choose their words wisely. This is also prominent when one is to build up the narratives for the juries. Realizing what an appropriate choice of words communicates and the impact it might have on conservation teaches one to be thorough while talking.
In architectural schools, one has to deal with a lot of things at times. The submissions are never-ending and it might be a real struggle to make the ends meet. However, over time, one learns to manage time effectively and work efficiently which also helps to allocate time to extra-curricular activities. This inculcates a habit of planning and organizing one’s days and even weeks, especially before the jury.
- Keeping the calm
A lot of submissions also mean a lot of mind-numbing stress. Constant dealing with stress for 5 years of architectural study prepares one for any kind of stress that life brings on the plate. The stress could be a result of work pressure and even faculty reviews. At times, one might be criticized by jurors which might leave them disheartening at initial stages. However, over time one learns to take criticisms positively without a frown and work towards addressing it. Patience is the key to getting through architecture; umpteen number of redos, precision in technical drawings, rendering in software, and above all getting done with architectural schools. Hence, dealing with stress, acknowledging criticism, and being patient; the lessons that architectural schools inculcate over time helps one to keep their calm in the face of adversities life throws at them.
- Every penny counts
No matter what all it has to teach, architectural study is expensive. Costly stationeries and printing an uncountable number of sheets and still managing it within the budget is literally one of the most practical life lessons that architecture schools teach us. We not only realize the value of money and optimize our spendings but also learn to distinguish between what is essential and what needs to go under cost-cutting.
- Standing up for what you believe in
There would have been times when one would have been questioned about their design decisions. At the start, these might put people into a realm of self-doubt but over time we learn to substantiate our decisions with reasons for our understanding. Time and again, we might have ended up with jurors who would have contrasting views on our design and this helps us to understand that in designing, nothing is right or wrong but just how well we articulate our thoughts. Therefore, at times, holding our grounds for what we believe in might help us move further confidently rather than unwillingly giving up to others’ persuasion.
- Acceptance is the key
There are a lot of skills one needs to acquire and a variety of people one needs to deal with in the field of architecture. One can only learn when they accept their shortcomings. The self-acceptance that one isn’t necessarily the best at everything, eliminates the self-doubt that puts us down. Also, acknowledging people’s differences and accepting them for who they are eases working with them; especially in a field that deals with people to a great extent.
- Life is a journey, and the journey is not linear
Over time, one gets to know that designing is a never-ending process. One can refine a given design for as long as he or she wishes too. A stage of completion and a sense of contentment might never be achieved. However, what is a more essential lesson is that the process is governed by a variety of factors; site, program, concept, users, and all of them have their role to play. The comprehensive radial approach enables one to consider various things while making decisions. Also, this is not a linear process, it is a back and forth process requiring us to revisit the various aspects of design to refine them. This implies an important understanding that life itself is a journey without a destination and it has rough patches, digressions, and detours on the way.
- The journey is yours, others are merely contributors
The faculties, jurors, and peers are mere facilitators to enhance the design; the entire process belongs to you. Understanding that we are the captain of our ship motivates us to navigate our journey in our own unique way. It makes one think through their choices and own up to their decisions and their consequences.
- Quitting is not a solution
Whoever says they haven’t thought about quitting architecture is probably lying. However passionate one might be, the architectural study tests an individual’s patience before they break. There’s no surprise that many students drop out of the course. But those who do make it through, learn that quitting is just not an option. A design, however bad, is still a creation, and only going on will bring improvisation. No design is great to start with and it takes time and reflection to develop it further. This teaches a very important life lesson that only attending to the problem will solve it. Quitting is never a solution.