Architects: What do they do?

Architects are a weird bunch of people who focus on the minutest details – be it of a building, an installation, a design, a painting, a material texture, and the list goes on! They use these details in making the societya more practical, aesthetic, and purposeful community space to be experienced. 

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Observation Skills of an Architect _©Borja Bonaque

It’s often said that architects shape the world we live in! But how exactly do they do it? What inspires them to design the spaces around us? Maybe they have some special power to turn imagination into reality. Or is it just a simple thing? After all, it’s just geometry and physics! But is it really that simple – Converting creative designs in the head to real-life-size three-dimensional structures? 

To create, one must first question everything.” says Eileen Gray. 

Well, it is to do with the way they observe and imagine this wide, beautiful world! And of course, questioning everything they see and design! 

Life in Architecture School

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The desk of an Architecture student _©

It’s fascinating how people’s perspectives and priorities change after entering Architecture school. People of the same age are hanging out with their batch mates while architecture students are worried about the project submission deadline and how the design concept would be translated into three dimensions! 

The worries now depend on whether the building design is in proportion, in harmony with the surroundings, whether the PC would be able to take the load of rendering such a heavy file within the stipulated time, hoping the software wouldn’t crash while saving and praying there’s no bug in the 3D file. The worry of the plotter printing the design on the right scale is just another aspect, to begin with! 

Plan for the night for other college students includes partying all night whereas for architecture students, it means a night with coffee and sections and elevation designs (oh! But they always have plans! [Pun intended] :P). And besides, another tiny but very important question by the professors that gives the student nightmares is, “Where is the North?” 

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Change in Perspective after entering Architecture School _©

Architecture school also instills in the students a kind of inquisitiveness, a quest to find out the ‘WHY?’ This, in turn, is reflected in the way an architecture student starts observing the surroundings. Having food with a friend in a restaurant wouldn’t just mean having snacks and coffee, the architecture student would get lost in the details of the shop interiors, the balance of furniture and space, the distance between the tables, the color palette, the play of light, the plumbing and electrical fittings and so on! 

It doesn’t end there, moving out of the restaurant, the observations move from looking at the street design to the niches to the shadows formed and not to forget, virtually taking measurements of numerous objects and structures to be able to incorporate correctly whilst designing!  

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Virtual measurements of everyday objects _©leewardists

This very habit of detailed observation grows with time, as they start observing the structural and firefighting details in the latter years of architecture school! They also start expressing their ideas more graphically – sometimes even while taking down notes! They start losing track of time once they’re engrossed in their AutoCAD file, with music in the background and not to forget, their coffee on the desk – only to realize its sunrise and time to sleep a little before heading to college and doing that submission. 

The birds chirping in the morning make them realize that they haven’t slept all night. Attending family functions and keeping track of celebrations become a thing of the past and nothing seems more important than completing the design at hand!

The Architect’s view and how they work

As an architecture student completes architecture school and enters the design studio as an Architect, the one thing that follows through is the quest to make the world a better living place and to question everything before even drawing a line on paper! As Norman Foster puts it well “As an architect, you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown.” 

The ‘WHY’ in designing helps architects choose the style of architecture as per the place, the function, and the surroundings – whether it should be vernacular, modern, sustainable, minimalistic, etc. 

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Increase in the level of detailing over the years _©

The learnings in architecture school come in handy when explaining to a client, a design detail or a fountain design, or a glass roof as the client puts forward his/her demands! 

Graphical explanations, renderings, 3d models, plans, and elevation designs are all sharpened by the time the student becomes an Architect and has to show the drawings to the client. Architects often get lost in their imagination, dreaming of how they would want the world to be if they were given a chance to redesign the entirety of their surroundings. 

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Change in perspective of Travelling Architects _©Leewardists

Architects’ view of the world can be understood by the way architects take photographs – be it while traveling to another country or just a photo walk in the neighborhood. Their photos focus usually on the quality of spaces and the important characteristics of that space such as materials, textures, forms, lighting, details, interior, the play of light and shadow, etc., while tourists want a picture of themselves with the famous monuments, architects travel to study the construction techniques, the materials used, the form of the structure, the environment of the place and so on.

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The Many works of an Architect _©hvostik via shutterstock

Architects, while watching movies too, focus on the set designs, the interiors, the lighting, etc. While watching movies like the Spiderman series, they think to themselves, the movie would not have been possible without the architects designing such tall buildings for Spiderman to swing by! It’s their vision that movies like these have been possible. 

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Turning ideas into reality _©Zozimus

Architects have a knack for problem-solving and it comes from the habit of questioning things. This skill not only helps the architects design better but also solve issues in life because it’s easier for them to put themselves in the user’s shoes. Architecture is one such field where there is constant learning and an amazing sense of gratification in seeing the drawings come to life! 

The learning continues at every stage of designing and construction and at every age of the architect’s life! As the number of projects increase, the architects look back at previous designs and think of how they can make the next one an even better space to be experienced. 

Architectural learning continues everyday _©

Architects often surprise themselves by using just their creativity and imagination to create things like multipurpose and minimalistic furniture designs to gravity-defying structures and much more! And this surprise keeps them going and appreciating the finer things in life!


A learner at heart, she finds happiness in feeding her curiosity by exploring new things and finding new art. An Architect, who reflects upon the world through her eyes and paints it with words!