How many times have you heard people say they want to pursue architecture or they want their kids to take up this stream because they “draw well“. Then, there is the belief that architecture is only about buildings or that architecture colleges are all about fun with no technical work. These are just a few of the many misconceptions that people have about architecture. However, it is only after one studies in an architecture college, that these fallacies begin to slowly evade. Similarly, my journey from the first year to the fifth year in an architecture college brought along an array of knowledge, skills and some renewed beliefs. Here is a list of 8 such irreplaceable lessons: 

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Why Brad Pitt looks better than the average human being

Ever heard a thing called the Golden proportion? The first lesson I learned in an architecture college is that beauty and aesthetics are beyond mere colors and unique shapes. Rather, it is about the right combination of scale and proportion. The Basic Design studio exercises in the first year focussed on learning to play with the length, breadth and height of things to understand which ratio appeals and which does not. The same when applied to buildings, is the reason some standout and some become a sore to the eyes.

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Proportions _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Presentation Matters!

As intuitive as designing is, the ability to express our ideas through legible drawings and specific words is equally important. In the initial years, all my focus was only on designing, often leading to the juror yawning through my entire presentation. That is when I learned the difference between an ordinary portfolio and an engaging one. Learning to employ softwares like Autocad, Sketch-up and Photoshop to convey our proposals is an important skill that an architecture college empowers you with. In addition, the grilling juries and seminars throughout the course leave one with better verbal dexterity.

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Presentation _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Why Patience tops the pyramid of Success

Design is subjective, that is a given. However, it requires immense patience to accommodate the opinions and feedback from varied faculty, professionals and jurors while still staying true to our original concept. Constantly, reworking on our designs to incorporate relevant changes, sticking to submission deadlines or sometimes the extended deadlines and waiting for hours outside the crowded print shops to finally lay hands on our sheets. All of this teaches the kind of patience that now steers us through difficult client meetings and inevitable construction delays.

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Patience _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Why an Architect should know a little of Everything

Back in the first year, architecture seemed simple – plan, section, elevation and we were done. By the time I reached the fifth year, I realized that architecture might begin at conceptualizing designs, but it encompasses so much more. As subjects like Structures, Building Services and Project Management come by, the general misconception that architecture is only about making spaces “look nice” eludes away. Architecture is equally about functionality, about working service cores that complement the aesthetics, about the cost, the materials, coordination among varied disciplines and about teamwork!

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Teamwork _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Why Mumbai can never be a Shanghai

Rather, why it should not be. Context, a word that we start hearing right from the first year of an architecture college but actually understand much later. Looking around, we can find most construction not responding to their context because it has been built by ambitious humans and not designed by architects. A major part of learning architecture is about creating designs that submit themselves to the site and surroundings and not the other way round. As Architect Eliel Saarinen expressed,

“Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context
 —a chair in a room, a room in a house,
 a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.”

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Context _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

How Architecture is no different than democracy

For the people, by the people, of the people. The genius loci of both democracy and architecture are people. Every year, as part of the college’s settlement study trip, we visited a new place, learning about new people, new cultures and new ideologies. This process sensitized us, students, towards identifying the needs of different people and working with them in varying environments to meet those expectations.    

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People _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Looking at nothing is important

Learning architecture enabled me to visualize the empty space between built objects as crucially as the object itself. Referred to as the negative space in the figure-ground theory, it binds together all individual figures into a meaningful rhythm. Thus, making it equally important to design “nothing-ness”

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Figure-Ground _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Believe in the Process

Lastly, being in an architectural college, I learned the importance of the journey over the destination. The goal is to develop the skill of being process-oriented and not product-oriented. One should not hesitate to throw away a pre-determined solution and start afresh. The ability to zoom in and out from a micro to a macro scale is what architecture really entails. 

Process _©Architect Matthew Fredrick

Jagriti Jhunjhunwala, is an Architect and an Urban Designer, suffering from an obsessive need to bring forth stories of people and places through the lens of humanity. Keeping quiet is not one of her many skills. Although, you should know, she is rumoured to be a feminist.