It is nothing new that architecture school is a long haul. If you are doing just a bachelor’s, the 5-year professional degree is a tough and arduous process. If you choose to enroll for a couple more years of graduate studies it requires much more strenuous efforts. Architecture education teaches much else than just learning to design great spaces. Perhaps that is why architecture school becomes a great teacher of other life lessons too. 

Quite a lot of times I get asked how different architectural education is from other majors by people I have met. It does seem like everyone is interested in architecture, but no one really knows what it is or exactly how you go about it. That’s why it’s a fairly understandable question, really. Interestingly my answer is not that I learned how to draw plans and build models, it is much more than that. There are a few nuggets of wisdom that I learned during my course of education.

Thought Process 

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Since architects have such varied directions of work it calls for us to develop a wide range of creative and practical thinking. Architectural thinking is identifying problems that pertain to society, analyzing their pros and cons, and resolving them. It is essential to perceive these problems as opportunities in order to give back to society. When standing in front of a very challenging situation, architects get to make thoughtful choices when determining a solution and to analyze the effects of the moves they make. It is design, but it is also broader than design.

Architectural thinking is about perceiving the general public approaching a project to be able to produce these different ideas into a rich product. This process and these skills can be applied to any type of problem to make you more efficient and effective at solving it. Architectural thinking differs for everyone since every other person brings in a different response, moral, or set of skills to the table.


Consistent and repeatable results come from a process. An effective result is not born in a day. It requires an inflow of consistent efforts and a holistic process behind it. No one is really born with an innate knowledge of design; it comes with consistent research and practice. Clever ideas need to be consistently ripped apart from the inside out and need to be developed. As a student consistent efforts to learn new software, design processes, presentation techniques all come a long way to emerge as a strong candidate in the competitive field. The goal is to be a process-oriented designer and not a product-driven designer, an important skill a designer needs to develop.


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If my patience tolerance levels were at 3 when I started out, I’m sure by the time I graduated architecture school it would have definitely reached an 8. The fact that architects are not solitary geniuses and revolve around different persons might not be an obvious truth. While working in offices you always will be working with a team that includes people from other disciplines and architecture school definitely helps in hacking this through the galore of group projects no matter how much you despise the idea. Agreeably it is a maddened process but it is also a process that teaches valuable lessons of patience in how to work with other people and how not to. Teamwork is inarguably one of the most invaluable skills employers require because they want someone who can get along smoothly with others in the office in order to get a project going. Since architecture is a time-consuming field patience to deal with the design process, executions and results are highly essential in order to keep stability. 


Throwing away your precious ideas to try to experiment in an idea that is unconventional is a skill to be developed. Bending or even breaking the rules to solve the problem helps to spread your wings as a designer even when your professors or peers might not completely agree with you but you will not know until you take that plunge into the unknown whether it is trying out different presentation techniques, an uncannily unique concept, peculiar materials help in either discovering new finds that you would never have imagined of or learning from your mistakes to do better the next time. Agreeably not all the risks you take might pay off in life but understanding their range and inferences help you to survive the fall. However, always keep the mind open to unheard-of ideas and methods while designing. If not for them we would not have some of the most iconic structures we have today in our world.


Taking things lightheartedly

Architecture school definitely familiarized me with the concept of being comfortable in the obvious. Architecture can make you seem a little too bizarre to the spectators outside at times whether it is in measuring public washrooms, sketching in the middle of a busy street, or even chilling with the masons and workers on a construction site, a fair share of stares are guaranteed. 

Getting comfortable in all these peculiar habits helps you to not just finish your work on time but also to gain a higher level of confidence with the outside world.  Concentrating on what needs to be done and not taking everything too seriously during awful critiques and juries promotes a confidence boost helping you to focus on better presentations and lesser awkwardness which definitely helps in the future. 

The variety of architectural education reflects the reality of the profession. An architect’s role embraces a vast range of skills and conduct of thinking. While they are often perceived as generalists some do specialize in certain fields such as conservation, sustainability, conceptual work, project management, and even research work. These areas of architectural education can be loosely plotted out by drawing links from where you are now, to where you will be in the future, right through to what you will be doing as a practicing architect.


An architecture graduate, Merina is a strong believer of the "Less is More" idealogy, a principle which is not only evident in her designs, but one that bleeds into other facets of her life. A passionate writer with an insatiable curiosity for all things design, she is ever ready for soaking in some Vitamin D and a conversation over some freshly brewed chai.