We barely know the true meaning of architecture before entering architecture college. As we proceed, architecture unfolds itself like a large spread of appetizing food on a platter – a splash of flavors.
As a child, buildings and design fascinated me. I always loved to uncover the idea and thought process of the designer behind any building. This made me think that I was interested in architecture and so I enrolled myself into an architecture college. The moment I had my first interaction with the professors and seniors, I knew architecture was no cakewalk. I realized that architecture is much more than just drawing up plans – architecture connects to the human mind in ways we cannot even comprehend.
When each of the students was asked why they chose architecture and what architecture meant to them, we got multiple answers and that is when I was first exposed to different thoughts and ideas. Delving deeper into the subjects, and the course, at every step, a new door that was previously unopened by me, magically opened up before me, transporting me to this whole new world – a world where everything slowly started to have meaning.
The education system in architecture colleges is such that it teaches and trains young aspirants to be self-sufficient in whatever they do. Be it, technical skills, soft skills, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and the ability to visualize and produce. This five-year program is a holistic approach to the essence and basis of architecture pedagogy.
Here’s how the five years of my architectural course went by (though it might be different for every student, the takeaway and learnings remain constant):
The first year was the one to pass by very soon. It was the most enjoyable year for me. When I turn back and look at it, I understand how the learnings of this year have been the foundation of my learnings in the years to follow.
At this stage, architecture was introduced to us as a mere subject of design. Design is a broad terminology, encompasses several elements and principles. The whole of my first year went by thoroughly understanding and applying these elements and principles into the design.
The second-year was when we started having a deeper involvement with the term architecture. Profound vision in subjects like building construction and materials, structures, and history of architecture aided the entire architectural design process.
YEAR 3 & 4
As the years into the course increased, so did the detailing of each subject. More technical knowledge was lent while some hands-on experience was gained by going on surveys, documentations, and site visits. The fourth-year felt more serious – with large scale projects taken up for design, it was important to make more structure-based designs rather than having just a concept based approach.
A design thesis makes for the most important element of this journey of 5 years. It showcases what we have learned and imbibed all along. Combining all my learnings, and my aspiration into one project is what the thesis was like for me. The fifth-year also entailed professional practice a.k.a. internship. This gave me a piece of the outside world.
As a school student, I saw drawing and painting only as a hobby, but the architecture college taught me how it’s the most important way of communicating our vision and ideas. This has now made me more appreciative of art in general. Architecture college taught me how to go with the flow and adapt myself to any changes that came by – the transition from manual drafting to using software for our drawings, shows how we are capable of transitioning ourselves and how we grasp the best of both worlds.
As students, when we felt overburdened with submissions and deadlines (of not just 1 but 6-7 subjects at once), we were being prepared for the work pressures we now know of as professionals. From facing externals in a jury to speaking to common people while on our site visits, to engaging in conversations with masons for learning the art of construction, to participating in different events and competitions, we have done it all. These acquired experiences have added value to our architectural education.
I spent five years in architecture college and even to this date, I am learning. Professional proficiency is not something we gain by sitting enclosed within the four walls of any classroom, but professional knowledge is nothing without the foundation of basic knowledge that we receive in college. Even if at some stage, we don’t see the point of going along with this, we must understand that finally, it all works out for the best! Having the zest to learn is what makes a difference at last. Dream. Work. Repeat.