It is the art of beautifying buildings.
Architecture is about creating fancy exteriors and elevations.
Architects also do interiors.
They draw plans and their job is done.
Architects mainly design houses.
Architects also create structural layout.

These are a few common preconceptions about the enigmatic profession that Architecture is. For our discipline is so diverse, everyone has their own definition. One could say some of them are valid, but there also exist a zillion other ways by which we could express the frameworks of Architecture and Design.

Since our very first days at design school, our perception of what Architecture truly involves has been under constant change. Thanks to the subjective nature of it, none of them are false, nor absolute; they are all notions collectively building up our beloved art! It is multifaceted and it is for us to apprehend its facets in the profoundest of ways to be able to express what Architecture is.

Architecture School goes a long way in making us understand our discourse as it is. Besides, it teaches us a few aspects in an indirect way – in other words, they are learned by student architects to thrive and succeed both at school and in practice.

Here are a few things, some unforgiving and rather critical, that one learns when pursuing Architecture at school.

Space is Space is Space

However much the faculty and professors insist on the importance of plans and sections in a design, one should always acknowledge that architectural space is three dimensional. Although conventional drawings are absolutely significant to understand the relationship and contiguity amongst the elements and enclosures we design, space pervades all the three axes and dimensions, all of which are important. 

Design of a project has to happen space by space, and not just in the top, front and sectional views. After all, it is the space we design to render experiences that is at the very core of our discourse.

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Kazimir Dynamic Space Model _©2B2 Architects

Practicality vs Perfection

Midway into Undergrad School, one begins to experience a notion of a lack of completeness or perfection when designing for a project. We often hear our professors say, “You should do as much as you can for your design project”, whereas doing as much as one can would still elicit a comment or a critique about that one aspect which could have been designed otherwise, better or even more aesthetic. 

Thanks again to the subjectivity of Architecture, at times design might seem to never end. True – one cannot please everyone with a single design iteration; the goal is to make things work and provide a practical solution for the design problem at hand, whilst being mindful of the spatial aesthetics and structural stability. Spending too much time perfecting a design would not yield fruitful returns in the long run.

Curves are okay

Although one faces criticism for designing a not-so-conventional building at school, it is still a component of exploration on the way. It is by going beyond conventions and status quos that one learns to do things out of the box. The unconventional, the curvilinear, the fluidic, the non-straight are all as Architecture, as the rigid, old boxes and the rectilinear built forms. The level of detail and spatial attributes we learn, while creating such design is way more fascinating, making it easier to design and implement normal details for a conventional form.

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Galaxy SOHO _©Zaha Hadid Architects

School is all but the beginning

Right from junior years, student architects are used to hearing that what is taught and learned at Architecture school, is just the beginning to the diverse domains and aspects in the design discourse – not even grazing half the surface. There is a humongous deal of things out there that could only be learned when in the profession, hands-on. And it is for us to make sure that our bases are strong before stepping into the outside world, to not shy away but be open to learning more novel, practical, and relevant things from the profession.

School alone is not enough

With the world on a sprint, new technologies and innovations in design and construction are more rapidly taking place than ever. And it is just necessary to make an extra effort and familiarize oneself with what’s new and now. Fair enough, school teaches what has been in practice, what has been the norm for quite a while, and it is not sufficient when setting foot into the profession. 

Plus, it is hardly feasible for academia to equip students with everything required and contemporary. Which is why trying to make oneself aware of changes and innovations in the discourse is quite indispensable to thrive in the zeitgeist even better. Acquainting yourself with things, in general, is the most essential thing to endure in this fast-spinning world.

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Studio Culture in Architecture Schools _© University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning

Be open to all ideologies

Upon coming across the ideologies and theories put forward by multiple designers and “starchitects”, one should not always pick up one amongst them, and try and apply the same to every design problem faced. Having a favorite Architect is okay, but that does not mean turning a blind eye towards other designers whose theories are equally challenging. 

There is always something to learn from every designer out there, and it is quite necessary to pick up what is needed from wherever we could, when at school. And yes, less is not always more, less is more only when more is of no good!

Relevance is everything

When pursuing any domain in design, you are just as good as your relevance to time and place. Design depends very much on the suitability of its usage with its context and surroundings, be it physical, functional, environmental, and so forth. Relevance to time, on the other hand, is highly critical; one cannot design anything wherein its users cannot relate to it. All designs should be made to endure the turbulence of time, to stand relevant and flexible for their usage. Variation, transformation, and progression are the constants in a profession as ours and we as designers can never fail to address them.

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Seeking Relevance through Sustainability and Net-Zero design _© CMG Landscape Architecture and Gehry Partners

The growth is slow and steady

As long as the Undergrad Architecture course takes to complete, such is the rate at which one could expect the returns from the discipline. It is not always possible to receive good returns upon entering the field right away; it takes quite a while for the work to get recognized, given its quality and workmanship, which later influence what one gets back for the services rendered to potential clients. One’s personal growth as an Architect is slow, steady, but after a certain time, increases substantially.

Create your niche

As apparent as it may seem, the discipline of Architecture is getting more and more crowded with time, in a country like India that is not very aware of our profession. You are working so hard for half-a-decade to become the Architect you want, but there are too many Architects out here in proportion to the number of people that actually hire our services. And a harsh truth is this: the society will never be easy on you – it will replace you in a matter of a few minutes if you were to stop existing. So, it is entirely acute to try from an early stage, create a niche, and work on oneself towards becoming irreplaceable.

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Optimization in Design – A Niche Domain _©Wikipedia (Sagrada Familia  and Thallus by Zaha Hadid Architects)

Life matters

Right from the beginning of Undergrad, we are taught to overwork and devote ourselves and our personal lives wholly to the Architecture Gods! Despite the despair, it is still possible to have a sound, healthy life, without giving in to such stereotypes. There are certain Architects out there who maintain a good balance between work and life, people whom we can very much learn from. 

At the end of the day, we are also a profession like every other, and it is for us to balance life and work in a way that we don’t sacrifice one for the other. After all, we are here to live a life and not live a profession!


Still a student midway in his Undergrad, Harish interests himself in using the medium of the Written Word and believes in innovation and tech to venture beyond irrelevant status quos in Design and Architecture. He aspires to expand the reach of our disciplinepast just cities, to the non-urbanas well. He feels that the design discourse does not have enough professional critics, and wishes to become one someday!