Architecture is a profession of passion and Architecture school is a long haul to get there. Even though it is an arduous process, most people would agree that it is worth the knowledge that is gained throughout the course. Architectural education is not just about learning to design great spaces but also an opportunity to explore and learn a variety of skills which will be an asset outside of academia as well.
As students, we start to see the bigger picture and understand the intricacies of the profession only after halfway through the course but we all have few presumptions lingering in our minds until then.
These are a few presumptions I had in my first year of Architecture school:
- A degree in Architecture leads to limited career options such as Landscape Architect, Urban planner and Interior Designer: A degree in Architecture, in reality, lays a foundation to a series of career options in numerous creative fields such as Graphics and Video Game designing, Set designing for movies, Photography and Journalism to name a few.
- All-Nighters is a lifestyle throughout the semester: Even though during end semesters all-nighters are unavoidable due to the submission overload, if there is basic time management, we can avoid the last minute hustle and sleepless nights.
- Architects are solitary Geniuses: The reality is that whilst working in an Architecture firm, you will be working with a team and Architecture school allows you to practice this with numerous group projects.
Having said that, these are the Top 10 skills I acquired in Architecture School:
1. Becoming A Creative Problem Solver
Architecture school teaches and trains students in a unique problem-solving skill called “design thinking”. This is where students are taught to approach any problem from all angles and analyze data intricately based on numerous parameters. This, not only enables them to solve design-related problems but also helps them tackle various global issues (such as climate change, inequity or low-cost housing, to name a few) from a different perspective. Design thinking as a skill helps architects generate unique solutions and strategies which when applied through the medium of design can have everlasting impacts.
2. Thriving Under Pressure
In Architecture school, we learn to complete impossible tasks in unrealistic time frames and this has led us to not only cope but thrive under pressure. We also tackle crises better by staying calm and organized.
3. Time Management
The task of completing numerous submissions with a time constraint in Architecture school gives students an opportunity to learn to prioritize tasks and manage time wisely. Throughout the course, we hone this skill which helps us handle any time crunch in our professional life as well.
4. Handling Criticism
Architecture school is full of opportunities for critiques and feedback, and over time we learn to thicken our skin and also understand and integrate constructive criticism into our work.
5. The Importance of Presentation
No matter how much effort has gone into the assignment or how creative the design is, it will not receive the recognition it deserves until it is presented well. The course teaches students not only the importance of qualitative presentation but also encourages them to seek and explore creative and interesting ways to present their work which in turn leads to them discovering their personal style of work.
6. The Act Of Multitasking
Whether it is working on plans, sections, elevations and 3D views simultaneously or juggling various subject submissions at the same time, Architecture school trains students in multitasking.
7. To Be Process-Oriented And Not Product-Driven
The most important yet difficult skill for a designer to develop is being process-oriented, not product-driven, says Matthew Frederick in his book- ‘101 Things I Learned in Architecture School’.
He also explains in his book what it means to be process-oriented such as:
1.To seek to understand a design problem before chasing after solutions.
2.To not force-fit solutions to old problems onto new problems.
3.To make design investigations and decisions holistically.
4.To know when to change and when to stick with previous decisions.
5.To always ask “What if…?” irrespective of how satisfied you are with your solution.
8. The Significance Of Parti Pris
The term “parti pris,” in French, translates to “departure point,” but in Architecture, it often refers to the project design’s “big idea”. It is essentially a diagram. Since diagrams play a critical role in the design process and the representation of the design, parti pris is a tool with which a designer communicates the design to others.
Just as words and sentences help convey thoughts verbally, diagrams do the same in the context of design through drawing. Throughout the course of Architectural education, students learn the significance of parti pris and the various methods of representing it which helps them develop a personal style of parti pris over the years.
9. Marketing And Communication
Through the process of making numerous design portfolios throughout the course of Architecture school, students spend a lot of time with their work preparing for design reviews. This forces them to develop a narrative and a communication strategy that would appeal to the panel of Architectural critics. This further develops into a marketing skill when they graduate and have to face a client.
In an Architectural education, we learn the importance of networking as we branch out and interact with seniors and various other college students through mediums such as inter/intra college competitions, workshops, or fests specially conducted for Architecture students. This skill of networking improves over the years and helps us in our careers later on as we help make our name in the community of Architects.