Architects are tasked with one of society’s toughest roles: building an improved environment for the present and an even better future. Where an architect receives his/her education greatly defines the kind of impact they have on their surroundings. Architecture has steadily become a sought-after career pursuit over the last decade. One of the premier institutions to impart exceptional training in the field, the Jamia Millia Islamia’s Faculty of Architecture & Ekistics is notable for its methodology, mélange of student diversity, and breath-taking campus landscape.
Located in the Okhla suburbs of Delhi, the buildings of the reputed JMI rise tall amidst the hazy city atmosphere, dotting the 254-acre campus with an awe-inspiring Mughal-era likeness. The architecture is befitting of the British Raj era in which it was founded; its atmosphere is interspersed with lingering whispers of stories past. JMI has the prestige of being one of the handful of Central Universities in India, an honor bestowed upon it in 1962. The Faculty of Architecture & Ekistics (FAE) has rapidly accrued merit in the 20 years of its establishment in 2001.
One of the finest architecture schools in the country, it ranks within the top 10 on the NIRF list. Let’s take a look beyond the degree to see what goes into making stellar architects…
‘Social Concern & Innovation’ – A Jamia Mission
FAE is a well-rounded department having Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees all under one roof. The Master’s degree, in particular, has an array of resourceful choices to specialize in; these are much-needed tools aimed at improving urban habitable conditions. Where few of them target urban growth, others impart expertise in less-developed architecture fields, like Healthcare or Recreational.
The M.Arch degree in Architecture Pedagogy, the first of its kind in India, is pioneering the field of Architecture Coaching by enabling thousands in imparting structured tutoring to a rapidly increasing architecture student populace.
Studying architecture is unlike any other course; it can be rigorous and demanding at times while being equally fulfilling. Sleepless nights, endless days, and merciless juries are familiar to anyone who has gone through it. FAE is no different in that respect; complete commitment & dedication are prerequisites to match up to the set precedent. As in any course, hard work pays off; notable alumni of FAE are doing well in good companies and have successful firms of their own.
Being part of a Central University, the course material is based on suggestions from the COA (Council of Architecture). Well-qualified, knowledgeable faculty are more than willing to go beyond textbooks to ensure learning takes place. In Jamia, education is not limited to studios alone; students experimenting with materials in the shadow of the architecture building has come to be a typical sight in late afternoons.
FAE offers very affordable education for its students. With a limited intake of 80 seats per year, competition is intense due to students from all over the country vying for an opportunity to study here. Additionally, 8 reserved seats for NRIs & foreign nationals ensure a culturally mixed bag in every batch. Jamia perpetuates fellowship & harmony among its inhabitants; they are bound to benefit from experiencing diverse cultures and backgrounds. Here, pupils are trained beyond hard career skills to instil good values in future professionals.
Discipline is second nature to teachers & students; all are courteous, helpful, and take education very seriously. It goes without saying that commitment, will to improve, hunger to learn and open-mindedness are essential qualities for anyone looking to enter FAE and sustain themselves there.
To join FAE, candidates are required to score in the top ranks of the JEE Mains –II paper (NATA ranks were being accepted up until recent years as well, but have since been stopped) in addition to having scored at least 55% in their 10+2 or equivalent exams. Jamia being a coveted school implies that cut-off ranks for the JEE paper can be as low as 3000-5000, and continue to come down each year as competition gets tougher. Once qualified, the candidate is required to fill Jamia’s application form, pay a nominal application fee and attend an online counselling session.
FAE publishes around 6-7 lists of placed candidates sorted into GAS (Government-Aided Seats) and SFS (Self-Financed Seats) batches. The only difference between both classes is the fees (GAS-11,000₹ approx., SFS-70,000₹ approx.), with the faculty remaining almost entirely the same for both. The 5-year program in FAE ends with the final year mandating an internship, allowing students the option of continuing employment at firms where they trained.
Diverse Backgrounds, Shared Interests
Being located in Delhi’s heart gives FAE students fantastic exposure as they are enveloped by a city steeped in layers of architectural heritage. Where other college curriculums include 1-2 architecture tours, FAE arranges trips every year to each part of the country, be it North, South, or North-East, enriching students’ understanding of histories & local techniques. The department itself is a hub of cultural exchanges since candidates from every part of India desire to study here. Being a Muslim-established minority Institute, Jamia reserves few seats for Muslims but does not alleviate others either.
Fully inclusive classrooms often consist of Keralites, Iranians, and Tamilians freely mingling among locals. It is clear from one glance at the social construct in the campus that Jamia is committed to merit-based education & promotes hard work over anything.
FAE goes beyond studio classes by endorsing hands-on workshops, seminars by field experts & extra-curricular activities, evident from experimental devices & murals in and around the beige-toned department building. Students from the neighbouring Engineering departments frequently come up to architects and strike up conversations about their creative projects. Budding inter-departmental friendships form invigorating ambiences of learning, fun and good-natured discussions.
Inside, bright & airy classrooms filled with drafting tables & high stools surround a central blue-tiled courtyard, notable for its stark rendering of the Vitruvian Man. Intriguing contraptions, elaborate models turning up in the most random of nooks are not new to the FAE building. The annual architectural fest ‘Fenestration’ is especially abuzz with commotion, peppered with students displaying rare glimpses of their talents, collaborating, and enjoying a break from rigorous routines.
There are few campuses better suited to study architecture in; lush green, spacious lawns, neatly trimmed hedges, and charming buildings create a serene atmosphere, with ample spill-out spaces for interaction. The open-air central canteen seating, large sports complex, gigantic library, gym & hostel buildings are amongst many perks enjoyed by the students. The hostel, having limited seats, has a separate admission procedure and fee amount. If unavailable, there are numerous PGs around the college to cater to the living needs of students.
With all this and more, FAE stands out in its contribution to the field by producing outstanding professionals sensitizing architecture through their nuanced education. Take Kaif Ali, a 20-year old 4th-year student who has designed makeshift quarantine shelters out of shipping containers to meet the challenges faced by the medical community during COVID. Ideas such as his are what FAE imbibes into their students, gearing them up to tackle real-world problems and give soul to their architecture.
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