You go about your entire life absorbing information. As a toddler, you are taught to distinguish between shapes and colours and learn a whole new language (or multiple ones) from scratch. Fast forward to age 17, you stand across diverging roads, each a career path you may explore for the years to come. So, what happens when you step into the world of architecture? You start by re-learning everything. 

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Preliminary years of Architectural Education. Photograph_

The Preliminary Years Of Architecture Education

Chris Downey, an architect, suffered vision loss following surgery to remove a benign brain tumour. He explains, “I rapidly realised that the creative process is intellectual.” I simply required fresh tools. 

Stepping into architecture school, the plethora of exercises is intended to train the students to view everything as layers of matter. Every object you see in your surroundings is evidence of what is defined as a ‘process’. The classrooms strive to ward off stigmas and encourage the pupils to think big. As we learn how to break down walls and come up with out -of -the box ideas, the comfort of being bounded within a room remains, being devoid of any social responsibilities. 

But gradually, questions arise. The more the number of questions, the more the design journey evolves. Amidst all the drawings and models, you gain insight into how much depth is contained within each project. 

Architecture is a language. You design to communicate, and this requires a lot of empathy. As important as sticking to your principles, it equally matters how well-versed you are about your surroundings. You design not just for yourself but for the entire humanity. It is undeniable that many historical structures were purely motivated by a need for self-indulgence. Emperors and kings built elaborate monuments to carry forward their legacy. But even then, the sheer fact remains that these buildings were built out of sentiment to pass down their stories to future generations. 

Architectural Education, Re-imagining broader perspectives©Terrence Zhang

You don’t merely gain perspective on design. Architecture teaches a lifestyle. The pile of assignments and the hectic work schedule continue until you learn to pause. It is easy to get carried away by the persistent goal of climbing up the ladder to greater ideas. At a certain point, you realise that this process is not linear. Achieving a balanced mentality prevents stubborn ideas. One must be confident to step aside and rethink their beliefs and priorities.  

 Architecture has the amazing potential to manoeuvre focus. The building pattern of a region speaks volumes about what interests are prioritised. A society of people who are well–aware of worldly affairs and constantly seek positive changes must have constant access to knowledge. Public spaces such as libraries have been a platform for light-hearted discussions and debates and a place to ponder while leafing through the pages of a good book. They are not mere structures that cease to exist over time but monuments that contain generations of thought processes. They celebrate literacy and generate a population with a sound mind.

What Has Architecture Taught Us Throughout This Pandemic? | Architectural Education

What are the issues faced due to the current pandemic? For starters, our social life has come to an abrupt halt. All of our routines, including earning a livelihood, must be carried out within the walls of our houses. Therefore, the need for healthier spaces that practice good hygiene must be considered. The concept of isolation shouldn’t necessarily translate to congestion. The idea is to create a barrier between humans and viruses. But most often than not, people have found themselves in closed quarters barricaded from movement. Pent-up spaces lead to pent-up emotions. And although the battle against this pandemic will finally be won eventually, the world will witness many martyrs who had to sacrifice their mental health for society’s physical well–being. Modern architecture has focused on catering to the system of nuclear families. Connecting people is left to social media, while buildings emphasise personal space. Ironically, this does not include aid professionals who are now managing their careers back home. Being accustomed to having separate spaces for their professional and personal life, the present scenario has left people working amidst the chaos of their homes. Shouldn’t residential spaces give more importance to functionality than blatant ornamental structures? 

Vernacular architecture has addressed this question by transcending design limits by minimising the distinction between the interior and exterior. It was prevalent when it was considered vital to be in touch with our culture. As a result, it enabled the residents to be in touch with their emotions and hindered the feeling of seclusion.

Architecture is a field which cannot be contained by a narrow spectrum of ideologies or functionality. In simple terms, it is a journey with no yellow brick road. So as potential architects, do we constantly try to evolve and embrace newer thoughts and methodologies or do we perpetually reflect on the past and create designs that reminisce about history and culture? The answer is yet another question -must the two be necessarily mutually exclusive? After all, Architecture is not a battle of sentimentalism vs practicality or aesthetic vs functionality. We aspire solutions that promote all of these elements with near -equal vigour and enthusiasm.

References: Architectural Education