An isolated and closed group, the architectural community lacks an exchange of ideas, among ourselves and with the outside world. There is a lot of stigma around architecture, which leads to miniscule but extremely crucial issues such as working for peanuts and having clients who end up becoming designers in a few months instead of a gruesome 5 years!
The importance of a Medical Degree (Sorry fellow doctors) is such that no patient would argue about the fees, methods or solutions given by a doctor. Architects endure a similar period of intense education and learning, and polishing their skills. However, the profession isn’t as respected. What our community lacks is an openness about Architecture and Architects. We need to talk about Architecture, not just within our community, but also in the society as a whole.
Journalism is a platform which can increase communication, constructive criticism, ideas and innovations within the architectural community, and share it with the world.
With a growing audience and a huge number of Architects showing interest in Architectural Journalism, this career option has never been more viable and sought after. Architecture colleges are full of creativity, and art is not subjective. So why stick around with the stereotype?
If you have been thinking about this career option and don’t know how to proceed, here is a checklist on how to become an Architectural Journalist!
1. Get an Architecture Degree
You’ve probably already done that or are in the process!
Architectural degree is extremely important, as it gives you the technical knowledge and skills to understand and write about architecture. From our intangible jargon to knowing what a buttress is, an architecture degree will help you analyse and understand, before writing.
Yes. Read. Not just about architecture!
Reading is an important tool to increase your vocabulary, widen your perspective, educate yourself, and write better.
Reading articles by famous architects and architectural critics educates on how to write well and opinionate without being biased.
Here are a few notable articles on architecture, written by famous architects and critics, reviewed for you! (As published on Rethinking the future)
Write whenever you aren’t reading! Writing however isn’t complete until you get an outside opinion, review or someone to proofread. Good writing requires a lot of practice and criticism will only help you grow.
Keep writing, for yourself, your own social media, or for platforms like Rethinking the future and other websites.
Tip- QUANTITY OVER QUALITY! I know this is the exact opposite of the advice generally given. But quantitative writing is a way of letting all that creativity flow. Quality can be adjusted by editing your own articles, once all your ideas are out!
Here are a few tips on writing about architecture, inspired by the book Writing About Architecture: Lange, Alexandra.
4 Be Up-to-date
An important part of journalism is being ahead of the trends and news in architecture. This means being on top of every source and knowing what is happening in the architectural community. It requires immense research and reading.
This again, comes from reading a lot. Follow major architectural journalists and websites, across all social media platforms, to keep you updated about the community. Make it a part of your morning routine!
One of the best ways for skeptics to venture into architectural journalism, and for determined future architectural journalists to take the first step towards their goal, is internships.
Part time internships, like the WFH Internship at RTF, can be a good option for working architects or students. It is a great way to learn and gain confidence in writing, while having your articles published!
Not convinced? Here are 8 Reasons to pursue internship in Architectural Journalism!
6. Look for opportunities.
A fresh field, architectural journalism lacks opportunities when it comes to higher education or jobs. The lack of opportunities actually begins in college itself, failing to educate students about the profession.
With limited options for masters and even less job opportunities for freshers, architectural journalism might seem daunting.
The bright side to this is you get to make your own path. With pioneers like Apurva Bose Dutta and Gautam Bhatia (Pioneers of Architectural Journalism In India Part- 1) to inspire you, explore your options in gaining necessary skills and knowledge in the field.
Here are 8 Masters Options For Aspiring Architectural Journalists, to get you started!
7. Find your niche
Even within architectural journalism, there are various tangents. Interests and writing styles are unique, and cannot be grouped under a single umbrella.
Explore your style in writing and interests in architecture. There is so much more to be uncovered in this profession, don’t let it limit you!
Tip- Follow architectural journalists with varying styles of writing and subject matter. This will broaden your perspective and knowledge about availability of different content and help you find your own forte!
8. Take the leap!
Having said that, what is life without risks!
A fast-growing career option, the relevance of criticism in architecture is being realised within the community. We are a focused group of writers, bringing the architectural community to the forefront.
Journalists have been criticising architecture since we started building. Most of this criticism comes from people with zero knowledge of architecture. For example, few of the most publicly criticised structures are actually buildings that the architectural community adore and look up to! This includes the CCTV Tower by Rem Koolhas, Qatar National Stadium by Zaha Hadid, Walt Disney Museum by Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum by FLW, etc. The comments and criticism they received are not only invalid, but extremely shallow, considering the technological and structural marvels these projects are.
An architectural journalist would never compare The Gherkin by Norman Foster to the human body/ private parts (Yes, the mainstream media had the audacity to do that!), considering the innovative design built with wind resistance in mind and its inspirational sustainable approach which allows it to use only 50% of the energy a building of its size in London would consume. This appreciation and technical knowledge is unique to architects.
Architectural journalism is not just about criticising buildings and architects (although, the need for it is evident). It is also about bridging the gap between the architectural community and laymen. The need for architecture to reach mainstream media is undeniable.
It begins with understanding your importance as an architectural journalist in the society, and doing your part in uplifting this veiled community.
With that confident note, and growing interest, hope to see you out there, fellow architectural journalists!