Architecture is the collective process of designing, planning and constructing buildings. Well, that definition holds true for architecture of the 20th century, todays’ definition of architecture has expanded much beyond the conventional meaning of the word partly due to ever changing and evolving roles of an architect. Today’s architecture involves a wide gamut of work an architect can delve into. This variance of work can largely be attributed to architect’s adaptability with the allied fields. Though this dynamism is achieved in the professional practice, the skills as well as the academic knowledge required for the same are rarely taught during an architect’s academic exposure. This outcry has been noticed by many well-known and prominent architects who have called upon an urgent need to improve and upgrade the quality of Architectural education taught in schools of Architecture. Simply to quote some of the main points from Patrik Schumacher (ZHA) on his thesis on the crisis of architectural education,
“ Architecture schools operate like art schools without any curriculum. Accordingly architectural education is detached from the profession and from societal realities & needs as expressed in real (public or private) client briefs.”
“ Too many teachers without professional work or experience use design studios in schools of architecture as vehicles for their own, largely isolated pursuits, with often highly idiosyncratic criteria of success.”
“ Students’ portfolios after five years of studying might not include a single design that could meet minimal standards expected from a contemporary competition entry. ”
Reinier De Graaf ( OMA ) also stated that ” there is a big gap between academia and architectural practice, and that there is an ignorance of the economic system that buildings are part of. “
According to a study performed by International Union of Architects (UIA), only 78 countries across the world have their architectural education being regulated by an authority. Many architects often practice in countries that they have not received their architectural education; there is a high need for a standardisation of the architectural education all across the world. A baseline standard and minimum criteria for all architects will help improve the quality of architects coming out of the academia. According to a survey conducted by Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC 2005) 78 countries out of the 91 countries who responded to the survey, have regulating authorities maintaining architectural education standards in comparison to 2 countries who have architectural education system but no regulating organization monitoring the standards and 6 other countries who do not have any formal architectural education system. A quick analysis of the appendix below shows how different nations fair on the number of schools of architecture, number of students of architecture, presence of regulating body for architecture education, duration of architecture course, registered architects and internship options. Though the more developed nations have better schools and quality infrastructure, other countries even lack a proper setup for nationalised system of education and practice. United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China, Japan, Germany, France, Spain and India have large number of registered architects practising within their country. Also the above countries have stringent laws and regulations that architects need to adhere to while practising. Almost all nations fare poor for the number schools and number of architecture students ratio as compared to the population of their country.
Appendix 1 – Architectural Education Standards and Requirements of Various Nations
A review of the several architectural education standards revealed that course requirements vary greatly from art and design focus to more technical aspects as building science and survey. The section below discusses the education standards of different countries :
1. Royal Institute of British Architects:
The architectural education standard requirement of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) mandates anybody qualifying as an architect to have completed at least five years of University education and completed a minimum of two years of practical experience. The typical route for qualification includes the completion of part 1 through part 3, where part 1 is the completion of three years of fulltime undergraduate degree and gaining a year of practical experience; part 2 is the completion of two years of fulltime B.Arch or M.Arch degree followed by a 24 months practical experience; and finally part 3 is the completion of examination in professional practice and management to become a registered architect.
2. National Architectural Accrediting Board:
National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is the organization responsible for the development of standards of architectural education in the United States and procedures to verify that each accredited architectural program meets the set standards. The NAAB accredits professional degrees in architecture offered by institutions with U.S. regional accreditation. Currently, there are 153 accredited programs offered by 123 institutions. The NAAB develops standards and procedures appropriate for the education of architects. These standards are developed by architectural educators, practitioners, regulators, and students.
- Arch typically a 5-year program
- Arch, typically a 2 or 3-year program
3. Australian Institute of Architects:
The Australian Institute of Architects is the professional body for architects in Australia to provide professional support and advice for architectural community and advocate the value of architecture and architects. In addition the professional body is also responsible for setting standards for architectural education programs along with the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) and Architect Registration Boards in each state and territory.
Similar to the Bristish standard R.I.B.A – any person in Australia qualifying as an architect needs to have completed at least five years of University education and completed a minimum of two years of practical experience.
4. Council of Architecture, India:
Unlike any other country discussed earlier, Council of Architecture of India requires all architectural students to qualify in the aptitude test in architecture before admission in an accredited institution. After admission into the architectural program the council requires all individuals to complete certain number of hours on the 18 selected topics in stage one and seven topics in stage two. Architectural education is broken into two phases where phase one is where students are introduced to the different topics and in phase two they apply that information in more complex design projects. The two phases are separated by a compulsory internship of six months to a year.
B.Arch Course duration – 5 years.
Even though the duration and process of becoming an Architect is variable in different countries, almost all architecture schools and institutions try to impart a qualitative education that prepares an Architect to practise after graduation. Certain skills and knowledge imparted are utmost important while practising architecture and form the core basis for understanding, designing and building structures. Below are some common points all architectural institutions impart as education for students :
1. Design Studies and Design Integration: This includes an understanding of the design theory and process followed by the ability to gather information, apply analysis and critical judgement.
2. Documentation and Technical Studies, which includes understanding building systems, and materials, and construction techniques.
3. History and Theory studies which includes awareness of philosophical, cultural and political movements as it relates to art and architecture, understanding history and theory of Western, non-western, regional and indigenous architecture, and the ability to inform action through knowledge of historical and cultural precedents in architecture
4. Practice and Project Management, and Implementation and User Studies including the process of awareness and understanding of the conventional building project cycle and the roles and responsibilities of the architects and other participants
5. Environmental Studies that focus on awareness of social and cultural dimensions of place, and awareness and understanding the concepts and issues of ecological sustainability.
6. Communication Skill which includes understanding about the growing theory of representation and how communication methods are integrally tied to methods and outcomes, and the ability to communicate ideas through the exercise of skills of collaboration, speaking, writing, drawing, modelling and evaluation,
7. Elective courses which can include but not limited to the awareness of the broader cultural context in which architecture is practiced, understanding of the specializations associated with the discipline of architecture and expand intellectual horizons beyond the core competency requirements of the architecture program.
References : 1. Patrik Schumacher theses on the crisis of architectural education. Available at www.dezeen.com/2019/07/09/patrik-schumacher-crisis-architectural-education/ 2. uia-architectes.org 3. Suchismita Bhattacharjee , Shivashish Bose - Comparative analysis of architectural education standards across the Websites of various accreditation boards.