An Architect’s Mind
Owing to the current pandemic situation, I step outside every day for a mandatory evening stroll in the gardens of my gated community for a breath of fresh air. I pause and try to absorb the breathtaking view of the high-rise towers silhouetted against a natural backdrop of a sunset, paddy fields and tree canopies. With several apartment complexes towering high into the sky and scattered in between lush greenery, one can see how urbanism is slowly making its way and spreading over what were once humble pastures and farmlands. The change in the typology of the built environment in the area is gradually transforming the essence of the place and, most importantly, its culture. But of course, through the lens of a common man, one can merely notice how the old landscapes of their own hometown are slowly but surely changing. This got me wondering how anyone without an architecture or design background would perceive my life through their eyes.
A regular individual would probably describe a building or a landscape he or she is enamoured with as beautiful. A person from an architecture background, however, dissects the piece of architecture and comes up with several explanations as to how each element of the building relates with each other in perfect harmony, which makes it beautiful. Architecture changes our lifestyle as well as our way of processing the world around us. Any architect or designer can attest to this fact. The question is, is this a blessing or a curse?
An Archi Student’s Life
Getting a degree in architecture sure is tedious and wildly exhausting. Pulling all-nighters, getting blade cuts while model making, never-ending list of deliverables to work on while trying to catch up on our “redos”, all while on a caffeine high seems like an impossible feat or even an exaggeration to anyone from a non-architecture background.
“Architecture students? All they do is sketch all day.”
“Other than making drawings and going on class trips, what else do architecture students even do?”
“Are architects even required? Surely a structural engineer is all you need to build a house.”
Every architecture student must have come across such questions at least once in their lives, which is often plain frustrating. Making others step in our shoes and understand our plight is probably one of those times when architecture seems like a curse. We put our heart and soul into our projects only to have them undermined, which makes us feel that our efforts are invalidated. On the upside, seeing our vision come to life after months and months of hustling is definitely very rewarding. In the case of a student of architecture, the moment our jury gets done and finally getting time to rest is one of the best feelings in the world.
An Architect’s Lifestyle: Upsides and Downsides
“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us,” remarked Winston Churchill in 1943. Architects also play a significant role in shaping the culture of society since architecture is something that can have a profound impact on humans on a personal level. Everything, from the exterior form of the building to the interior finishes used, is responsible for the way we live our lives and who we are. Being part of a bigger cause and having the responsibility to quite literally build the future is indeed rewarding and immensely satisfying.
The most wonderful part of architecture as a profession is how it allows creative pursuits. It doesn’t put you in a box and turn you into a mechanical worker with no mind of its own. A career in architecture allows or rather encourages you to get your creative juices flowing, due to which it’s a great career choice for those who want an outlet for their creative expression. Being able to see the fruits of your labour clearly is an added bonus.
There are many reasons why architecture can be a blessing due to its very enriching nature. Still, it has several downsides, too which sometimes, is all we focus on. The incomparable amount of stress one has to go through in architecture school is perhaps the biggest downside of them all. Mental health challenges that students face in the field is an area that needs to gain importance. It also begs a revamp in the curriculum so as to cater to better mental health and lifestyle for students. After graduating, architects are often not paid as much as they should be despite putting in long hours, which is the sad reality of today. It takes years of experience to get established and make decent money.
Now it’s time to circle back to our original question, is being in the architecture field a blessing or a curse? It depends entirely on who you are and what you make of it. Are you a creative that loves challenges and powers through no matter what? Do you enjoy site visits and case study tours? Are you willing to sacrifice certain things just so that you can witness your vision coming into life? If so, this field is definitely for you.
Soon you will find your brain rewired and interpreting the world in your own unique and insightful way, which is perhaps a superpower that only architects and designers unlock in their lifetime.
Jan Doroteo. “9 Reasons to Become an Architect” (2016). ArchDaily. [online]. Available at:
https://www.archdaily.com/793953/9-reasons-to-become-an-architect [Accessed 20 August 2021]
Michael Riscica “10 Reasons why you SHOULD NOT become an Architect”.Young Architect [online]. Available at:
https://youngarchitect.com/why-you-should-not-become-an-architect/ [Accessed 20 August 2021]