As a kid, the structures and spaces around me always fascinated me. Everything in my surrounding intrigued me, be it a fancy restaurant or a friend’s garden. It was amusing to see how people interpreted spaces in their own unique manner.
I was only 13 years old when I came across architecture as a profession. And that was it. I have wanted to become an architect ever since.
But was it enough?
Here are a few things I wish I was aware of before signing up for a career in architecture.
Table of Contents
Architecture is Not Just Designing
Design is, most definitely, the most visible part of architecture. But Architecture is more than just designing.
As much as it is about aesthetics, it is also about creating habitable spaces which are in rhythm with the surrounding. Environmental conditions, construction techniques, client requirements, functionalities of the structure, and human psychology play an integral part in developing spaces.
With that said, not everyone wants to design after they have graduated. To find your calling, you have to be open to the ideas of working and exploring all the opportunities for having a career in architecture.
If you are just choosing a career in architecture just because you are good at sketching and painting, you are in it for the wrong reasons, my friend.
Architects can make their client’s dreams become a reality.
Look at the Time Management Benefits
There are a lot of time management benefits that we, as students, neglect. When a project begins, most of the students get involved so much in the designing, concepts, and ideas that it leaves them with a less amount of time to execute their thoughts into drawings and models.
Because of this, pulling an all-nighter seems like the only option to complete the submission on time. This is not at all healthy for our system, however, cool it might sound.
Don’t keep everything for the last minute
A simple way to prevent those last-minute mishaps is by not procrastinating. Having a perfectly timed schedule always helps to keep work, studies, and health intact.
Strategic time distribution and planning is the key to keep all the tasks on track. This will also help in reducing this stress and meeting all the deadlines with no sleepless nights.
Be Healthy to be Productive
Prioritizing your mental and physical health over the deadlines is necessary. You don’t have to get overly invested in any concept at the cost of your health. Overdoing anything is risky.
Try to maintain the balance between your studies and your health. Keep a healthy diet. Having a schedule and planning is important so that you can take breaks from time to time to keep your mind focus on your ideas.
Communication is the Key
Keep on discussing your project
Creative blocks are very common for every architecture student. It’s okay. Just ask for some guidance from your faculty. Discussing designing principles and ideas with your colleagues and getting their feedback is a very helpful process.
By asking someone for their opinion, they simply introduced you to alternative approaches for the same situation.
Architecture is a very collaborative process. (I cannot emphasize this enough). The more you discuss, the more are your chances of improving your design.
Apart from my friends, my trick was to discuss my project ideas with my mom. She has been my best critique throughout. There were two reasons for this. One, I would get an idea of how a non-architectural background person would see my design. And two, no filter whatsoever.
Be Open to Criticism
A little heads-up! There are going to be countless presentations with a lot of criticizing.
While we welcome constructive criticism, understand that it differs from just criticism.
Architecture is very subjective. Everyone might have very conflicting opinions. So, accept the criticism and take it into consideration while keeping your designing principles the same.
Defend Your Work
Everyone will criticize your work from time to time, stand up and defend what you firmly believe in. If you want to grow and become a better designer, you’ll have to learn where to draw a line.
For the longest time, I would listen to the criticism and just accept what the jurors had to say (even if I didn’t agree with them). And when I realized and started defending my work, they found something else to criticize.
You just have to make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to be happy with your designing principles and your design approach.
To have a career in architecture, one must realize that classroom knowledge should be a supplemental learning experience. The more you learn about architecture on your own, the more knowledgeable you will be.
Make it a point to learn all the important software beforehand. Even if you join a tutor for these softwares, YouTube and Google will be your best teachers.
Reading books will give up inspiration for great design ideas and for having your own designing principles which you can workaround.
Research is one of the most vital parts of a project. Before initializing the work, keep in mind to have clarity of the program, site, and client specifications mentioned.
Keep on Learning
As an architect, you get to learn something new every day. To keep up with the latest trends and techniques, you must be updated with your knowledge.
Observation is your Guide
As an architect, you have to be a good listener and observer.
Spend Wisely on Stationery
Architecture in India is an expensive course. And, on top of that, you get to use all those fancy architecture supplies.
Most of the items listed on a page, given to me at my orientation, weren’t essential at all. I had to be very mindful while spending on stationery. Spending on these supplies is what we are all guilty of. With that said, they might come across as very useful while purchasing, but mind you, they are costly and most of the time, unnecessary.
Document and Backup Everything
Keep a photographic record of EVERYTHING. The process models, the process sheets, every trial sketch, and every other drawing that seems useless at that point in time. This helps in knowing how far you have come in your project. And in the long run, the documentation will help in your portfolio building.
The software we use for 3D modeling crashes if the files become very heavy. And as fate might have it, more often than not, the file is most like to crash the night before your jury.
These last-minute experiences are traumatic and make you miserable. The best solution is to keep on backing up all the data from time to time.
Goodbye Social Life
I don’t remember attending a single event in the 5 years of my course.
With the amount of workload, having a social life or meeting friends was not possible. This might get overwhelming sometimes.
But if I look back, I didn’t mind the struggle.
Music is your soulmate
The connection between music and architecture is very ancient. Music will always help through those designing phases when you don’t want any distractions. It also used to make me focus more on my details while I was drafting.
Internships are The Best Guides
Even if your curriculum suggests only 6–12 months of internships, try to have more on-site experience. This is the best way to understand the reality of construction. Your fundamentals are very clear if you have worked and experienced the on-site working process.
The internships will help you understand the functioning of different architecture firms. This will give you a rational idea of what you would like to pursue after your schooling.
No Easy Rewards for a career in architecture
If you are choosing a career in architecture for money, again a wrong reason.
Architecture in India is a very undervalued profession.
Many people just assume that Architects make loads of money. (How I wish that was true!) You have to be patient and trust the process with your hard work.
As in any other profession, even in architecture, you have to struggle to become a brand name. There is no shortcut to success.
That said I’ve learned a lot in these 5 years of my architecture journey. However, time-consuming and painstaking the process was, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Being a successful Architect in India is a very tedious affair, but now, I am ready for the journey.