Cartoon by Roger Penwill

No, I’m not talking about intimacy but about designmacy! I regularly have dialogues with my fellows when I advocate digitalized pedagogy. Though we have abundant technological advancement, the design studios have fundamentally remained unchanged. We are not ready to change.
If we simply Google these words, Architecture, Inspiring Architects or Top Architects, the students will see the corresponding images and get inspired and pumped up. They feel that the sky is the limit; eagerly trying to explain what they would like to create. But as soon as they enter the unchanged designing studios, we tell them, NO! You can’t design like that because if you do so then how will you produce drawings?
                                                                                          Inspiring architects

And, there we go cutting wings, handcuffing digitalization and the student’s idea is flushed down the drain. The bright, enthusiastic student will just end up designing something which they can ‘draw’! We force them to think in terms of only what can be drawn, simply because WE can’t make them tech-pro.
Teachers in the field are much senior and even much younger ones whom I expected to be smarter than me with more foresight try to be pencil fundamentalist. Reasons being, they are taught by pencil fanatics. “No, no it’s very earlier for them to create on sketchup, let them first learn how to draft,” is the usual refrain when the question of being more tech-friendly is brought up. Really? You are against sketchup! (I should just not utter about ‘coding’ which needs to be taught now if they get interested in parametric)
                                                                                                  Top architects

I accept that hand skills are important. For that, make them slog in their first year, as much as they and you can. But then I don’t see this happening. These pencil fanatics should bug every student to correct the way they create dimension ticks when they enhance their hand-skills. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. No slogging happens in first year and hence they keep on doing this till third year and the world is totally at different level while they are still at the Stone Age.  I would be delighted to see awesome hand work being produced, trust me!
Sketching is a skill and so is using computers!
Wherever we see, we find digitalization as a tool to transform our imagination into reality.  Today, there is practically no workplace in the world where we appreciate architects using a pencil and a tee scale to produce drawings, but still we follow the same traditional practice in our studio. Agreed, it helps in evolving creative thinking and perception, but the question is, in today’s era of technology why should we continue with these traditional design studios?Doesn’t digitization help in evolving creative thinking and perception?
Have you seen the Sketches of Frank Gehry (yes, the movie and sketches) and his work?
Doesn’t digitization doesn’t help in evolving creative thinking?
                                                                        Sketch by Frank Gehry

To those who are against tech-friendly design studios, I have some questions for them. Why don’t we learn to live without cell phone and communicate with handwritten letters if we are such fanatics about hand-skills? Or, how about leaving imprints about our generation carved on cave walls. Even that’s a skill, which is diminishing, and it helps in creative thinking! We had gracefully accepted that we can’t live without phones and we even teach our grandparents that it will be easy for them to communicate if they just embrace technology. Then, why don’t we make the same changes in design communication?
                                                                                      guggenheim museum

Undisputable consideration of digital technology in architecture is necessary and unavoidable, given its widespread effects on architectural practice, teaching and research. It has always been a query whether to recommend students to use a precise medium in the studio for a specific problem based on their aptitude. The aftermath of the two mediums on the creative thinking process and on the result in the studio is prerequisite to be understood before we claim any of the two mediums as superior to other.
Firstly, we need to make ourselves open and practical. We should embrace the future and it is the technology. This is a heated debate between hand verses computer in design pedagogy. This controversy is among the educators of all allied design discipline weather the hand drafted sheet should still be continued when AutoCAD application is the backbone of the industry, or is it still necessary to produce pencil perspective when we have computers to give 3D view in no time? Well, we don’t carve on cave walls anymore.
Khushboo Agarwal
Khushboo is an Asst. Prof. in Jhulelal Institute of Architecture, Nagpur. All opinions expressed in the article are her personal views. 



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