(WARNING: In case you are afraid to get your nails chipped, or hate the pungent smell of fresh paint, your eyes burn with the smell of freshly polished wood or need 8 hours of sleep every night, don’t choose architecture. If however, the sound of metal getting cut, the sparks of welding torches, the sound of cranes, and hammering of nails is music to your ears, welcome to the magical world of Architecture and Design.)
I truly believe that Architecture is not a choice, it’s a calling. Most often than not, students chose Architecture for all the wrong reasons. They get lured into the profession because of misconceptions and they are stuck doing what they aren’t cut out to do or feel cheated.
Let’s break some misconceptions about Architecture.
1. “Kitni Achi drawing karte ho beta!” (“You are really good at sketching!”)
A lot of good artists are lost to India because relatives and parents feel that artists are satchel carrying, khadi wearing people with no income. Kids who are good at sketching and painting are thus forced into the next best thing – Architecture. Although a good hand at sketching, sense of forms and proportions do come in handy in the field of design, it’s not everything. Also, drawing is not equal or even close to drafting and envisioning buildings and structures. A lot of technical knowhow, structural and material knowledge is needed to fare well in this career path.
2. “I did not qualify for Engineering, so….”
Tons of disheartened students, on not being able to get into a good engineering college, “settle” for Architecture or Interior Design. Little do they realize that they are in for a rude shock. Not only is Architecture much more difficult, it also requires loads of dedication and hard work. Instead of rote learning, architecture calls for intuitive thinking, laborious nights perfecting your work and the ability to relate theoretical knowledge to practical problems.
3. Huge scope and chances of minting money
People have a wrong notion that architects make filthy money. Many architects don’t start seeing money until they become somewhat experienced or accomplished. Obviously we are not broke or poor, it’s just a different lifestyle. People in other professions work a lot less, with lesser education and still make more money. It’s not entirely rare for clients to not pay you, or for interns to get exploited or for working professionals to be paid peanuts for long hours of work. However, if you are one to pursue your passions and become the best at what you do, no one can stop you from becoming a huge success (even monetarily)
If you have a high running fever, you are immediately taken to a doctor. If you want to save taxes, you have no choice but to consult a CA. If you land yourself into legal trouble you are forced to hire a lawyer. However, no such rule applies in the case of Architects. We have to compete, not only with fellow Architects, but also contractors, builders, carpenters, artisans, furniture dealers, neighbors and clients themselves. Everyone thinks that they can build their own houses. All they require is a little help and most of the people hire architects only as a formality. However, it is up to you as a professional to make them understand that you do know loads of things that they don’t and thus make yourself indispensable.
If you are a person who is low on patience, high on self worth (read ego) and cannot take criticism positively, DO NOT TAKE ARCHITECTURE. Don’t say, I didn’t warn you. Right from day 1, your designs, thoughts and creative ideas are going to be scrutinized, criticized or changed. Everyone, right from your peers, teachers, parents, clients, and colleagues will have a say about your idea. At times you will need to rework your entire concept for something much worse just because your client’s wife shows you a picture on the internet. At such times, take a deep breath and learn to disassociate yourself from the work.
Remember, design is a matter of personal choice and everyone is entitled to have their own.
6. More an all – rounder, less an architect
We spent 5 years in college, dreaming that we will create masterpieces in skylines on our first day out. The harsh reality is most architects never get to design. Depending upon your level of experience, you are required to do a lot more stuff other than designing like site co-ordination, getting clients, consultant co-ordination and checking and executing other people’s design. In fact, when you start your own practice, you become your own marketing head, accountant, HR, and hardly have time to design. Another bitter truth is that people, who are half as talented as you, will walk away with a project only because they can sell their design better.
Remember that creative people make better designers, but hustlers make better Architects (and earn much more.)
7. Dealing with people
As an Architect, your communication skills should be your best traits. After all, you are not just convincing a billionaire to invest in your design but also explaining a mason that it is possible to build it. Consultants, juniors, labors, clients, builders, corporation committees, there are a lot of people to be managed and dealt with during the making of a single simple structure.
Being an Architect myself, I can tell you that there is no job as fulfilling or as fun as being a designer. There is no greater joy than seeing what you dream come alive in front of your eyes. So what exactly are the traits required to choose architecture and what questions do you need to ask yourself before joining? Let’s take a look.
1. The need to make a mark!
No person touches the lives of so many people so closely other than an Architect. Imagine you are designing a school. Think about how many students over how many years are going to be affected by the beautiful central courtyard you have envisioned. An architect may die, but his work goes on for years to come and is seen, experienced and appreciated by millions of people.
2. Insight of spaces and environments
Do you go to a restaurant and admire the ambience more than the food? Do you notice facades on the streets more than the billboards and vehicles? Do you have a keen observation for spaces and environments? If the answer is yes, you are indeed one of us! Choose Architecture!
3. The need to design and organise
Everything in this world is an output of design. If you constantly push yourself to create and design everything around you, if you pay great attention to detail, if you are particular about organizing everything according to your liking, even if it’s just arranging your study table or family album, you can consider a career in design.
4. More creative, less robotic
Architecture is one of the few professions which gives you the freedom to do something new at work every single day rather than a monotonous or repetitive cubicle job. Creativity and out of the box thinking is a part of your job description. You get to make models, artsy products, select fabrics/materials, instead of rote learning and robotic tasks. It’s a constantly evolving lifestyle and there is no space (nor time) for boredom.
5. Jack of all trades
As I mentioned before, an architect has to be an all rounder. It’s not essential to be the best at everything, but you do need to know a little about everything. Designers are thus one of the most interesting bunches of people as they are acquainted with art, imagination, books, movies, people, travelling, history, current events and are involved in social scenes. They develop magnetic personalities and are excellent conversationalists.
6. Fame and fortune
Even though designers (and basically all creative people) go through their fair share of struggle initially, once they carve a niche for themselves in the market and region, there is no end to the fame and fortune they earn. Good networking, the ability to market your idea, delivering all that you have promised and hard honest work can ensure success in architecture.
If you think you have what it takes to choose architecture, you can pursue it through a 5 year degree course. Basic eligibility is Science in standard 12, and you may then appear for NATA (National Aptitude Test for Architecture) or AIEEE and opt for architecture aptitude.
*Illustrations : Credit – Leewardists