DILEMMA OF AN ARCHITECT!

Architectural education equips a student to get into the real world as an Architect. It culminates with a thesis project where a student standing at the threshold of the professional world showcases their learning they garnered in their journey of becoming an architect from a student. It becomes a project they associate themselves with; it carries a trait of their personality and it is a utopian world they live in. This ideal project paves the way for their entry to the profession. However, this dream project remains far from real life practice where it is rich with idea but the practical execution details don’t amalgamate into it.

As young professionals, students join architecture firm to practice what they learned in architecture schools. As an entrant, they are often given tasks in the office like working on execution/construction drawings, preparing coordination drawings, writing specifications or calculating quantities etc. of which they have very limited experience from college and they face real life problems for the very first time in real life.

In college, students romanticize Starchitects and aim to become impeccable creators, creators who design, craft and showcase their creations. Conceptual design is a skill in which the architects are trained at their best and they can create marvels but the process of creating this marvel from inception to execution is a multifaceted web of millions of processes and sub-processes, which one doesn’t actually learn or experience during college. Hence, the dream of working as a Practitioner and Architect doesn’t materialize easily wherein young architects gradually start learning various aspects they need to know about the profession and practice.

In order to establish an office, few of the different challenges that an architect faces are:

  • Procurement of Software
  • Finding Client and projects
  • Fixing the fee for a project
  • Project details:
    • Statutory Approvals drawings and procedures
    • Structural design
    • Integration of Services design – plumbing, electricity, HVAC, ELV, sewerage etc and coordinated drawings
    • Demarcation – coordinate drawings
    • Calculating quantities and preparing BOQs and project estimates
    • Preparing execution drawings and listing detailed specifications
    • Overseeing construction – quality control and monitoring
  • Establishing office

These are few of the challenges which bombard on graduates as they aim for establishing a practice, all on their own. Mostly, one tries to gain an experience by working in a firm which could equip thyself to establish their own firm, however, there is no fix formula to calculate this period of familiarity and young architects are often confused, as to when and how to start their practice. However, as one starts working in a firm and begins the process of learning, slowly they get into the firm, a few pursue post-graduation and then with the increased age, salary and experience, it becomes difficult to leave office and set up a new practice from scratch. A few believe that these skills can only be acquired while working and practicing them in others’ offices while others think that they could only be truly acquired if one works on them responsibly, and this responsibility would be felt on their own projects only.

As per my personal experience it has to be a mix of the two, where one should be working on a real-time project (preferably large scale) where complete responsibilities of the project should be experienced and involvement should be from conception to execution and then in parallel one should take a project where one can implement the learnings from project. This will help young architects to effectively acquire and perfect their skills which will help them become good practitioners. These important factors support a practice, but the spine of a good practice and the key for a successful architect is the Concept and good designing skills which will work only if supported with the factors stated above. Hence in my opinion, prior to starting a practice one should have complete knowledge of execution of minimum of one project and it should not be delayed as otherwise the passion and appetite for establishing self-practice reduces and further might get lost.

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