Creating structures that suit the requirements of a 21st century world is a challenge. Gauri Rane finds out how architecture as a stream of study has changed over the years.
Buildings—from palaces and forts to the modern town halls, townships, convention centres and high rises— require an artistic hand and a clever mind working on them. Whether in London, Paris, Rome, Cairo or even Mumbai, we get to see how the landscape has changed over the years. Thanks to the ever increasing population and the necessity to make most of the limited space available, architects and engineers have devised new ways of building and accommodating the needs of the ever changing populace.
Adaptation is the name of the game, say leading architects. Trilochan Chhaya, dean, Balwant Sheth School of Architecture, says the architecture curriculum has changed to be sync with the changing times. It is now more creative and holistic. “A major reason for this shift is that the profession is changing from mere building to design,” says Chhaya adding that unlike before, schools now-a-days are governed by how the markets are moving. “The course modules, specialisations etc are now more market friendly.”
Mandar Parab, head of department, Bachelor of Architecture, LS Raheja School of Architecture points to another reason for the change. “The stream has opened its doors to students of commerce and arts and this has increased competition resulting in an increase in the number of colleges,” he informs. The fact that the number of colleges offering architecture has increased from three in 1991 to over 20 or more today is good enough reason to say that this field is a popular career choice for undergraduate qualification.
The growing popularity of the stream is an encouraging development. Earlier, architecture was perceived to be a stream for students who were good in Math. However, this has changed. According to Chayya even those students who are weak in Math can do well with the help of. Now, an architecture undergrad class has students who are more creative. However, all students aspiring to take up the stream have to clear the National Aptitute Test in Architecture (NATA) administered by the Council for Architecture (COA). The IITs that offer courses in Architecture and Regional Planning (IIT Roorkee and IIT Kharagpur) admit students through the JEE alone. “We do not consider NATA scores,” says SY Kulkarni, former head of department, Dept of Architecture and Planning, IIT Roorkee.
So what next after a B Arch degree? Kulkarni says that India is at par with its western counterparts at the B Arch level as it offers an almost similar course. “One cannot be as confident however, when it comes to post graduate qualification,” he says. Academicians agree in unison that there is scope for improving the course at the M Arch level. “Indian colleges need to offer better specialisations, electives and so on; more importantly the programmes need to be more practical based,” opines Parab. He says that the quality of teachers is not a matter of worry as the Quality Improvement Programmes conducted by the COA are quite good.
About pay package and growth in the sector, Chayya explains that aspirants in this field have to be patient. “This is a creative field that takes its time to give you returns, unlike management qualification where you can expect high salaries as soon as you graduate.” He informs that quite often, students after completing two to five years of service with a firm starts his/ her own practice. Parab adds, “There are enough jobs in metros, however opportunities in tier two towns are low. He advises students to not get carried away. “These will be the tough five years of your academic life. There is a lot of hard work with weekly submissions and practicals. Students need to be ready for the rigors before they dream of a lucrative career path.”