Being an Architect

Reflections on the profession, design, art, books and life in general
JUN

05

2012

Make Sure it's Your Train

Accept it. Student architects are always confused about choosing the right career path. It gets all the more complicated with myriad options (and specializations) available today. Though the scene has changed a lot, I think the speech by Charles Correa more than a decade ago (Convocation Address at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, 1996) still is very relevant. I want to share his thoughts as a continuation of my post 'architecture as a profession'. His observations are sharp, as usual, and I am sure that any architect at any stage of his career will get useful (if not motivating) insights from the speech. Extracts from his talk are given below.

Make Sure it's Your Train

much we grow depends on the issues we have the good fortune to address. This brings to mind a story told to me by Arvind Talati, a young Indian architect who followed Doshi at Corbusier's office in Paris. After working for two years or so, when Talati decided to return to lndia, Corbusier (who was really a taciturn old man of over 70 by then) came to his desk and said, "l hear you are leaving – where are you going?" Talati replied, "To Mumbai." "What will you do there?" "Well, I don't know, but I'm sure I'll find a job." Corbusier looked at him and said, "Be careful, eh? Whenever you get to the station, there's always a train leaving. Don't jump on just because it's leaving. Make sure it's your train."

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MAY

30

2012

Concept: a Myth?

Concept: a Myth

Saturday afternoon. Through the large window of my studio, I could see that it had started drizzling. The weather could not have an impact on me as I sat there spellbound, staring at a junior architect’s academic work portfolio. I just witnessed a project with ‘seemingly harmless’ brief got itself pushed into the shape of a ‘turtle(!)’ (you read it right).

I couldn’t help myself from asking the architect the motivation behind the ‘work’ as it defied all my logic and little experience accumulated over years about the specific building type. Was he limited by the area program, a difficult or peculiar site, or confronted by any structural requirement, or any other thinkable factors which could have forced him to attempt this bizarre unconventional solution? Apparently none of the above!

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MAY

29

2012

Architecture as a profession

My friend’s son wanted to meet me. It was a bit of surprise to know that he needed counseling from me in choosing his career. To be more specific, he got caught in the latest fad of becoming an Architect (thanks to recent media for glamorizing the trade).

I remember reading my earlier boss’ article describing a similar situation in which he tried (in vein) to explain to a student how the career of an architect is more than making pots of money, but about knowing ‘gaps’. Explaining in length about gap was primarily meant to indicate the importance of detailing, difference in schedules and budget etc in the profession.( Importance of detailing in itself demands more than a few posts.) It was not at all surprising that the starry eyed student opted for a much safer choice.

So, is it all about mundane details or schedule? Can’t he get paid handsomely for ‘dreaming creatively’ also?

"THE COLLECTIVE SOCIAL AESTHETICS IS YET TO GET EVOLVED INTO A REFINED TASTE TO APPRECIATE A GOOD DESIGN FROM A BAD ONE"

Architecture as a profession

Well, to put it straight, its a profession in which its very hard to get paid(and, harder still, for just 'dreaming creatively’!). Design is still not that valued in this part of the world. The collective social aesthetics is yet to get evolved into a refined taste to appreciate a good design from a bad one(and to make it as a priority in decision making). Unless a product has a ‘perceivable value’, it cant be sold. I still believe in a day when people start appreciates real value of design(and ready to pay for it). I am deeply encouraged by recent scenes in the product design world where ‘good designs’ universally becoming the real differentiator (think apple!). 

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MAY

27

2012

Are we learning right from past?

Back to bit of a regional talk. Always tried to explore (and respect) the wisdom accumulated over years (in all fields and architecture, in particular) an thus thought of sharing a few thoughts on vernacular residential architecture in Kerala.

Old Building Architecture from Kerala

One of the most talked-about and debated issue in the construction industry today is Vastu. Vastu (Thachu-shastram, its regional application) and its principles along with the danger of its over-commercialization may be discussed later(deserves separate post(s)!). What one ignores in the noise is a highly evolved vernacular construction method in Kerala, perfected over years. The attempt is to find out the reasons and conditions which might have resulted in this evolution which might in turn help to adapt these principles in present day scenario.

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