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What is wrong with architecture studios?

Updated: Jul 4


Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad


Architecture is a humbling experience. It is not a career for everyone. Or, may I dare say, for anyone who believes they should be an architect. Sure, announcing that you are an architect might feel "cool" in some settings. But, if it is a requisite, you might not want to be an architect. These moments will far outnumber the happy times when you labour long and hard. Contractors, picky clients, and government policies are all eager to put you to the test. Do not listen to anyone who tells you differently.

Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad

Architecture is a way of life than a job or a career. It might seem like a fairytale. It is not. Most of the time, the system is against the Architect. Tribal communities are analogous to architecture studios. They follow their own set of customs and traditions. They function as closed systems across the globe.


We are trained to see the glass ‘half-empty.’ Something horrible will happen if it can. Architects are taught to think in this manner from the launch. And almost all architects are anxious beings. Do you know why? Our training begins on the first day of school. I remember my first day. I had two encounters like every other student. In the first, my professor opened his talk by saying, "There's always more you can do. Try new things; find new ways to make things better. Your job will never be over. Your tasks will never finish.” And the second was with my senior who said, “Showing up is 75% of the battle.” Warp-speed to today, not much has changed, has it?


Architecture preserves its distinctive appearance. It prohibits any outside-studio forms. No out-of-studio processes of design thinking and practice are encouraged. Studios are traditional places. They are fixed in certain ways, with little concern for scientific thinking. The focus of the said studio is on building attitudes and values. It plays out in the profession's most remote corners. External factors and their effects are ignored. Internal processes are allowed to grow in isolation.

Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad

The foremost example of this is a Design Jury. They are classic illustrations of architecture studios and herd culture. They are common in all architecture schools across the world. In the context of a design jury, criticism is anticipated. And it is naturally expected to be negative and distressing. Disempowered students are obliged to display their work and defend their efforts. And this is just day one. The teachers care about nothing but to wipe the floor with your work.


With no space for healthy discussions, and deadlines after deadlines, what are you trying to learn? What is the aim of architectural studios? The primary goal of the critique is to put students under great strain. This features three of the most heinous things. One, the deadline. Two, a redundant checklist of work submissions. And lastly, the panelists' self-validated opinions. It is more about exhaustion, hard work, fear, power, and ego than anything. It is not a matter of knowledge. Most students would agree here, I'm sure. The fact that it is a simulation is its sole defence.

Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad

What is the point of a simulation? Well, the goal is to teach students how to respond fast. To be quick and careful in real-life situations.


It, on the other hand, produces the exact opposite impact.


Many youngsters experience trauma in the first few weeks. Majority of students are shaken by their experiences. So many architects change careers during the first five years. The design jury, however, continues to use its glossary and language. It is detached from the rest of the world. Is this out of toughness or is it ignorance?

This issue came to light when readers expressed concern during the #dezeenchat on Twitter and Instagram in 2019. Students suffer from chronic exhaustion because of the stress placed. Many revealed mental health difficulties, even suicidal thoughts. The education ethos of "sleep is for the weak" still remains dominant.


The curriculum emphasises projecting rather than listening. It demonstrates the arrogance of knowledge rather than learning. Integrating new information is a challenge for students as it is for the limited few academicians. In 2017, Architectural Science Review published a study on this subject. As per the study, most people like rooms with curved edges and rounded contours. What do you guess was the budding architects' unanimous preference? Yes, rooms with sharp corners. Shocking? Not at all.

Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are serene, you are living in today,” ancient philosophers have observed.


Architects are not only trained but also expected to do all three. They must learn from the past to design the present and change the future. That is what this community is being trained for. This is what the majority is doing for peanuts as monetary compensation. And almost all architects are depressed and anxious (while in search of peace).


Architects are thinkers. They are doers tasked with reshaping the settings they live in. It is a philosophy, an act following a set of ideals. These motivate them to make a difference in the world. This obligation is not imposed on any other profession!


The practice's identity has changed throughout time. In the modern world, architects have evolved in theory. But what about the education that is imparted in our studios? Has it changed? Has it evolved? These are difficult questions to answer.


Anthropology is the study of marginalised and extinct groups. Anthropologists have looked at our field on several occasions. They have conducted several studies on architects and the architectural profession. Does it not serve as a harbinger of our discipline's imminent demise? Probably, if we continue to walk on the same path.


Shama Patwardhan, Palak Gupta, Anchal Srivastava, Architects, Architecting, Architecture, Architectural, Design, Agency, Profession, Pedagogy, Practice, Education, Professional, Discourse, Contingency, Externality, Educational, School, College, University, Firm, Company, Client, Customer, Zeyka, Zeyka India, Architecture, Interior Design, Home Renovation, Construction, Tech, Design, Project Management Consulting, Architect, Architects, Interior, Interiors, Interior Designer, Interior Designers, Modular Wardrobe, Modular Bathroom, Modular Kitchen, Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom, Kid's Room, Pooja Room, Garden Design, Landscape Design, False Ceiling, Balcony, New Delhi, Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad


About the Writer

Anchal Srivastava is an architect, urban planner, writer, researcher and scholar. She is a certified GIS specialist from IIRS, ISRO, Dehradun. She is a graduate of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi and Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Technical University (APJAKTU), Uttar Pradesh. She has experience working at the Town and Country Planning Organisation Delhi, Jabalpur Smart City Limited, Suresh Goel & Associates (SGA), APS Green Architects & Associates, and as the head architect at SSAP and Shantiniketan Buildtech Pvt. Ltd.


About the Editor

Shama Patwardhan is an architect and writer from Mumbai. She is a graduate of the Rachana Sansad's Academy of Architecture (AoA), Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Heritage Conservation Society, India. She has experience working with Rethinking The Future (RTF), Abhikalpan Architects and Planners, and Manasaram Architects.


About the Illustrator

Palak Gupta is an undergraduate architecture student at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal. She is also a graphic designer, illustrator and a painter. She has experience working on the packaging design and branding for NutriTown Organics.



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