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What is wrong with the Architecture faculty?


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

First and foremost, I love architecture. I am grateful to some of my professors for being instrumental in cultivating my love for the subject. Why just some professors, you ask? Well, this is what we are going to talk about today.


Michael Riscica, the man behind ‘Young Architect,’ remarked on the architecture profession recently. He believes it will change more in the next 15-20 years than it has in the previous 75 years. And that these transformations have already begun. As a result, breaking old stereotypes is more critical now than ever.


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

Architectural education and classes are primarily reliant on the professor's interests, which might be restrictive. The education is very hierarchical and operates on a medieval master-disciple model. Students' voices are not approved in this academic system until the head deems them valuable. As a result, there is a lack of an intellectual and philosophical relationship between student and teacher. What we have is a scaled replica of how the profession performs.

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

I like the Socratic approach to teaching. In this, both the student and the teacher are held accountable for how they debate issues.


With this, let me list the issues with the architecture faculty group today.

The first concern is that the core instructors at any Architecture Institute are non-practicing architects. Their sole conversation revolves around the fundamental mechanics of building functions. And they have strong opinions about beauty and taste. In Le Corbusier's comments about these teachers, he says,


"They are opposed to life; they signify memory, security, and lethargy. They have murdered architecture by acting in a vacuum. Architecture has eluded life rather than being a [mere] portrayal of it."


Most teachers have the same concept of learning. Its value is directly proportional to the amount of difficulty and suffering imposed on the students. They impart their teachings through lengthy, tedious exercises that have no practical, monetary, or moral value in the field. It is done by instilling a set of approaches and abilities that are either no longer in use or are rapidly becoming mechanised by technology.


Architecture faculty are open to four ideas. One, common and simplistic form of the past. Two, techniques of their own time of learning. Three, notions that have not been subjected to scientific scrutiny. Four, acceptance-based on investigation and pedigree rather than critical thinking.


Their delivery style is usually defensive, conservative, and parochial.

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

Discourses are allowed to exist only through the most conservative and regressive power structures. Here, teachers wield ultimate mastery over students. They rule over students as disempowered subjects in a one-sided relationship and flow of knowledge.


Everything generated from a position of power is labeled as ‘truthful’ and ‘right.’ That too in an absolute and imperialist manner. Most design firms have a more distributive character. But they follow the underlying notion of concentrating authority at the very top. This type of hierarchy is reflected in the architectural discourse as well.


Teachers are rooted in their ritualistic attachment to the forms, patterns, norms, and constraints of traditional education from their period. In this, the student is seen as an empty container to be filled by the teacher.


Teachers are admired for being deliberate and firm. At the same time, students are praised for being ever-accepting and submissive. This power dynamic can exist and be accepted only in a closed environment. As a result, the constituents of inquiry, discussion, and learning exist only as a static abstraction of mute forms created and satisfied by themselves.

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

Architectural teachings have been handed down through the years. They do not depict the dynamic social processes of a world that is ripe for revolution. Here, reality is compartmentalised. It is frozen in time and is static, basic, and predictable. It hinges on and remains tainted by the faculty's unchanging memory and narration. The discourse loses its value when it is divorced from reality, nuances, and logic of the universe.


As a result, any argument or critique by the student is declared ‘wrong' by artificially fixed attitudes deemed sacred to architecture. Thus, critical thought is suffocated. It leads to future generations being disconnected from the world in any transformational manner.


Finally, the status quo remains unchanged.



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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 painter. She has experience working on the packaging design and branding for NutriTown Organics.

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