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  • Writer's pictureBenny Kuriakose

Architectural Education in India

The practical exposure in the five-year architectural education course in India is much less. Two decades ago, there was no internship or even a subject for preparing measured drawings of a traditional building. I am not saying that the qualification is not important, but the way architecture is being taught in India has many drawbacks. With so many architecture schools and no proper training, the quality of the candidates has become lower over the years. At the same time, a lot of questions can be raised about whether this is the right thing to do. So, this blog surveys questions surrounding architecture education in India and offers some suggestions on improving it.

Problems in Indian Architecture Schools

The young architects who come to work with me do not realize that architecture, urban planning, sustainability and heritage are all related to the people and they never try to understand how one field is related to the other. I should say that they are like frogs in a well and why the public hates the so-called “modern architecture” that can really solve many problems faced by society.

  • Firstly, there is no proper understanding of what is good architecture, without knowing this, how can you design good architecture.

  • Secondly, they do not have good role models. Unfortunately, their role models are the ones who are commercially successful and famous.

  • Thirdly, they never have exposure to any “build" exercise, which according to me should be incorporated in every semester. They never learn how to “engineer the design”.

  • Fourthly, they do not read any good books or try to understand the works of great architects and the concepts behind them. They just follow the photos in the glossy books and try to emulate them.

  • Fifthly, their exposure to other related fields such as humanities, ecology and even engineering is very little. Last but not the least, the attitude of many is wrong. They think that they know everything and all that they need is to execute projects.

Problems in architecture
A Comic Depicting the Problems in Architecture

Promoting Fieldwork in Architecture Schools

Although things have improved over the last few years, I think it is a must for architecture students to take part in the actual construction of a building. When I worked with Laurie Baker, there were many days when I had done manual labour at the site. My son Kevin Kuriakose and twelve of his classmates from Oslo School of Architecture and Design designed and constructed two classrooms in Kenya as part of their architectural education course. The school did give some money, while the rest was raised by the students.

Eco Moyo education centre
A Visualization of the Classroom at the Eco Moyo Primary School in Kenya
Eco Moyo Primary School
Eco Moyo Primary School
Eco Moyo Primary School
Pictures of the Classrooms Form the Eco Moyo Primary School

Learning From Foreign Architecture Firms

Further, the architecture firms in India might not be always innovative, sometimes they are not aware of the local context and situation. Yesterday I was having a brief discussion with Sekar James, the famous landscape architect, who has worked with many foreign architectural firms. I asked him why do Indian people go after foreign firms. Are they really superior in terms of quality of work? His answers were;

  • The foreign architecture firms follow the systems.

  • The foreign architects and their attitude to work are very different, they do not have a casual attitude. They follow deadlines.

  • There are very few errors in the drawings of foreign architecture firms.

So, they work five days a week. Even though we work seven days a week, the output seems to be comparatively less. Why is this so?

In the End,

In my office, I find that people have to “unlearn” many things. The sad part is that we think we are on the right track as far as the quality of education is concerned. Chinese and Latin American architects have marched forward quite a bit to the extent of winning even Pritzker prizes. When are we going to reach that stage? Architecture students are the future architects who are going to mould society. The overall Indian education system has to be upgraded and substantial changes need to be brought in to make students more efficient and effective in the practical world. Equal importance must be given to the theory as well as the practical sides of architecture. Finally, students should know how to design, visualize, and also how bring it to life.


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