Architectural Education

Architecture is an exhaustive profession whose realms are diverse and interests varied. The main ingredients that are extremely important in the make of a good architect are in order of importance, Creativity, Analytical skill, acute Observational ability, excellent Communication skills,  Math Ingenuity, Spatial Quotient, Aesthetic taste,  Determination and unending Optimism. Its because it takes all this and more to shape the buildings; as Mr Churchill very famously remarked, that will then shape us. Architectural education has on its shoulders a rather grave responsibilty as all the specified ingredients are to be finely blended in exact amounts. The education drafted out is therefore long and extensive. In the quantum of years it would take for one to be licensed could easily vary from 6 to 10 years depending on which country you study in.

On average the five years of architecture school would take a lot of grit and steely resolve to finish. It definitely is not rocket science but the fact that it involves arts, sciences, topped with plenty of opinions and the underlying notion that nothing is wrong or right make it a little more complicated that rocket science. Now if you have registered as an architect and completed the first leg of your education then congratulations. As an architect you will end up doing a lot of work directly or indirectly concerning buildings and will realise as projects unfold that architecture is a highly rewarding profession.

Many architects continue professionally unhindered with a Bachelors degree in Architecture. A professional license is technically all you need to practise. Once in possession, you are good to go. Its a start.

But knowledge like they say is a bottomless well. If you want to specialize then the options are plenty. After reaching the crossroads yet again, I mulled over the possibilities. Listed below are ten specializations to choose after a degree in architecture***:

1. Masters in Architecture – Choose to spend a couple of more years in college to sharpen the design quotient. Technically in most colleges it would mean another round of  electives, a dissertation and thesis much like the final year of the degree cours in architecture. It would help to further research possibilties and additional licenses if applicable.

2. Masters in Landscape Architecture – The blooming world of architecture. Technically it adds on an entirely new layer much different from the mainstream architecture course. From Botany to Site Planning the range is different as the canvas and the tools change. To be a landscape architect, this specialisation would be a must. Licensing bodies in landscape architecture are gaining momentum just as the field is growing and hence a degree to practise will be essential.

3. Masters in Sustainable Design – Complementing the previously acquired know-how of architectural design this specialization is one of the latest in the architecture market. The construction industry is expensive and expansive. The basic act of building has always been anti-nature. The act of building damages the ecology but building sensibly and sensitively making use of cutting-edge design and innovation may well be the answer to our planet’s survival.

4. Masters in Product Design – Designing free of bye-laws/codes and restrictive schedules and cost is what lures some architects into product design. The mass-productive aspect of product design may be said to be somewhat a bonus. Norman Foster and Frank Llyod Wright have always maintained that products need to be designed as per the buildings they will inhabit. Nevertheless this field is as ancient and as important as architecture itself.

5. Masters in Urban Design – Designing and planning buildings may be one challenge but to plan a city that houses a multitude of people and buildings is a much bigger challenge. With an interest in larger spans of things and administrating the design of a city is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Urban Designers could well feel like they are playing God.

6. Masters in Architectural Conservation – Monuments are declared heritage buildings and decreed to be conserved for the future. With a degree as such, one aims to work on culturally significant buildings, work with people from varied backgrounds and help on preserving monuments of the past. From presentations to actual work on the monument, the field of conservation calls for an immense passion for old structures.

7. Masters in Real Estate – To foray into the big bad world of real estate a degree in MBA may seem more useful. Nevertheless the masters in Real Estate will help to understand the largely unorganised sector in construction. Finance will be an important subject and analysing the feasability of projects and megaprojects will be an important aspect in this field.

8. Masters in Urban Planning – A field of work now finally getting its due is the Masters in Urban Planning. Statistics is the main subject here. A thorough understanding of development densities, population and planning parameters will help in large-scale planning projects. Working with the government or as a consultant will be sought.

9. Masters in Project Management – The goldmine in the field of architecture, Project Management has just about risen from the horizon. The field is high-paying and extremely fierce. Working on project management one will be expected to see a project from its concept to completion stages with targets and deadlines set in accordance. Like an orchestra manager one will be expected to liase with contractors, clients and consultants to get the project to meet the schedules.

10. Masters in Architectural Journalism – Yet undiscovered but waiting in queue is the Masters in Architectural Journalism.  A select number of colleges in the United Kingdom have embarked on the professing of this degree. MIT has started on an interdisiplinary course between architecture and media. With a demand from readers for writers on architecture its a course for the future.

***The list however is not exhaustive.

Architectural education varies in different countries and sometimes continents. Some subjects may be well chosen in anticipation of places where they will be put to practice. Owing to different climates, cultures and geographies for the field of Architecture, “the world will never be flat”.


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