Authored By : Dr Ravindra Deshmukh
With over 450 schools of architecture producing numerous prospective architects, many of them with dismal ethical values and seriousness of acquiring industry skills that are a vital demand in the profession, job opportunities are drying up fast for such aspirants. Many work on reduced pay package, on lesser posts or with lower commissions. Some smart ones change tracks by their inherent interests or by undergoing additional training of keeping both halves of the brain sharp and active making them suitable for crossing over the fence.
Completing a degree in architecture can be a long and arduous process, but also wonderfully rewarding in terms of creativity and satisfaction. Despite this, many fresh graduate architects find themselves unsure about where to begin, or come to the conclusion that they actually don’t want to be architects at all. They may unwillingly settle down in the core field of architecture or in allied fields in building industry. “Maybe you also dream about switching to a career that’s drastically different from your current job”, suggests Kabir Sehgal, who served as a vice president at J.P. Morgan, “to plug away in the current job, unfulfilled and slowly burning out”. Some may feel they are in a wrong channel of building design and thus try to crossover to take up a different creative pursuit.
Architect is blessed with wonderful brain that is conditioned to work with equal finesse in analytical as well as creative domains. B.Arch. qualification comes with such trained mind set. This allows architects to have myriad opportunities in job market, at times, crossing over to compete with others in different disciplines while others do not normally have a chance to compete in architecture domain, which remains almost exclusively as a creative ground for architects. This opens up unlimited potential for an architect to earn and enter into any of the hundreds of vocations while basically being an architect. “Architects can change jobs relatively easily because skills such as creative problem solving, iterative thinking, information synthesizing, and project management translate into other professions”, says Alice Liao an independent writer and former editor of Architectural Lighting and Kitchen & Bath Business. The primary field of an architect revolves around building industry. There are many opportunities as the field of building industry is huge and new technologies make its boundaries wider. So, budding architects need not to think that their job will demand extensive drawing skills and thus limit them in the four walls of a design studio. Architecture is driven by passion and architects are trained to pursue their passion in multitude of ways. This very fact allows him/her to settle either in mainstream or crossover into peripheral areas, or get into yet any other seemingly unconnected domain where creativity, analytics and passion are buzzwords.
OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY
Construction and development are synonymous to each other. When a country is geared up for massive development the fallout of this is invariably the boom in construction activity. India is on faster developmental mode since the last decade and continues to have growth graph going upward. So, architects have great potential in various sectors related to the field of construction. Some of them are as follows:
- Architect as Architect: All your knowledge and skills developed during five year period of B. Arch. should be fully used to get a job in an architectural firm. Your main responsibility is to produce schematic sketches, presentation drawings, drawings for execution and any need based details. With a little more experience they can be involved in higher skills of research, design development and site inspection. There are a number of architectural firms in India. Some foreign firms have opened their offices in India. They always look for bright young and market ready architects to run consultancies. Also, many other organizations or public sector undertakings have an architecture department, a wing, a cell or a section. It is considered as in-house architecture team. One can get an opportunity to work there. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) has construction wing or Planning Corps at their different plant locations. They have architects working with them. Similarly, National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) at Hyderabad had a wing having architects. A couple of decades earlier the officer on special duty at the Corporation reporting to the director was an architect. Their headquarter building was designed by an in-house team. National Industrial Development Corporation (NIDC) too has an architectural wing. Major construction companies like Hindustan Construction Corporation Ltd (HCCL), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), and organizations in private sector such as Gherzi Consulting Engineers Pvt. Ltd. offer opportunities for architects and have their own team-setup for architectural works. Private international organizations like Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM), Engineering Construction Corporation (ECC), Larson and Toubro (L&T) and Development Consultants Private Limited (DCPL) have teams of architects with them. Apart from this, with experience, one can start own consultancy practice and grow in life.
- Architect as Interior/Spatial Designer: Architecture and interior design are contiguous vocations. Many architects run parallel practice of designing buildings and designing interiors. However, interior designing is also done by qualified diploma holder in interior design or a degree holder in the field. Some architects specialize by taking advanced training in interior design. Team building is important in this vocation. Those who can manage practicable design and its execution can work in this profession with little or no qualification.
Some contractors or some intelligent carpenters do take up interior design projects of house or shop renovations. Interestingly, as the field is not appropriately regulated, high profile women possibly without relevant qualification do practice as interior design specialists. Training of architect in mix streams, naturally qualifies him/her as the one who can design interior spaces. However there are some choicest architect-interior designers who have contributed immensely to this field.
- Architect as Landscape Designer: By virtue of architecture training in which designing the space around a building is part of architectural consideration. Landscape design being one of the mandatory subjects of study, an architect can successfully run landscape design practice. However, it must be kept in mind that only architects are not the landscape designers in practice, there are horticulturists and other professionals too who by their work of dealing with plant material and creative ideas can be successful in this field, including some building contractors as well.
Akshay Kaul did his architecture at Manipal Institute of Technology and received his Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse, USA. With over 20 years of experience Akshay today is a well-known architect and landscape designer especially in North India. There are luminaries in this important field like architect Ram Sharma who headed landscape program at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi, architect Ravindra Bhan who designed Shakti Sthal –a monument for the late prime minister Indira Gandhi and architect Kishor Pradhan from Mumbai who worked closely with architect Charles Correa on landscape design projects.
- Architect as Conservation Expert: As an architect one can also enter into the field of historic building conservation. Conservation is a vast domain encompassing Natural Heritage – preservation of rivers and mountains, forests, and flora and fauna; Built Heritage – related to old buildings and archaeological finds, its restoration and research and Cultural Heritage – keeping alive and document the cultural traits like music, art, language and personalities related to it. Kiran Kalamdani is an architect and a conservation expert in Pimpri-Chinchwad area near Pune. Trained at BKPS College of Architecture Pune and further studied at Conservation Department of the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, he is an acclaimed professional in the field. Our old heritage structures are beautiful glimpse of the past that reflect understanding of culture prevailing then. However, restoration work is being done by unqualified persons or at times simply by the contractor who builds routine steel and concrete buildings. It often creates a “heritage massacre”, laments Ariana.
- Architect as Teacher/Researcher: During 1960s and 70s when architectural education was receiving thrust a number of schools were in the process of getting established; there was also an unprecedented need for architects in India and in the Middle East countries. Therefore young, energetic architects turned their back toward teaching as they had demand in Middle East and elsewhere with lucrative package. So, teaching was never their first preference. As the demand in practice declined and pay checks were not attractive enough, young architects would wish to turn toward teaching compelled by better start up package in teaching industry. But they had no will to stay for long and always looked out for design project consultancy to be taken up on their own or get a job as a designer in a firm. With the passage of time some not-so-lucky ones get stuck up in teaching profession and tend to mess up their career as well as that of the students of the college or school where they serve. Teaching is divine and a great profession indeed! A teacher par excellence is revered in India. So, passionate architects can certainly join teaching and train future generations to become good architects, provided they have planned their career as architect-teacher and work toward satisfying certain qualities of making of a good teacher.
Gone those days when architect would primarily be interested in practice of designing buildings. Now increasingly a section of architects are interested in research. Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, and architects are researching to know which new tools are available to enhance productive capacity of an individual or a firm. Architects in teaching would like to acquire higher qualification by joining doctoral programs, contributing toward adding new knowledge.
- Architect as Town Planner: it is a domain in which various professionals work. There are architect- planner, civil engineer-planner, geographer-planner, etc. You need to pursue a postgraduate course in town planning and also become member of the Institute of Town Planners India (ITPI). The field is important and ever-growing.
During 1970s the government set up town planning offices at all district towns leading to shortfall of such professionals. Now that the government wants to push hard the smart-city initiative, planners are back in demand. Moreover, as new political States or provinces get created, capital-region projects are a priority as in the case of new capital city of Chhatisgarh near New Raipur or Amaravati, the new capital city for Andhra Pradesh.
- Architect as Structural Expert: In architecture building structures is taught parallel to the mainstream subject of design studio for at least three years for the architect to get knowledge about analysing building skeleton, its behaviour under certain conditions of load and how to make it stable or withstand forces for a long time during the life span of the building. Very few architects specialize themselves further with an advanced knowledge in structural/architectural engineering. If an architect opts for such a domain, it will certainly be a lethal combination to practice vigorously. Fazlur Rahaman Khan is an architect-engineer from Bangladesh. Trained as a civil engineer from BE College Shibpur, Kolkata and studied further at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, he designed Sears Towers, John Hancock Centre at Chicago and was a recipient of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Brian Vesely an architect-structural engineer studied at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and served in U.S. Army. Architect Sheodan Mal from Nagpur was trained as a civil engineer but was architect par excellence with projects like Santra Market in Nagpur. Architect Arthur Coutino graduated in architecture from BKPS College of Architecture Pune and today he is a structural expert and teaches structural engineering subjects as a visiting professor in various architecture schools in Pune.
- Architect as Project Manager: It is a skilful job. Start to finish of a building project within deadlines is the primary objective of a project manager. S/he has to effectively manage 4-Ms: men, materials, machine and money so that budgetary provision, human resource and timeline are effectively met. Project manager on the one hand deals with architect and specialist consultants and on the other, site personnel like site engineer, supervisor and construction workers. There are specialized programmes in construction and project management. With a B. Arch. Degree one can pursue such courses and specialise in being ‘man on site’!
Slower pace of development and lesser opportunities create pressure on fresh entrants in architecture vocation. This prompts them to think out of the box and becomes an impetus to enter new domains of their liking. “These days, a number of architecture graduates also turn towards other design or software related disciplines,” informs Shubhrajit Das, head of the department of architecture, Jadavpur University, Kolkata. Young architects upgrade themselves in other skills and opt to crossover to newer fields in which they are more comfortable and are sure of succeeding. Some such fields are:
- Architect as Writer/Journalist: Many architecture programmes have an elective in journalism. If an architect has a flair for writing, then s/he can become professional writer. One can start writing articles in architecture magazines and journals on various issues of public and professional interests. Some renowned architects have a balance between practice and writing. Architect Romi Khosla has contributed immensely toward architectural journalism, so also architect Gautam Bhatia. New genre include architect Apoorva Bose based in Bangaluru, who is a freelance architect-writer.
Teachers in architecture must write. The art of technical and professional writing is necessary component of an academician’s profile. ‘Publish or perish’ is a catch-phrase for those in academics. Writing a book should be the ultimate aim for a passionate teacher. But it is “a slow building process” advocates Megan Padalecki a self-publisher who graduated in architecture from University of Texas at Austin and went on to win a National Indie Excellence Award for her first book for children Big Mo in 2015. So, when one becomes a writer or a journalist “we learn to articulate ourselves by using descriptive language and rhetoric”, says Ariana. Arundhati Roy studied architecture at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi but chose to write. Her novel God of Small Things received Man Booker Prize in 1997 and was awarded Norman Mailer Prize in 2011 for distinguished writing.
- Architect as Law Expert: This is strange as one has to earn two professional degrees to practice a combination profession. However, legally one can practice only one profession at a time and not two simultaneously, but getting advance degree or knowledge is always advantageous. There are a few cases where an architect also has gained knowledge and become expert in interpreting building byelaws. Also, as architect one can become arbitrator which gives scope to get into legal domain to work. Architect Madhav Deobhakta based in Mumbai and ex-President of the Indian Institute of Architects is an arbitrator of acclaim. He has written a book on Professional Practice in India. Practicing legal profession is a daunting task. Every sentence that you write should have one and only one meaning. A combination of architecture and law requires the ability “to read very, very carefully and very, very precisely”, says Jay Wickersham an M. Arch. from Harvard University and attorney specializing in environmental and land-use law. Architect Muzaffar Ali Khan from Hyderabad was expert in interpreting law. He had won a case about his fees for a cinema hall design in which the owner refused to pay fees due to him. He alone defended the case and recovered all his fees from the owner through court order.
- Architect as Photographer: Sense of composition and understanding of colour and contrast are equally important in architecture as well as photography. Photography is to write with the help of light. In architecture we express graphically, drawings and pictures included. Hence, if an architect wishes to passionately pursue the field of photography and would like to focus on architectural photography, it is no wonder! Architectural or building photography can be taken as an ad-on in many exciting ways by further focusing on aerial photography, table top photography, photographing new projects for architects and realtors for their website and print material.
It is part of media or commercial photography. Architect Eugene Pandala from Kerala, a teacher par excellence and head of a school of architecture, lately practiced his hidden talent in photography, created an excellent portfolio of his work on wildlife and Antarctica; some of his photographs are accepted by the famous National Geographic magazine. Architect Yashwant Pitkar, a JJ College of Architecture professor from Mumbai is an ardent photography expert, who conducts workshops on photography at various scenic locations. Photography is crucial to architecture as it helps dealing with significant issues such as pre design analysis of the problem, site and case studies of similar projects, says Andre Fanthome, National Academy Award winning photographer based in New Delhi.
- Architect as Entrepreneur: To be a successful architect one needs business acumen. It includes management skills, sense of financial literacy and marketing talent. This domain can be effectively used to enter the world of business, production and management. Networking is one of the prime consideration an architect turned business person would vouch for. Other skills that are important to get into the business milieu are: First try hard to get a project and then plan a strategy scratch to finish for its completion, at every important forum or at a school of architecture stay connected through special lectures, slowly turn your organization into a brand people will reckon with and so on. Digital marketing is the call of the day with amazing results to reach population and get inquiries. “…it’s one of the best ways to reach large audiences and catch the attention of many potential clients around the world at the same time”, says Sabrina Wirth in her article ‘9 Creative Business Development Strategies for Architects and Designers’ in Archipreneur. Iterative approach is a mainstay of design process and is used in business for strategic decision making. One needs to be strong at mathematics and number crunching. You need to tell your potential employers “how your architectural skills make you a good hire”, emphatically declares Chris Wong, M. Arch. from University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Wharton School, now a management consultant at McKinsey & Co. Laila Khalil did her architecture at Manipal in 1999 and then MBA from Texas A&M University. After a few job hops she went to become Country Property Director at AB Volvo and now is the Director of Corporate Operations and Community Relations at Lowe’s India.
Padma Vibhushan, industrialist Ratan Tata received his degree in architecture from Cornell University in 1959. He served on the jury panel of Pritzer Architecture Prize in 2015. He is of the opinion that ‘architecture enhances quality of life’. He established Tata Scholarship Fund of US $ 28 million that allows Cornell University to provide financial aid to undergraduate students from India with preference given to students in the college of architecture, art and planning among others.
Anand Mahindra went on to study film making and architecture from Harvard University and graduated in 1977. He is a billionaire businessman and chairman Mahindra Group. He donated US $ 10 million to support establish Mahindra Humanities Centre at Harvard.
- Architect as Valuation Expert: Valuation of movable and immovable properties is an ever growing field in which an architect can certainly enter. Hundreds of organizations need valuation of their properties for myriad of purposes. A valuer can be anyone well educated and an expert in his/her field and appropriately registered. So, a jeweller can be a valuer to assess valuation of ornaments and precious metals. An architect certified in valuation by the Government of India finds good number of opportunities to work on. A valuer visits the project site and does survey and carry out valuation based on age, depreciation, present condition and maintenance record, rise in building and land price and arrives at accurate present worth of a property or an updated book value. Many organizations like banks, insurance companies have their panel of valuers. They often call them for consultancy and valuation assessment. Many architects have left their design consultancy and turned to full-fledged valuation practice.
- Architect-Product Designer: Michael Graves notated architect and consumer product designer did his architecture from University of Cincinnati in 1958 and thereafter masters from Harvard. As architect, Portland building in Oregon is his famous work. He worked as a professor in Princeton University, but his passion was to design consumer wares. He was a designer for Target Corporation a major consumer product chain in USA and Walt Disney Co. as well. Among many products, whistling kettle as a product is well known. Chetan Shedjale did his architecture from Solapur. Instead of designing buildings, he developed interest in designing motorbikes. He took further education in The Netherlands. Today he designs bikes for Harley Davidson and has five international patents in his name.
- Architect as Film Maker/Set Designer/Actor: The world of film making attracts all those who have passion, creativity and ability to express through such a medium. Christian D. Bruun did M. Arch. from Aarhus School of Architecture, Denmark. He is an International Film director, producer and cofounder of Light Cone and produced films like: Blue Gold –American Jeans and The Man who saved the World in 2014 with Kevin Costner in the lead. Anshuman Prasad studied and practiced architecture in India. His decision to design for cinema brought him to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, where his graduate thesis entitled Beyond Mis-en-scene: Narrative through Architecture in Mainstream Cinema inspired a number of students to follow in his footsteps. From the nightmarish sets of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (2011) to the finely engineered Batwing in Batman Vs Superman (2016) his journey has been about fulfilling his passion. So also is the famous Hollywood actor Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) In high school, he won an architecture competition. He studied art and architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright, at Wright’s Arizona residence and his Wisconsin studio, Taliesin, later zoomed in acting field with 150 films, Academy and Golden Globe Awards.
Film making is an art. Architects do not lag behind in this domain. Architect Shaleen Sharma did Bachelors in Architecture from the TVB School of Habitat Studies and Masters in PRASADA (Practice Research and Advancement in South Asian Design and Architecture) from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. Shaleen is also known for exploring the medium of film in the context of Architecture. He has made several documentaries for University Grants Commission on the subject of Architecture. Garden of the Heart: A Film on Architect Joseph Allen Stein is one of his well acclaimed documentaries. A response documentary on Bhuj Earthquake for the Council of Architecture, New Delhi is a finely composed work. Nachiket and Jayoo Patwardhan an architect-duo did Bachelor of Architecture in 1971 from Maharaja Sayajirao University Baroda Gujarat and Film Appreciation course in 1978 from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune. The duo has directed four films. “22nd June 1897” – a film in Marathi and English won Silver Lotus National Award as 2ndBest film of the year as well as Best Art direction first ever award and Local state award for best direction & Art direction and Filmfare award (Popularity award); screened at Manheim Germany Debut Film festival in 1979. Tejas Prabha Vilas Deoskar did B. Arch. from Nagpur University in 2005 and immersed into the world of cinema by taking an advanced course in Film Making at London Film Academy in 2010. His recent film a 2018 production Bucket List in Marathi with acclaimed actress Madhuri Dixit had made waves. Riteish Deshmukh earned architecture degree from Kamala Raheja College of Architecture Mumbai. He practiced for a year with an overseas firm and returned to set up his own firm Evolutions which does works in architecture and interior design. However, his interests were to become actor in films and produce films. He acted in over 50 films and got International Indian Academy Awards.
Siddharth Badve passionately took part in Firodia and Purushottam trophies for one act plays during college days. Graduated from Sinhgad College of Architecture in 2017, he underwent acting coaching at Anupam Kher’s institute ‘Actor Prepares’. Later he joined short Film Making course at Sakal International Learning Centre. He started his career as assistant director for movies like Machine and Hrudayantar in 2017 and Lagna Kallol in 2020. Now he soon will have his acting debut in Hollywood movie Escape from Black Water.
Priyachandran Perayil did B. Arch. from Manipal University in 2000. After a while working in architectural firms in Bangaluru, he realized that working this way was not his cup of tea. He says, “I was always interested in films, but had no clue how and where I would fit in, especially since I was not trained in any discipline related to films. I had a small group of film crazy friends and we used to discuss films. I was part of their attempts at short film making, sometimes behind the camera and sometimes as an actor”. Started with making short films at home with whatever resources available, he then fully jumped into celluloid world and made three documentaries and short films. The third one, ‘Yathra’ won the best picture award in BMZ Film Festival.
Drawing parallel between architecture and films, Priyan retorts, “A script and storyboard in film making is similar to what an architectural drawing is to construction on site. One could construct a building without drawings, but you know how that will turn out. In films too, the planning is crucial”.
- Architect as Animator and VFX Specialist: Architect, due to inherent creative inclination, can make way into the ever-growing field of animation and virtual reality. Alyce Tzue did B. A. in architecture from Princeton University and further specialized in 3D animation. She advises to “hone your animation skills at an art school that offers a collaborative environment”. It can be joining an online animation school like Animation Mentor or AnimSchool. Animation is being extensively used to promote architecture projects through 3D Max and other software. Also, these days feature films use animations to create desired effects and to project larger than life image on screen. Bahubali and its sequel is an example to prove how vfx specialist can create a virtual world with mind boggling reality. “Ability to place yourself in an imaginary space is critical to animated films”, opines Alyce.
- Architect as Musician: Iannis Xenakis born in Romania and went to Athens to study architecture and engineering at National Technical University of Athens. Later on he worked with Le Corbusier‘s architectural studio. Some projects he worked on are: a kindergarten on the roof of an apartment block in Nantes (Rezé), parts of government buildings in Chandigarh, India, the “undulatory glass surfaces” of Sainte Marie de La Tourette, a Dominican priory in a valley near Lyon, and the Philips Pavilion at world Expo 1958. This was completed by Xenakis alone, from a basic sketch by Le Corbusier. His music contribution is through Metastaseis (1953–54) for orchestra, percussion works such as Psappha (1975) and Pléïades (1979). Remo Fernandez a Goan studied architecture at Mumbai but his passion for music compelled him to choose music his career. He became famous pop singer and conducted his own concerts, gave music to movies and produced albums like Indian Beyond and Symphonic Chants. Recipient of Padma Shri award in 2007, his song ‘Humma Humma’ is famous.
- Architect as Cartoonist: Caricature is an art and the architect can comprehend it well. If the interest and opportunity takes you in this direction one can become a cartoonist responding to social and political trends and catching its salient features in his graphic expression. Ponnappa is an Indian cartoonist, working in Bangalore. His daily cartoon Offside is a regular feature of the local Times of India. He contributes to the Economic Times and his cartoons have also been featured in Midday in Mumbai over the past 17 years. Ponnappa was born in Mangalore in 1948. His early education was in Mangalore, Pune and Chennai. He graduated as an architect and went to Chicago for higher studies. A self-taught cartoonist, he began to publish cartoons in his college magazine. He had an eleven-year stint from 1970 to 1981 as an architect in Chennai, Delhi, and Lagos, before he turned into a cartoonist. He settled down in Bangalore in 1982 and has since then, had a career as a freelance cartoonist. Nischal Jain architect and faculty at Department of Architecture Malaviya National Institute of Technology Jaipur is an ardent cartoonist often responds to current news and publishes cartoons as hobby in social media. A short course in graphic design to supplement a degree in architecture can open up a range of possibilities to still work within the field says Ariana. Manoj Vijayan graduated as architect from Manipal Institute of Technology in 1987, but his interests lie in cartoon making. During college days he did cartoon-strip narratives for college magazine. Settled in Bangaluru, he continues his passion of cartooning.
- Architect as Politician: This has been a ‘no-no’ field for architects as they are trained to manage profession in a simple and straightforward way. They are not taught any inclination toward political science. It is time to understand that to remain in society, one gets involved in socio-political system. Some architects have been successful in the field of politics. One such example is of architect Piloo Mody, who graduated with a master’s degree in architecture from University of California Berkeley and back in India founded Swatantra Party.
He became Member of Parliament in New Delhi in 1967 and helped Indian architecture community to have its own Architect’s Act to practise way back in 1972. Now, there is a greater awareness and students find it increasingly interesting the field of politics for research. Professor Rupali Kavilkar, a PhD student of Pune University is investigating into architecture and political ideology since the last four years. Richard Swett an American politician from New Hampshire did architecture at Yale University and got associated with Democratic Party of USA. He was ambassador of US to Denmark in 1998. Maurice Cox did his architecture from Cooper Union School of Architecture and later on entered into politics and won the city council elections to serve as Mayor of Charlottesville in 2002. Someone has rightly said, “Design is worthless without power to execute it” and the real power comes from holding a political status. In Finland Andres Adlercreutz a first term Member of Parliament was educated as an architect and practised for a while before turning to politics. In Britain, architect Richard Rodgers serves in the House of Lords and runs his practice as well.
Architect as Disaster Management Specialist: Calamities and Climate Change have profound effects on human habitation. When a disaster strikes it adversely affect people and property which an architect is concerned about in design and execution. So, understanding trends of disaster onslaughts has become increasingly critical in the practice of architecture. As the domain of disaster management touches every vocation of study, it consequently becomes important for architects to concentrate on. The High Power Committee in the aftermath of Bhuj Earthquake of 2001 came out with the suggestion that architects and engineers need to be trained, if the losses due to earthquake have to be minimised in future. The result of this was to establish capacity building programs separately for engineers and for architects in all regions of India. One such programme was run at the Faculty of Architecture, Manipal University in South India by the author during 2004-09 imparting training to architects mostly from Southern regions. Architecture Program at Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) aggressively participated in disaster related issues at Bhuj. Hunnarshala Foundation at Bhuj was very active in relief, response and reconstruction programmes post-earthquake of 2001. Sandeep Virmani, its managing director, is himself an architect graduated from CEPT. Also, the Council of Architecture did a lot of relief work in putting together resources and design and construction of about 15,000 emergency shelters for affected people that resulted in production of a fine documentary Bhukamp aur Basera meaning Earthquake and Shelter. Hari Srinivas did his architecture from Manipal Institute of Technology in 1987 and went on to become head of United Nations Environment Programme and finally settled in Japan. Aditi Khodke did B Arch from Bhanuben Nanavati College of Architecture for Women in Pune but wanted to passionately be in disaster management field. She further studied Human Settlement programme at Asian Institute of Technology Thailand and finally carved her niche in disaster related domain to be in Japan.
“At present, I work as a policy researcher for an international think tank in Japan on an overarching theme of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Some of the topics on which I research include urban resilience, energy efficiency, and gender and disability inclusion in low carbon transport planning”, says Aditi.
- Architect-IAS/IPS Officer: As an architect with a B. Arch. degree you are eligible for civil services examination. For that you need compulsorily give civil services examination with basic requirements that: the Candidate must be citizen of India; s/he must have passed his/her graduation from a recognized university and also can apply in last year of graduation; s/he must be into the age group of 21-30 years and Male/Female both are eligible. Hari Narayan, born in 1985, did architecture at Hindustan Engineering College, Chennai. He had a childhood dream of becoming an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer. With patience, he did not lose concentration from his goal and cracked the coveted examination to score at 26th rank.
As an architect you need to take full advantage of your training period which occurs before you get your degree. Such internship placement can help you understanding of architectural practice and the industry from inside. It helps establishing good contacts and gives confidence and much desired skills as well. Also, potential employers get to know about you – your hard work, reliability and motivation. One of my students was a trainee at an architect’s firm. She was at times requested to prepare tea for the guests and to serve, which she gladly did. In turn she got to have close interaction with the guests and clients and learned from many business dealings. Another trainee was asked to maintain files, number them in a specific manner and stack them well. This was a boring job which the trainee did rather unwillingly but in the process learned how to maintain office records, which was useful in later years. During my own training at Mumbai in 1970, we were asked by the architect to survey an obnoxious slum area of Mumbai, which, to begin with, I protested but then did with some persuasion. This small exercise of quick survey and onsite measurements exposed me to the realities of slum living, which is alive in my mind till this day. Later on, during my post-graduation I prepared a term paper on slum development, in which my earlier on-site experience was reflected. During my Nigeria days, with desire of doing something for slum dwellers, I submitted a proposal on study of shanty towns of Lagos the capital city, which was promptly funded by University of Ife where I worked. The two year project gave me rich insight into African slums and their way of living, which I consider as a value- addition to my knowledge.
There are many other vocations in which an architect can possibly settle well. They can be film and theatrical set design, art direction, software development and operation, furniture design, visual communication, video game design, culinary art. Yes, culinary art can be learnt and practiced by anyone – architect included. Iacocca, vice president of Ford Motors used to advice to those having problems in their profession, to enter into food business, which can always make a living for you. If you wish to survive and grow against odds, there is no point being shy. Remember, the knowledge is ever expanding. New fields keep emerging as time passes. Chemistry emerged out of age-old alchemy. Mechanical and electronics gave birth to a new stream of knowledge called mechatronics. So, as an architect, if you feel the prospects are feeble to settle into main stream, do not worry. Rely on your inner strength and yet dormant passion, and sure you’ll carve out a niche for yourself to settle well in this world. Good wishes!
Note: The examples given here are only a few. Readers may be aware of more such cases where architects have opted to settle in a different field. Your observations will enrich author’s knowledge. You are welcome to send suggestions.
Liao Alice (2018), “Eight Alternative Careers for Architects”; browsed on 10th May, available at:
Sehgal, Kabir (2017), “Why You should have (at least) Two Careers”, Browsed on 15 July 2020; available at:
Zilliacus, Ariana (2016), “21 Careers You can Pursue with a Degree in Architecture”, browsed on 7th Nov; available at:
Dr Ravindra Deshmukh is Professor, DY Patil University School of Architecture, Ambi, Talegaon Pune;
Contact: [email protected]
Photo credits: courtesy through the author
Illustrations: Prof. Siddharth Jadon, Department of Architecture, Amity University, Gwalior.