The minimum standards of Architectural Education prescribe 15.25 sq. mtr. of space per student. For a class of 40 and a total of 200 students, the total space requirement, therefore, will be 3,050 sq. mtr. the norms for land prescribed are a bit vague since the area of land recommended is three times the plinth, and the plinth area will be related to the number of floors. In addition, additional land is also recommended for play-ground and also for future requirements. Unfortunately, the standards prescribed do not take into account the vastly varying land availability conditions and values in cities and towns of different denominators. In the metropolitan context, the expenditure on land and building alone could be 1.5 to 1.75 crores. We are thus discouraging coming up of new Schools in Metropolitan Cities. This is a paradox since the best faculty resources and other conditions are available in such cities. The standards for space, therefore, need to be modified in the light of this reality. This Workshop could consider whether the council could adopt different norms in different contexts.
There is a great deal even otherwise that could be accomplished if we recognise that the space in Architecture Schools can be designed for multi-functional use. Studios could be so designed that the same could also serve as lecture rooms. The Auditoria or Assembly Halls can be designed for flexible use. A division into two or three different units could always be made, when required and could release spaced for Exhibitions, Crit. Sessions, Seminars, etc. even open courts could be designed to contribute to teaching space.
Time has come for us to consider the use of “MOBILE STUDIOS” in each School to facilitate rural studies, measured drawings, historical studies, extension work, etc. to start with, the Important Regional Schools could induct the facility and encourage interaction with other Schools within reasonable reach of the Mobile Studio.
One third of the space in Architecture Schools is allocated to design studios. Very little attention has, however, been given to the design of compact and adjustable studio tables including lockers and drawing storage. The space prescribed for studios is 5 sq. mtr. per student, which should be reduced to 3.5 sq. mtr. We should design the studios consistent with the design and layout of the basic unit of the furniture, i.e., the Studio Table.
The same observation can also be extended to the design of the other equipment and spaces that go with it.
We also need to establish Simulation Laboratories in architecture Schools to conduct studies and research in subjects such as Lighting, Acoustics, Climatology, etc.
We all are familiar with the epidiascope, projectors, overhead projectors and to a limited extent, with Video projection on a larger screen. At the same tie in other parts of the World, teaching technologies have involved the use of Satellite Communication, Telephone, Radio, T.V., Audio and Audio-Video cassettes and many other innovative aides. It is no wonder that we are extremely backward in the use of advanced teaching technologies whereas a large number of existing Schools may still not have seen the light of a dark room for photography in their premises. Even the use of CAD facilities is creeping in only at a snail’s pace and once again, teaching will remain confined and constrained for many more years unless we master and introduce the technologies of the present at a faster pace.
We boldly made a beginning 7 r 8 years ago by introducing Distance Education in Architecture through an examination system of the Indian Institute of Architects. We continue to run the system even today without overcoming serious shortfalls of the system. Architecture being a design discipline cannot be taught and examined like empirical sciences with a casual or no contact with a teacher or a guide. The Sri Lanka Institute of Architects recognising this fact, while offering a seven-year Distance Education Programme, has made it compulsory that every student entering the examination system every year must register in their coaching School and attend classes on Friday evenings and Saturdays. This system provides for 10 Hrs. of contact between the teacher and the taught. It is in this context that the present Workshop may like to recommend to the I.I.A. the use of various types of technologies for training architects who wish to qualify through the informal Stream and also modify the system to bring the examinees in contact with design guides and theory teachers so that the system turns out professionals and not people with paper qualifications only.
The Curricula of the different Schools, and this is also applicable to the minimum standards prescribed, gives a very cursory recognition to many important areas such as Energy, Environment, CAD, Project Management, Advance Construction Technologies, Theories in Indian Traditional Architecture, Heritage Conservation etc.
Here and there we may offer some Electives or take up a short-term assignment, but sensible awareness of design and aesthetics have distanced present day architects from society. We sit on a high pedestal of our own making and in the process get somewhat isolated from hard and harsh realities around us. This gulf between the architect and society has been existing now for quite sometime and hardly any effort is being made, through our Education System, to bring the designer and the user together. The architectural profession cannot afford to wait for the common man’s perceptions to come up to his expectations. On the other hand, the architect’s work must be realistic enough to appreciate the aspirations of the common man, who has replaced by the highly educated, cultured and rich clients.
The need is to establish contact and credibility via the language of communication taught to the architect. The architects also require further exposure to social sciences and urban design so that buildings that we design in any settlement can be seen, used and felt in the same manner, both by the architect and the user. The architecture curricula need to include urban design issues so that our spatial concepts are developed enough to realise the difference between a city space and a city place. The architect must have a perspective to anticipate modulation such that the user is directional to convert the space into a place. The curricula, thus, needs to be examined to ensure that the architect through his training, and the user through his instinct can pursue the built and designed environment in the same light. A natural rapport should develop between them.
The physical infrastructure, equipment, teaching technologies and curriculum are only means to an end.
The process in architectural training is a continuous one at all levels. Let us then, today, come up with a fresh and innovative approach to keep the student, faculty, the profession and the common man attuned to the changing demands of the present era which if neglected will produce social discord, emotional conflicts and professional redundancy. A system of education, which brings in clarity and logical reasoning in the thought process, would ultimately upgrade both the profession and the living environs.