Here’s A Glimpse Of What The Life Of An Architect Really Is!

Legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s once attributed architecture to be the ultimate prize of one’s imagination over a range of things they can control — of materials, methods and men — in order to put others where they rightfully belong: their own piece of land. These words may have caught the undercurrent of the creative superiority of the field of architecture, but it also denotes that quintessential quality of je ne sais quoi that comes with the profession.

The life of an architect comes with the acknowledgment that their imagination will come to a fruition in the form of a physical manifestation, something that most of their peers from different fields do not get to see. But don’t be fooled with all the rose-tinted visions; there are challenges too! Let’s look at the different ways which make up the life of an architect.

Inspiration Can Strike Anytime

The benefits of an architect, especially those who travel a lot, is that literally anything that comes their way can give them an inspiration. The late architect Zaha Hadid’s spectacular structures, for instance, were physical manifestations of her various visions — be it the Phaeno Science Center in Germany that evokes the hills and valleys in concrete, or the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, which was inspired by sand dunes.

Some architects like to keep a visual note of their observations in the form of doodles, sketches or even written notes.

Architect examining a layout of a house

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The Line Between Art And Architecture Is Blurred

Most architects, during their technical training imbibe a sense of art and geometry in order to be able to pin down their blueprints and layouts. It’s easier to execute a project once they put it down on a piece of paper. With an acute sense of measurements and geometry, they become artists by default since most artists rely on grids and measurements to execute their work.

Most of the architects have been inspired by art movements. Cubism, the 20th-century movement, for instance, spurred a spate of architects to transform the two-dimensional theory of the actual movement into a three-dimensional reality. Two of the most prominent proponents of the movement were Le Corbusier and Frank Gehry. In fact, Brutalism and futurist styles of architecture are said to have been derived from Cubism.

Jack Of All Trades

Being an architect doesn’t necessarily mean that their jobs end with creating a layout and overseeing a bunch of contractors and engineers carry out their bidding. It also means that they are up to date with the latest technology with regards to construction as well as the ones that are installed within the house. A fair knowledge about basic amenities such as plumbing, electricity, insulation, moisture control, sturdiness, managing footprints and so on, is of prime importance. It’s physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, design and art — all rolled into one.

It’s also important for an architect to find the right people to take care of every aspect of their projects. Think of it as an orchestra performance — you need the right person for the right part, or else, the whole sonnet is a disaster.

Thinking Out Of The Box

Most often, architects are riddled with one dilemma: how much of the project should be their input, and how much their client’s? Clients are known for enforcing their set of rules and regulations and most of them turn up with a mood board created from other architects’ works. In such cases, the independent architect is faced with the question of how much leeway must they give to the client.

It is during crises like these that architects are compelled to think out of the box. Does the apartment overlook the sea? Bring in the double-layered glass windows (to protect the interior from excessive moisture) and board up those floors! Is the room too small? Make it white and add some glass or mirrors! It’s important for them to put forth an argument that makes the clients see a practical side to their spaces, which is, most often, more important than the aesthetic of it all.

ongoing construction

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Letting The Site Dictate Imagination

Nothing in architecture spells more relevance than how the site fits the context it is set in. Case in point: Scotland’s first design museum, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. In awe of the precipitous cliffs of Scotland, Kuma was inspired to create a staggering structure for Scotland, one made with stone and glass and located right at the banks of Dundee waterfront. Spectators and critics likened it to the actual geographical feature of the region, wherein earth and water were positioned side by side, where they belonged.

These organic processes lend a certain brevity to an architect’s imagination and execution. Most architects also end up using the materials found on the site, which brings forth an added level of depth into their work.

Architecture Improves Lives

It’s no mean feat to be able to rehabilitate thousands of people by adopting measures that are not just economical, but also sustainable. In third world countries, sustainable architecture has been a result of many an architect’s ingenious ways to improve people’s lives. For that, the architect needs to have their ears to the ground, making sure that proper government sanctions have been taken and the right contractor has been hired.

The idea of sustainable architecture is not a modern construct. After the First World War, many architects took it upon themselves to create housing schemes that use the materials appropriate for the financial situation of the time, while keeping high standards of living for those who had lost all forms of habitation during the war.

The Freedom To Dream Of Utopias

It’s easy to be taken by the idea of building a utopian city when you’re an architect. A perfect example of this is Le Corbusier and his concept of ‘radiant cities’. In 1924, the architect came up with a presentation and subsequently a book, about building a utopian city which was strictly on the lines of grids and urban housing. His idea of a perfect city was that of a ‘living machine’, in which everything has a designated place, there would be underground trains and housing systems. The closest he got to this system was with the new city of Chandigarh in India. However, his layout never actually came to fruition.

Many theorists and critics often draw an association between utopia and architecture. But isn’t that what architecture really is — the image of perfection? We think so.

Keeping Up With The Competition

Let’s just admit it: no man is an island. And that stands particularly true for architects. Most of them in the profession can only dream of working in isolation, but architecture is like a machine which requires different nuts and bolts. Additionally, it’s imperative for an architect to be aware of what others are doing in the industry. By isolating themselves, a creative individual is in danger of getting stuck in a rut, or worse, getting stuck within the same format.

In order to inculcate healthy and organic growth, architects often have to keep themselves up to date with what’s happening across the world, all the time. Not only does it inform the kind of work they want to pursue, but will also help them keep up a healthy competition.

Balancing Utility And Aesthetics

Being a successful architect is to be able to keep a healthy balance between functionality and beauty. Sure there’s appeal in aesthetics, but it’s science that keeps the house running. Inspirations and imaginations will be valid only if they can be lived in. An architect has to visualize an expression as more than just an outline. They fill in the details, the colors, even the emotions it should evoke in the homeowner.

Architects don’t have the luxury to dream up a landscape out of nowhere. There are  contexts and efficiencies that need to be kept in mind too. Their job is to go deeper into the floor plan and make sure that they don’t just lead a team of engineers but also become a part of them to ensure that the project they create is a lived experience, and not one that should have stayed on a piece of paper.

construction project

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All Projects Meet With The Same Amount Of Love

It’s hard for an architect to truly fall in love with one project. Sure, there can be a few favorites, in terms of how easy it was, or the kind of materials they got to dabble with. But it’s impossible for them to label just one as their true love. Reason? Because they put in the same kind of dedication and perseverance in all of their projects!

It’s true when they say that true love is the sum of all parts, and not just one. It’s the same for an architect.


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