So, you’re thinking of studying Architecture?
There are two types of architecture students: creatives, and creatives who are interested in the technology and construction of buildings. Only those in the second group will become successful architects.
If that frightens you, and it should, take consolation from this: a degree in architecture is a degree in transferable skills.
A student of architecture is a student of communication.
We all have ideas, some of us have brilliant, fascinating, wondrous ideas, but very few people understand how to communicate those ideas to the outside world. If you think that the quality of your brilliant, wondrous etc., idea will shine through despite your poor communication then you’re wrong. It won’t.
From the beginning of your architecture training you will be required to think of something original, interesting (and if possible brilliant) and present it to your peers. You will be encouraged to use an arsenal of tools to help you with this daunting task, including pens, cardboard, glue and a laptop. You will be given a couple of weeks to refine your idea and think of a suitable way to present it, you will of course, spend most of this time in the pub.
Unlike the architectural student, the architect in practice is rarely required to come up with a brilliant idea in a vacuum, instead their job is complex, creative problem solving.
Bringing all of your experience and skill to bear on the problem of building something which suits: your client’s needs and budget; the local planning regulations; the characteristics of the site; the time-frame in which the building must be built; and your own aesthetic sensibilities; is not easy. Yet once you have found a solution (often one which requires a large amount of out-of-the-box thinking) you face the same problem as in your student days:
How do I communicate this idea so that my client understands it?
If you can find a way to make your client understand the complexity of the constraints that you are working with, that will help them understand why you have chosen this particular solution. To do this you will need to draw on your training and experience to find a way to explain or demonstrate by some graphical means, the impact or effect of each constraint.
As a student architect you will learn the disparate skills of graphical, oral and written communication. You will learn how to draw diagrams, build models and get the attention of a room full of people. You will learn how to choose which information to present and which would confuse your audience. You will learn how to communicate abstract ideas using images.
To succeed today every company in every industry has to communicate to the outside world. Whether you’re selling innovative software, finding ways to demonstrate the outcome of bio-medical research, or providing training material for law students, you need to understand how to get your message across. The communication skills you learnt as an architecture student will give you a major advantage whichever field you work in.
So, you’re thinking of studying communication?