While the built environment laws remain obsolete in our country, Prof. (Dr.) Jaideep Chatterjee, Vice Dean, JSAA shares his thoughts with Gunjan Joshi on how individuals can cater to other architectural roles.
What should be the vision of an art and architecture school as far as employability is concerned?
Let me begin by describing our programmes. We have started two programmes, the first one is B. Arch programme and the second one is BA (Hons) in the built environmental studies. Regarding employability, typically in a B.Arch programme internships are required by the time a student completes his undergraduate studies. But, Design Studio projects in both of our programmes are prepared in collaboration with industry partners. So, students with us will be working with industry partners throughout five years.
The idea of enhancing employability in inbuilt in both the programmes. It is unlike other institutes where students will take admissions and we will think about placements only at the end of a programme. A student will work on a studio project at the end of every year. Now, the other programme which is BA (Hons.) in Built Environment Studies and is a slightly broader programme than architecture. It prepares students to work in a much broader role in the architectural arena. Students can work as the heritage consultant, sustainability consultant, city managers, housing experts, and realty experts. Again, all students in this programme will work with our industry partners. The way this programme is prepared, it will give students live experience. In the US, it is known as co-op form of study.
How do you plan to imbibe the latest trends of architecture such as sustainability and eco-friendliness in your students?
These may be trends for people but they are bread and butter for architecture. Sustainability has been an issue in architecture and built environment studies since the 1970s. Our coursework is in accordance with both of these factors. It doesn’t make any sense to separate these two from art and architecture. Our architectural programme has two parts. First is design studio in which students learn how to make a building or an infrastructure. Students which are interested in sustainability, environment, and heritage can opt for the second alternative which is known as minor. We give an additional credit to students in those areas in which they are interested. There is a comprehensive list of 16 such minors.
How does your curriculum cater to industry-academia disconnect?
The point to ponder is that why are students hardly employable. The situation is same in every discipline. The architectural courses traditionally in most of the institutes are based on principles of 19th century. The students in these institutes learn to do designing on a paper first. The ‘act of building or act of constructing a building’ is not developed in students at these institutes.
The educationists in the arena of architecture need to think that how are we changing that. Our design studio doesn’t just stop at designing of a building on paper. The main difference between such institutes and us is that we are making our students work on live projects. Hence, every design which a student does is not hypothetical. They will work with our industry partner to construct a building in a project. 20 hours of every week is given for this kind of work.
How can good architects become leaders of tomorrow?
I will not speak about just architecture. Architects just do one kind of work. By 2025, we would see 50 percent increase in the number of organizations in this arena. So, we need all kinds of professionals who can work in the built environment. According to World Economic Forum (WEF)’s report 2016, our cities have absolutely no talent or manpower who know how to manage a city, govern a city, or to plan a city. Our school is aspiring to become one stop-shop where not only architects but individuals having all such expertise will be developed. The building laws of this country have not changed since last 70 years. Who will be people working on areas of public policies and built environment laws? We will develop people like that.
Architecture involves a lot of inter-disciplinary studies. How faculty JSAA caters to this?
All of our faculty members have not the only background in architecture but also hold a graduate degree in a separate discipline. For example, I am trained as an architect at the undergraduate level but have I have a PhD in architectural degree and second PhD in anthropology. The only way forward in the architectural arena is a collaboration of various disciplines between public and private sector. Our greatest thrust would be on this. Typically, architects and individuals who have worked in the built environment have never considered various roles for themselves. We are trying to develop individuals who can fit into any role related to the built environment.