CategoryArchitecture

What is architecture?  This is an extremely difficult and broad question. It is a passion, a vocation, a calling as well as a science and a business. It has been described as a social art and also an artful science. Architecture is everywhere. Each and every building: home, school, office, hospital and supermarket were designed for their particular purpose. It is of vital importance that these buildings, and in turn the environments they form and the neighbourhoods and cities they are a part of, are designed to be the best possible buildings for their specific context, use and the people who use them. I plan to explain the different aspects of architecture through my articles.

How not to kill your houseplants

In the dense urban fabric that most of us live in, at times the only thing we see outside our windows is a concrete jungle. The best thing we can do to maintain our daily contact with nature is to bring nature inside our homes by having houseplants.

Having houseplants has many health benefits for one’s body as well as one’s soul. They are also a great way to decorate your home.

Home decor using houseplants

Plants can add so much life and beauty inside our homes. They can fill a corner, add life to a room and bring colour and texture into a space.

“I love that plants change as well — some change color with the seasons and others can fold in or spill out as they grow.” 

Jade Joyner, co-founder and principal designer of Metal + Petal.

There are numerous ways in which you can incorporate plants in your home design to accentuate your interiors. You can start small, with just one or two plants on side tables in your house, or you can go all out and create your own garden room filled with dozens of different plants. No matter how you decide to do it, decorating with houseplants helps bring the freshness of the outdoors in, and gives you a mini garden you can tend to all year round.

I am an architect and my interest in plants developed while landscaping my projects. Slowly, I started experimenting with them at home and once you start dealing with plants, there is no turning back. My husband and I kept getting more and more involved with our plants as just being around them gave us so much joy. We made many mistakes while nurturing them and we have had our fair share of plants dying. But slowly we are getting better and more sensitive to the kinds of plants that survive in the conditions available in our house.

Here is a quick glimpse of my house.

And a closer look at all the houseplants…

House plant care

Plant growth is affected by light, temperature, humidity, water, nutrition, and soil. To be a successful plant parent, you need to understand how the interior environment affects plant growth and how cultivation differs from growing plants outdoors.

Plants are like people: they’re all different and a little bit strange

John Kehoe

Hence, there is no single formula which works for all plants. You have to tend to them individually based on their characteristics.

Arrangement

Group plants in such a way that they appear casual and organic. When you can, group plants in an odd number. Using an even number can look symmetrical, making the arrangement look more formal

Shape, size and colour

Play around with plants of different widths, heights, shape, colour and foliage. The difference in size gives a more organic look than plants of the same size, which look uniform. Pay attention to the color of the plants you choose. For a cohesive look, put plants together that have leaves of the same color. For more variety, go for plants with foliage of different colors and shapes.

Decorative Pots

Pots can also add a lot of dynamism to your interiors. You can use pots with similar finishes and colors to make the arrangement look like a set. Or you can combine all your favorite pots of different materials and colors for an eclectic finish. The pots can also help in accentuating your interior theme. For example: Jute and cane planters go well if you have rustic and organic interior whereas solid coloured ceramic pots look better if you have a simple contemporary vibe to your place.

Indoor Green wall

Green walls or Living walls or vertical gardens are the ultimate blend of nature and art. They can look artistically stunning when in good health. While designing and composing the plants, consider the size and color of plants at full growth and how different textures, leaf shapes and heights will work together. It’s a game of trial and error, but plants can be replaced if something dies or does not work together aesthetically.

Indoor green wall at Imagine cafe, Mumbai

You can read more about Imagine cafe here.

Plant Parenting

Whenever I think of Plant moms, Rashi Jauhri is the first person I can think of. I have been to her house and the way in which she uses her healthy and beautiful houseplants to decorate her home has been an inspiration for me.

How has your journey been as a plant mom?


When I started buying plants some 6 years ago – my sister used to call me a “serial plant killer” because I killed most of them with over watering! From then to now, I have come a long way. With over 60 houseplants in my Bombay home – mint to monstera – grown from seeds, cuttings and propagated in water, I know what makes each of my plants tick. I’ve been using organic fertilisers, regularly pruning and with just the right amount of sun and water, they are thriving!

If you’re starting out as a plant parent, I suggest starting off with the easy ones like snake plant and pothos. Do your research – what plants are toxic to pets and humans, how much sunlight and water do they need and get them accordingly.

You can check out her Instagram profile for more plant, decor and DIY tips


Our next plant mom is someone with way more experience. Nina Roy has two big interests in her life. Handloom and houseplants. She runs her own handloom business which employs many artisans who hand embroider and bring to life her wonderful designs which we can see showcased in her own home in Parel. Her house has plants spread over all the rooms adding so much life and beauty to her interiors. Some of her houseplants like her adenium, have been with her for more than 18 years.

VD

What advice would you like to give to budding plant parents?


Growing and nurturing plants is a lot of work. I won’t complain because I enjoy personally taking care of my houseplants. Depending on the weather, I put them on the ledge by the window and water them once in 2/3 days. I feel the soil to see when it requires watering. I also spray and shower them once a week. Do not over water because the roots will die.

You have to really love your plants. As they say, ‘If you talk to your plants and show them how much you love them and care for them,they will thrive.’

You can check out her Instagram profile for more houseplants, handloom and decor inspiration.

The houseplant survival manual

Before becoming plant parents, it is important to know some basics and it is best to get these guidelines from someone professional. I have interviewed Sangita Ramesh who is a certified horticulturist with 15 years of work experience in this field. We owe most of our knowledge about plant parenting to her. Even today when our plants are looking a wee bit sad, the first thing we do is to share a picture with her and then blindly follow her instructions.

So let’s get started!

Sangita, Can you let us know about plants that will thrive at home under the following conditions –


1. Balcony

In a bright balcony with a direct sunlight of 6-8 hours, one can grow many plants. Flowering plants like –

  • Roses (Rosa species)
  • Jasmine varieties (Jasminum species)
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa sinensis)
  • Spider lilies (Hymenocallis littoralis), etc. 

One can also attempt Okra, Tomatoes, Beans.

Even in a balcony with lesser light (3-4 hours),  one can grow flowering plants like

  • Passion flower (Passiflora)
  • Star Clematis (Clematis gouriana),
  • Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea)
  • Butterfly ginger lily (Hedychium coronarium)
  • Costus (Costus woodsonii)
  • Alpinia (Alpinia purpurata, Alpinia zerumbet)
  • Heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum, Heliconia rostrata), etc.

Hanging basket plants like –

  • Purple heart (Setcreasea pallida)
  • Zebrina (Zebrina pendula) and other Tradescantia varieties
  • Clover or Shamrock/Butterfly plant (Oxalis triangularis) also do well.

You can also try plants like Croton varieties, Stromanthe, Golden cypress, Syngonium and varieties of Fern.

Plants of Gourd family and Beans would also do well in such light.

North facing balcony in my old house

2. Indoor but near the window

The direction of the window is also important. A South facing window may have more intense light then a window facing East or North. 

Close to a South facing window, one can grow plants like-

  • Pink Aglaonema varieties
  • Calathea varieties
  • Croton varieties
  • Types of Aralia
  • Episcia
  • Anthuriums (avoid exposure to direct sunlight though)
  • Torenia
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)
  • Most of the Palms
  • Dracaena
  • Cordyline varieties
South facing window in my current house

Example for plants closer to window with less duration of intensive light are-

  • Zamia Palm (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
  • Philodendron varieties
  • Money Plant (Scindapsus species) varieties
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
  • Shamrock
  • Nerve plant (Fittonia species)
  • Polka dots (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
  • Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
  • Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
  • Peperomia varieties.

3. Indirect but bright light

I would say most of the plants mentioned for East facing window works well in this category. Besides few more options to this are Dracaena surculosa varieties and Leea coccinea varieties.


4. Low light

Light is important for plants to thrive. While most plant may just survive in poor light, and eventually call it quits. There are just a few examples for plants that would be okay with less light which are Zamia Palm (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) and Snake plant (Sansevieria species) varieties. A good light will allow the plant to be more compact and bushier, low light makes the plant more elongated and delicate because of the compromised cell wall structure.

Snake plant and ZZ plant
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What does it mean when the tips of houseplants turn brown?


Brown tips usually are indication of poor water quality. My suggestion is usually to use filtered water for indoor plants not RO water necessarily. Thorough and less frequent watering rather than scarce and more frequent watering.

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How often should most houseplants be watered?


Deep watering and less frequent watering is the best method.One could either install moisture indicators or scrape top inch of soil to check before watering. It’s best to water SOS then to do a scheduled watering.

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How do you tell Underwatering vs overwatering?


A plant which is thirsty will have droopy and limp leaves that will perk up when you water it. While an overwatered plant will show signs of yellowing and may also go limp followed by browning of leaves. So, if the leaves are still green and as normal, but limp they need water. 

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How to get rid of bugs on indoor plants?


Houseplants are affected by mealy bugs most of the times. If the infestation is not very heavy, one may manually pick the bugs, but in case the infestation had spread, I usually use soapy solution to clean and spray the plants with. I also suggest drenching the soil with soapy solution to eliminate the pests hiding in the soil. I do not recommend using insecticide for indoor plants for obvious reasons.

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What are the signs that a plant needs to be repotted?


A plant needs a bigger pot when it becomes pot bound. The indications of a pot bound plants are that the leaves start becoming smaller and the plant growth starts looking stunted – as if all of a sudden it has decided to become a Bonsai. 
Having said that there are certain plant types that thrive being snuggly. Calathea varieties, Peace Lilies, Zamia Palms, Dracaena and most of the plants in Palms family thrive in pot bound conditions. They should be repotted only when there is no more space left for new growth to sprout.

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What care should be taken while repotting?


Take care of the following things while repotting your plants:

  • Maintain the collar. Do not plant too deep or too shallow. Don’t Bury the stem more than what was originally in the soil.
  • If the roots had coiled up in the old pot, loosen them up a bit. If you feel the need cut the brown hardened roots, but safeguard the white tender roots.
  • Do not disturb the root ball of the palms, they don’t appreciate it.
  • Pack the soil well to avoid air pockets and water thoroughly. I tell gardeners ‘pet bhar ke pani do’. Soil may settle, and you may have to top up a little bit if you have not compacted the soil while planting, but don’t overdo it (maintain the collar).
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What is a good soil mix for indoor house plants?


A good potting mix needs to have good drainage at the same time have good moisture retention properties. A ratio of 60% soil and 40% well decomposed manure is a good composition. You may want to add a little bit of wood ash or burnt wood coal to add to the filtration.

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What fertilizers or products will you recommend? How often should these be used?


There are many organic seaweed-based bio-fertilizers available in the market and they work well with most of the plants.
Having said that, I have experienced Peace Lily and Calathea do not appreciate fertilizers and plain filtered water works best for them. I have almost killed my most beautiful Calathea, because I got greedy and decided to fertilize them for faster growth – my bad. It took good amount of drenching with plain water to rinse the potting soil. The damage was considerable but they are recuperating, thankfully. As frequent as weekly or once in 10 days should be good enough. 

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What care should be taken while growing succulents?


Succulents are closely related to Cactus. The moment I say cactus, I visualize a sunny and hot desert. And that’s what it takes to keep them happy. Nice sunny location with very little water on a regular basis. The roots of succulents usually are only on the surface, so it’s best to water them scantily and almost daily.

Succulents at Exotica plant nursery, Hadapsar
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When and how do you prune indoor plants?


Pruning may not be a necessity for most cases if you have been regularly re-potting in a larger pot. But when you feel the plant is taking up space more than you can allow it to, you may want to trim for form or structure or make more plants (propagate). While pruning, cut needs to be just above the node not leaving behind a stub. Also use sharp secateur to ensure clean cut. A split or tear can result in damage to the plant. Try to ensure that the plant forms a callus before it comes in contact with water else it may lead to stem rot.

What care should be taken while executing an indoor green wall?


For indoor green walls, selection of plants based on the light available is the most critical part. Avoid using plants with different growing conditions in the small wall. Avoid placing the wall very close to AC draft or a fan breeze. I feel everything applied to plants being grown in containers, apply to growing in greenwall, its the orientation that changes.
Growing method (Pot or Felt) is what will be a decide the longevity or life of the greenwall. In my opinion felt is a better option for longevity as the plants don’t become pot bound.
It is better to grow green walls in soil less media (like coco peat). and hence fertilizer or nutrition is of importance for growth and vigor.

So now what are you guys waiting for? Ready, set, grow!

PS – If you have any questions for Sangita, please ask them in the comment section below and we will get back to you.

4 reasons why in 2020 renting a home is better than buying

Today, in the midst of a global health and economic crisis, there is one thing that I (VD) and R are thankful about every single day – the fact that we do not have the burden of a home loan. Amidst huge pay cuts and running our own cafe, we shudder at the thought of what would have happened if we had bought the flat we are staying in today, instead of renting it.

It is etched in our tradition and possibly in many others to own a property. Generations of Indian jobbers have utilized their hard earned life savings to invest in a house, burying many dreams and desires just to secure a roof over one’s head. But is buying a house really that important? My whole life I have stayed in the same house bought by my family. Therefore, till I started earning I was all in for owning a home. Only after that, when I started looking into buying property and doing some basic calculations, I realised that taking a huge home loan to buy a property in a city like Mumbai is not a good choice at all economically. The millennial generation is now realizing that buying a house may not be as beneficial or important as it is made out to be by the elders.

Why buy, when you can rent the same house for 25% of the cost every month?

Here are the 4 reasons why in 2020 renting a home is better than buying. These will help you to decide wisely on a choice that often has irreversible implications.

Cost:

Mumbai has a rental yield of 2.0 – 2.5%; your monthly rental comes to ₹ 20,000-25,000 for a property worth ₹ 1 crore, EMI for which will be around ₹ 80,000 – 1,00,000 . In Mumbai, the owner usually takes care of maintenance and structural repair costs. 

This is a summary showing the actual difference between monthly expenditures and wealth gained at the end of 20 years for a 2BHK large flat in Mulund, Mumbai. This flat is in a newly constructed high rise complex with a clubhouse, swimming pool etc.

I am also sharing the excel calculator sheet I used to derive these numbers.

After I had done these calculations, there was no doubt in my mind that in 2020, renting a home is better than buying one.

PS – There are many variables in this sheet and certain assumptions have been made while making this sheet. For eg: The interest rate, property tax costs, maintenance costs, tax breaks, investment growth rates etc. which will differ in different situations. I have taken very conservative assumptions about the investment growth rate. Put in the numbers based on your situation and take a decision accordingly.

Flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of ‘renting vs buying’ is the flexibility and freedom that comes with it. In today’s fast paced global society, we are all seeking change, new and exciting experiences or the ability to take that new job or give up your desk job and follow your passion. But it is hard to be spontaneous when you are tied down to something like a property and a 20 year long EMI. Owning a house forces you to set roots whereas renting makes it easy to relocate in the near future for work, for school/college, for family, or just because.

Also, renters can live virtually anywhere while homeowners are restricted to areas they can afford to buy. A home in the city might be out of reach for most home buyers, but it might be doable for renters. Although rents can be high in areas where home values are also high, renters can more readily find an affordable monthly payment than homebuyers.

In today’s economy, sometimes situations change so drastically that one day you might suddenly lose your high paying job and for a few months might struggle to make ends meet. By renting, you have the option to downgrade into a more affordable living space. But if you’re a homeowner with an EMI, it’s much more difficult to break free of an expensive house because of the fees involved with buying and selling a home.

And I am sure many of you are experiencing this thing right now, as we speak. We are in the middle of a global health and economical crisis. Banks are giving moratoriums but they are not interest free. Roughly with every EMI you miss, 3 of those get added effectively. So, by taking a 6 month moratorium, you have effectively added a year and half to your home loan term. Also, if you, as a homeowner have invested a significant amount of money in renovations, the selling price might not cover these costs.

Better quality of life

Owing to the fact that today even in big cities like Mumbai your monthly rent will be only 25% of your monthly EMI+maintenance + property tax expenditure, if you are renting, every month you will have a lot of extra cash. Of course, you should save and invest this extra cash but it also gives you the freedom to spend a part of it on daily comforts, better education for your kids or other luxuries like travelling and exploring the world.

Room to grow

The house you can afford to buy today won’t suffice you down the line once your family grows. This leads to a compromised lifestyle wherein either kids have to share rooms or they get no room of their own at all. On the other hand, if you are renting, your house can grow with your family, with a very small increase in your monthly expenditure.

What do you invest in, if not property?

So what do you do with all the extra cash with you by not paying an EMI? There are several ways to invest and multiply your money, with different amount of risk and reward associated with it.

But the most important concept to understand is ‘Always keep your savings separate from your investments.’ Confused?

Lock in a part of your money in safe investments like fixed deposits (FD’s), recurring deposits (RD’s), public provident fund (PPF), national pension scheme(NPS), LIC etc. These funds will give you a fixed return(which might not be very high), but no matter what you can be sure of those returns and rely on them, irrespective of the market volatility.

For the rest, have you ever heard of the proverb – ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket?”

Meaning, build yourself a diversified portfolio. You could invest in –

  • Stocks – This is a high risk high reward option where in both short term and long term investment options are available
  • Mutual funds – If you are in it for a long term, investing in mutual funds is a good medium risk option which can typically give you returns around 12%-18%.
  • Gold – I personally find physical gold a burden to take care of. But now, you can buy paper gold or gold bonds which get linked with your demat account at a click of a button. It is a good option to have as a part of your portfolio, as many a times when markets are crashing the rates of gold and silver are rising.
  • Rentvest – Rentvesting is when you purchase a property as an investment while living in a rental property yourself. As you’re buying an investment and not a first home, you can buy it in a more affordable location and put it out on rent. The income from the rent can be used to pay a part of the EMI for that property. This asset equity can be used later, as bank security to buy a home in your preferred area, or to purchase another investment. You could also rentvest in a retail or commercial property which has a better rental yield (around 6%) and typically lower maintenance costs.

Conclusion

If you have money lying around you and you are in it for a long haul, go for it!

If you have an existing property which covers at least 60%-70% of the cost of your new property, it might still not be that bad to take a small short term loan commitment and invest in the new house.

But before planning to buy a property mainly on an EMI, chart down your dreams, think logically not emotionally and do your math accurately.

Don’t forget I am an architect by profession who works at a real estate development firm. Designing and building homes is my bread and butter. So even if after reading all this you all still decide to buy a home, good for me!

References:

https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/tvw1RPzx9DMdYH3uyLQvFI/Renting-vs-buying-a-house-Figures-dont-lie.html

If you have any queries you can post them in the comments section.

Work+Culture

How I luckily got the best job ever!

November 2014, just 2 days after my thesis jury, I saw a mail for campus recruitment from Marathon developers. Usually, an architect doesn’t prefer working with developers as there isn’t enough design work, but, for me, this internship made a lot of sense as the location was very close to my home and I could go there on my new bike! I know, I know – it’s a pretty stupid reasonto choose an internship but I was so tired of 7 years of Mumbai-local-train-travel! So, I quickly responded to them and after 2 sets of assignments and an interview, I got the internship! All this happened in the first week after my thesis! Everyone else in my batch was still going through their post-thesis-hangover phase and no one had even started applying for jobs.

14th December 2014, I started my internship at Marathon developers. When I took this job I had no idea that this decision was going to change my life! 

I was a part of a very small design team started by Parmeet who was one of the sons of the owners. And by small, I mean really small. We were a team of just 3 people(including him). Parmeet (P) and Ritwik (R – my colleague and also his school mate) were two of the most amazing people I had ever come across in my entire life! They were so well read that it took me 3 months to realise that they were both not architects by education! Meeting them made me realise for the first time that in today’s world where we have so many resources available formal education is not everything. The most important thing is the willingness and passion to learn.  We have all read about Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs etc. who are all examples of people who succeeded in life without a formal education but this was my first time meeting people who would just decide to explore a new avenue and within 2-3 months would be skilled enough and execute big real life projects as well. (You will come across more stories about the mind blowing things these people do everyday in my posts to come!)

Ever since I was in college, I wanted to be an urban planner and do my masters from CEPT, Ahmedabad. Every year I would give the entrance exams for M-Arch courses and not apply to colleges. I was enjoying my work so much that I didn’t  want to leave it half-way and go. A couple of years after I joined Marathon, I went to interview students at CEPT to hire them and expand our team. When I came back from CEPT is when I realised that I definitely did not want to study any more. I really needed to convey that to my parents so that they would stop making me apply for these exams. Being with these people made me realise that there was no need to go to a college again for 2 years, spending lakhs of rupees to read books ( which I can do at home as well) and write theoretical reports when I could work on real life projects, actually impacting the society in a good way and earning money at the same time. Luckily, it wasn’t very difficult to make my parents understand my point of view and the post graduation chapter in my life ended before it started. 

Looking back now,  even today I am so proud of the young me for having taken such a radical decision and not getting overwhelmed by what everyone around me was doing. 

Coming back to how much I loved my job! 

Whenever I would meet my college friends I would hear horror stories from them about their workplaces. How no one was appreciated, everyone was underpaid, interns were treated like shit and above all that – the work they got to do was not engaging or interesting. 

That’s when I realised that I was the odd one out! Our team functioned in a completely different manner because we were led by two completely different and mind blowing people. 

  • I was paid well. My stipend was twice as much as the second highest paid person in my class and the highest CTC to start with once I became a permanent employee. 
  • I got really good design work and actual responsibilities irrespective of the fact that I was just out of college. Everyone would draft their own designs. I was designing a 26 acre township and a school in my first year itself. I was never ever treated as an intern. I knew they trusted me and that made me work harder as I didn’t want to let them down.
  • There was no hierarchy in our team. All decisions were made after a group discussion where everyone’s ideas and views were taken into account. No one sits in cabins. Everyone sits together in an open plan layout.   
  • Our team has flexible work times. We could come in whenever we wanted and leave whenever. We could work from home if we wanted.
  • We have unlimited paid leaves. I never had to take permission to take a leave, I had to just inform when I won’t be coming in. And this wasn’t just for me. Even P and R would inform us well in advance if they are not going to come in at work. Every member of the team was treated as an equal and with respect. 
  • I was always appreciated for good work and constructively criticised as well when needed but never in an insulting way. 

As a result of all this freedom, the overall productivity of our team is very high. 

Working with them not only made me a much better designer but a much better person. 

But this is not the case with most workplaces today. And this is a clear reflection of our society. Our society is awfully hierarchical – in communities, families and in workplaces. There often exists this hierarchical gap between the employee and the employer which hinders the flow of ideas between them. At most workplaces, subordinates cannot comment on or oppose the decisions of their bosses and bosses cannot accept the contrarian opinions of their subordinates in a constructive manner as it hurts their egos. As a result of this, many constructive ideas don’t actually get implemented affecting the improvement of the final product. One must never forget that good leadership requires one to surround oneself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.

Many of you might think that this method of working was possible because we were such a small team. But today in 2020 ,we are a team of around 30 people comprising architects, visualisers, accountants, engineers, marketing team and support staff.  We run all our projects independently of the entire Marathon Group system and still work in the same method we did when we were only 3 people. And we are not the only ones. More and more companies in the world are adopting workplace practices which promote non hierarchical attitudes of the members of the companies.

If not today, at some point in life all of you might be in a place where you will be able to define or influence the culture at your workplace or team. Make sure you do the right thing. Pay your employees well and listen to everyone. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. In a good, balanced and diverse team, everyone gets to play to their strengths safe in the knowledge that a teammate has got their back. Keep in mind that culture is always a work in progress. It can and will change. Make your organizations culture as important as your business strategy. It’s too significant to ignore, and shaping it is one of your most important responsibilities as a team mate. 

10 things one should undoubtedly do during Architecture college

10 things

Architecture college is always very frustrating in the beginning. At times one has to struggle to obtain passing marks. Initially, it becomes very overwhelming, to try and manage the intense studio hours, long after studio work hours, to familiarize with new skill sets,  learn to explain and present oneself, learn to become more observant and critical and in particular learning about the new design ‘language’ and discovering one’s own design principles is usually a big struggle.

It’s  almost a year since I am working, out there in the real world, and I have already started realizing what mistakes I made, what opportunities I missed and what processes of learning I didn’t indulge myself in during college years. Through my own experience and in no particular order here is what I think one should certainly do during the college years, for the future good, as college is not only about following the curriculum and having fun but also about setting up a foundation for one’s future.

1. Read…Read…Read…

Reading is very important, in general. But by reading I don’t only mean reading architectural books. Obviously that’s also important but your knowledge base will always become better and stronger once you are exposed to much more than only architecture. Hence, one should start reading about more varied topics like – photography, art, history, travel, different cities – their cultures and their trends, economics, business, management, design (Not only buildings. It can be furniture, electronics, automobiles etc.), etc. In short, whatever interests you! I know, at times it’s really difficult to read those thick heavy books but today we have so many other options to read from online (Your source could be magazines, blogs, cool websites or maybe even Pintrest boards!) that even if you are not a book lover you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to not read. Remember, where there is a will there is a way.

2. Have a broad set off mentors and advisors.

When studying Architecture usually students isolate all of their influences and mentors to people who directly work in the industry. While it is important to have these people guide you, it is also equally important to have many influences and mentors from outside the industry. This allows one to learn from people with vastly different perspectives and considerations and to then apply this thinking back into architecture, creating a broader and more interesting forum for discussion and negotiation.

Limiting your influences can quite simply lead to producing designs that look generic because one can only imagine the reproduction of what they know or have seen. Having broad motivations and influences will allow you to constantly inform your peers and tutors and to keep them engaged in your projects and processes by showing them a perspective which is unique and outside their own.

3. Take your electives with more interest to learn about that topic, rather than because of the fact that you have to do it.

I know, I know architecture college life is already full of submissions. Who wants to take upon more submissions on oneself? Hence, when you have a chance to choose one elective from a bunch of them your criteria’s are usually – Which professor is the most lenient? Or which subject would require least work at home?

To be frank even I never took them too seriously. But now, I really wish that I had taken the electives more seriously and tried to expand my knowledge in those subjects which would have maybe helped me with my job today.

4. Break the rules.

It is really important at times to go beyond the design brief and even question everything in the given brief. For example – ‘The structure shouldn’t be higher than 7 floors’ or ‘Allocate spaces for these 10 different sports’. However, if you have a better solution, break and/or negotiate the rules – but always understand why. Always remember, unless you ask questions you will never find their answers. Like, ‘Why can’t I go higher than 7 floors if I have the necessary open space requirements around the structure?’ Or ‘Do I really need to give separate spaces for all these sports?? Can’t I design a space which can work for most of them?’ There is never a straightforward answer rather it is all about hypothesizing many and asking the right questions. By doing this you think about how architecture works as opposed to only how it looks.

5. Be a creative problem solver.

Not an amazing sketcher like your classmates? Or a very untidy modelmaker? Or not that good with computers?

To be a good architect you necessarily don’t need to have all of these qualities within you, but you DO need to be a creative problem solver. Skills can always be developed but a good design always emerges from finding creative solutions to the problems (which now-a-days everyone calls OUT OF THE BOX THINKING) and also by rationally analyzing the entire critic you receive on your idea.

6. Keep upgrading your skills.

Your tools of communication will significantly affect your ability to communicate your design concepts and ideas. You need to develop strong visual, verbal and written communication skills. Also never be afraid of upgrading these skills or learning new software’s or techniques as and when things come in the market. Something as simple as mastering Google search, new software’s or getting models laser cut can increase your efficiency and the quality of the final output significantly!

7. Learn to take criticism positively and re-evaluate your thoughts.

Design is a very subjective field. Not always will you find your juror’s agreeing with your ideas. At times in the jury they might take your case which can be quite demotivating. But rather than losing your confidence or giving a deaf ear to their comments and criticism (Remember, it’s not necessary that you are always right!) it is very important to slowly go through each of their comments, analyze and re-evaluate your design. You never know, that criticism and the whole rethinking process it forced upon you might now take your design to another level.

8. Last minute changes do more harm than good.

It’s always hard to stop designing, especially in college. One always feels that there is still a scope to better the design but one must never forget that at some point the goal is to present the concepts, the drawings, and models to support your ideas. If you think that it is going to take you 3 days to build your model the way you want it, 2 days to complete and render your drawings and a couple of more days to compose your sheets, leave yourself the appropriate amount of time. If you have all these great ideas and no method to effectively communicate them it’s all a sheer waste.

9. Process is as important as the final product.

Once you have a strong thinking process and an evolutionary design it is difficult to stop, while without a base thought, it is difficult to start. Our beloved faculty hopes to see progress every single week and if you start developing your design from day one without stopping, it is unlikely you will feel the need to pull an all-nighter before submission time. The most successful projects are unlikely to be developed in just the night before the submission and design tutors are well aware of the students who haven’t slept based on the thoroughness of their project. Having this kind of design practice will also knock out the need for major last-minute design changes that often do more harm than good. Last-minute changes are usually less resolved and less likely to be communicated successfully.

10.Do smart productive work and not donkey work.

I have realized that I have done a lot of donkey work through the 5 years of college. It wasn’t always my choice, at times I restrained myself from taking the newer more efficient way and at times, the system forced me into it.  But I never opposed or never went to my teachers with better ways of doing it and trying to convince them to accept the new way to do things. Maybe, if I would have tried, they would have also given it a thought.

I hope everyone studying architecture, or planning to study architecture finds this article helpful. For anyone who has finished architecture college or currently learning things along the way I did love to hear your own experiences and advice in the comment section below.

Fundamental quirks of an architect

Comic strips are one of the best mediums to express an idea or explain a situation.

Here is a compilation of few illustrations by famous illustratours on the peculiar character of typical architects along their journey through college as a student to the real professional world out there.

When assignments put you in awkward socially humilating situtaions-

‘Research before design’ is the mantra we are always taught in architecture school. And the result of it we all have experienced…!!!!

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Source: theblueinkblog

The night before the marking-

This one needs no explaination…

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Source: http://www.calvinandhobbes.co.uk/

The day after the marking-

Neither does this…

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Source: theblueinkblog

When seniors choose the not so right way to teach their juniors-

Learning from seniors is an integral part of architecture college, but it has its own repercussions 😛

2010-01-12

Source: http://architexts.us/

When architects go out for dinner – 

Cant help but concentrate on everything else except food.

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Source: http://architexts.us/

When you are one of the lucky interns-

The usual belief – Interns dont know shit!! So if you get to do somethimg productive during your internship you know you are the lucky one!!

2015-06-17-it's-good-to-be-an-intern

Source: http://architexts.us/

When being late at work is not as simple as only losing attendance-

Being late = Losing money *sighs*

2012-01-30-bootingup

Source: http://architexts.us/

Because everyone hates the IT department in office-

Yes we are architects. We work on atleast 5 softwares at the same time and need a beast of a machine to get work done. but alas, not all wishes come true!

2014-08-25-viruses

Source: http://architexts.us

Because we all know the bitter truth of an architects life –

Everyone earns more than us , right from the model makers to the rendering consultants to the interior designers. Oh did i just forget to mention my driver?

2014-08-27-architects-in-fiction

Source: http://architexts.us/

Because we are designing one of the most complex products-

Yes the whole process of developing one of the most complex products from its inception to execution to reality is not only tedious and full of challenges but an extremely slow process. And you have no option but patiently deal with it.

how long it takes to get a development permit

Souce: http://pintday.org/archimatects/

Text and compilation – Vidhi Shah

Home sweet home

Since I was a child I have heard people telling me that a HOUSE is distinct from a HOME. When I was in third grade I took part in an essay competition and won the first prize for writing an amazing essay on HOME SWEET HOME, partially prepared by my mom. I still remember that the essay talked about a house being mere walls and roof protecting the inhabitants from rain, wind and the scorching sun but a home being a place where one creates memories and shares experiences with one’s family. A place which one treats differently than any other, the place where one feels more comfortable than anywhere else. A place which one feels is better than the best of palaces and mansions; that’s your home. I clearly remember using a quote which read as, “A happy family makes a happy home” and I completely agree to it.

Home sweet home

But today I am a student of architecture. On the first day of my architecture college some professor told me that – “Architecture starts where engineering ends.” A house can very well be built by an engineer. And now when I think about it I feel that if it’s true that it’s the people living in a house that convert it into a home then what am I as an architect for? Surely I am not doing this painstakingly tiring but absolutely interesting course, breaking my head with form, space, scale, light and order for nothing!!!

Of course not. I as an architect obviously play a part in making a house into a home. But to know how keep reading my blog!