To turn alternative career paths into serious career options has never been a cakewalk. The ambiguity of striding into a new field, hesitation of the acceptance, lack of training, knowledge and skills, all become huge challenges for those interested in pursuing these career paths. When it comes to a subject like architectural writing, that has established itself as a relevant and important contributor to the field of architecture, the absence of the above can close doors to a field that has a huge potential to affect the profession.
Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta, Bengaluru-based author and award-winning journalist’s own experience of taking up architectural writing as a full-time profession in 2005 immediately after her B.Arch from Chandigarh College of Architecture was shrouded with a lot of ambiguity, courtesy the lack of knowledge, training and professionals related to this specialisation in architecture. The constant queries that came to her from students and professionals globally about the subject was adequate to highlight the substantial global emergence and interest towards the subject, the heightened scope and avenues and the increased demand for architects with writing capabilities.
All along her career-path, one of the main aims of Apurva has been to create awareness around the subject of architectural writing through various platforms and mediums, initiating discussions that can make the subject a regular course in the architecture curriculum. Her recent endeavour to train students through a three/five-day masterclass in architectural writing has found great appreciation. Having conducted these workshops since 2016, the response to the recent ones at the School of Planning and Architecture Vijayawada (SPAV) (Feb 2019); BMS School of Architecture, Bengaluru (Sep 2018) and State University of Performing and Visual Arts (SUPVA) Rohtak (Feb 2019), highlight further the need for such training.
While many architectural institutions in India have been offering the subject as an elective, however untrained and unexperienced faculty, and the absence of a regularised course by the Council of Architecture, haven’t led to positive outcomes. The workshop devised by Apurva is a result of the discoveries, learnings, experiences, observations and analysis in her 13.5 years of the profession that has seen multiple collaborations with multimedia globally and interactions with professionals from the field and understanding of how critical thinking and writing can lead to discourses on architecture and design, which are catalysts in the profession’s development.
Calling them as ‘experiential’ workshops which offer skills, profound knowledge and hands-on experience to the participants, Apurva through the niche skills that she has developed in the subject over the years has been looking at demystifying the field, its growing relevance, opportunities and need in today’s world through these workshops. The masterclass introduces the required skill-sets for a good architectural piece, development of writing skills, different genres of writing and an understanding of the scope, avenues and present architectural publications in India. The aim is also to make the students more interested and confident about this career path and encourage the institutes to focus more on the subject and develop the curriculum in a more wholesome and detailed manner to generate wider enrolment from students.
The workshop that holds equal relevance for all the years has been divided into various sections and is a combination of classroom lectures, presentations, interactions, discussions and analysis and learning from different approaches to writing and case studies. The knowledge gained is then culminated into different unique assignments given to each student categorised on different genres of architectural writing, which are then reviewed and discussed in an open house. Intense interactions and discussions transform the class into an invigorating platform to clear the multiple myths and curiosities the participants may have on the subject.
The three workshops that Apurva recently completed have all been unique. While at SPA an eclectic mix of students from all the years from the bachelor’s and master’s from both the streams of architecture and planning were participants of the workshop; the BMS Workshop was worked out as an elective for the fourth-year students. At SUPVA the workshop was opened by the institution to the fourth-year students, however, many students from the other years found it extremely interesting and sat through the three days. At all the workshops, a lot of faculty members were also seen attending it; in fact, Apurva encourages faculty participation, as the need to train students as well as faculty is the way how architectural writing will become a potent tool in driving architecture. Huge round of applause needs to be directed to these institutions, where not only the motivating faculty realised the serious need of training their students in architectural writing, but the students exemplified equal focus, discipline and efforts to explore a new subject which could be considered as a chosen career path.
FACULTY AND STUDENTS PEN THEIR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MASTERCLASS
Architectural Writing is an added advantage to the students to master the skills to discourse ideas and concepts through developing individual writing style. There has always been a narrow gap between communicating drawings to others, which occurs due to overlooking of underpinning these visual representations. An alternate way to fill this gap is definitely by writing on deliverance of architectural work to a larger audience.
Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta as a recognised Indian expert in architectural journalism had recently shared her knowledge with our students at SPAV. She delivered interactive lectures and checked its application through a variety of interesting contextual exercises with students on one-to-one basis. She facilitated the students with hands-on experience in doing specific topics related to architecture, such as reviews, interviews, Op-Eds, research articles, profiles, etc. Her patience and perseverance were commendable over the task. As the students commented, ‘It was enjoyable and a new opportunity to view the architectural profession’ from a different perspective.
I feel architectural education in India is deficient to add towards the strength of architectural writing. SPAV shall be working on the revision of the curriculum by incorporating the subject on journalism and other technical subjects in the modified syllabus, so that the very essence of architectural writing can reach the students in their appropriate years
Prof. Dr. Minakshi Jain
Director, School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada
The three-day workshop on architectural writing by Apurva was an eye-opener for both students and the faculty. While the subject was not only presented as a promising and serious new career option, there were many aspects of it that were put up during these days, which were a revelation to all. Apurva happens to one of the frontrunners in this related field of architecture and architectural education. Since at SUPVA we offer the subject as an elective, the workshop was a great value-addition to understand the practicalities of the field from an experienced architectural writer. Her presentation skills were extremely effective and powerful, and the content was delivered with strategically planned themes.
With the knowledge gained from the workshop, we at SUPVA are looking forward to encouraging more students to take it up as a career option, so that they can contribute to the field of architecture in multiple ways.
Ar. Ajay Kaushik
Head, Department of Architecture
State University of Performing and Visual Arts (SUPVA), Rohtak
It is my interest and passion apart from teaching and research, and globally writing for magazines on planning and architecture. Interest in writing motivated me to coordinate the three-day workshop at our institute on “Experiential Learning in Architectural Journalism” by expert Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta.
Apurva’s presentation was well-planned and sequenced. It is worth mentioning that there were two positive outcomes (a) lectures focused on background learning for students on the basis of philosophy and principles of writing was very useful as the students began to understand the subject, and (b) the discussions on the practical and doing hands-on experience based on case studies including the book “Architectural Voices of India” was much useful. The exercise on writing and presenting was very motivating and encouraging to students, imparting them confidence. The way forward is that (a) the learning outcome induces them to write, and (b) architectural education may consider the inclusion of architectural journalism as a course
Prof Dr Abdul Razak Mohamed
Dean Faculty Welfare and Coordinator of the Workshop,
School of Planning and Architecture
TESTIMONIALS FROM STUDENTS
The experiential workshop by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta was an interesting introduction to the world of architectural journalism. Though I had an inkling towards writing before, this experiential workshop provided insights on writing more relevant to our field of study. Ar. Apurva ran a very compelling session for all the three consecutive days making it interactive and engaging throughout, clarifying any sort of doubts with each progressing topic. Her presentation was straight, non-fussy and concise. We learnt about the various genres, styles of writing, structuring and understood a range of literacy skills. The exercises she gave were enjoyable, as they helped us experiment, learn and effectively apply the concepts discussed.
On a personal note, the classroom discussions and critiques were very constructive and encouraging and the major takeaway for me was learning to methodically write on architecture. I must say the experience has opened the possibility of considering journalism as a career option, even if not full time.Haritha Devi
M.Arch, 1st Year, SPAV
The architecture journalism workshop conducted by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta was a great learning experience. There is an urgent need to propagate this sector in our profession and teach young minds just exactly how to go about it. This was successfully achieved in the workshop.
Personally, I was unaware of the different genres that architectural writing entailed. Much to my happiness, this was addressed at the workshop along with how to formulate each different kind. I have always been into writing but post the workshop I can structure and channelize this in a more comprehensive way. Perhaps, architectural writing will go on to become a huge part of my journey further in this profession.
It was a very interactive and well-curated workshop, especially for anyone looking to broaden their horizons in this field.Shreya Aneja
B.Arch, 3rd Year, SPAV
Of the three elective options we were offered in the seventh semester, architectural journalism was the obvious choice for me—firstly, I have always been inclined to writing, data gathering and research, and secondly, because the elective-cum-workshop was being held by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta. I had attended one of her talks during the Zonal NASA convention of 2016 where I was properly introduced to this field of architecture for the first time. My assignment was to interview an architect, or anyone involved in the field of architecture.
This was a very different and rather fun assignment to do, because I got to interview my design mentor and find out his opinions about topics outside of my academic curriculum. The flow of the workshop was smooth and was never monotonous as we were engaged and involved in the discussion throughout.
Through the workshop I understood and realised the scope of architectural journalism, the impact of a good piece of architectural journalism in propagation of the right kind of design ideologies and construction methods; and how it helps bringing to light the upcoming technological advancements in this field and becomes a medium through which there is an exchange of thoughts that help invoke fruitful discussions.Anusha Kamarshi
B.Arch, 4th Year,
BMS School of Architecture, Bengaluru
Architectural journalism is a new subject to us and it has been introduced from this semester onwards in our course. We were not familiar with this subject before the workshop conducted by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta. The workshop has proved very beneficial for us as it helped us understand what all the subject entails. We learnt about the different types of media of architectural journalism.
We got to know the format of different forms of writing, such as for journals, magazines, etc, besides which we learnt the art of writing and the presentation of any paper. We were also taught the elements which make a piece informative, analytical and presentable. The lecture opened to us the different genres in architectural writing and helped us understand the formats of project reviews, profiles, interviews, trends/ development, research-based papers, op-eds, etc.
The data and the art of writing the data is very important to develop communication between a piece and the reader. The workshop made us realize the importance of this data and the beauty of writing it.Ekta Bhardwaj, B.Arch, 4th Year, SUPVA, Rohtak
The architecture journalism workshop by Ar. Apurva Bose Dutta was informative and inspiring. We appreciate the insight that was provided, and the time she took following the session to provide continued interest for us. While the method of delivery was so easy to understand, the workshop provided us a medium to be able to identify the scope of work or a career option which we we would like to pursue after completing B.Arch.
We appreciate the way Ar. Apurva taught, presented and conducted the seminar by covering various architect reviews, magazine, blogs etc. It was relevant for us and it makes better visualization towards architecture journalism.
Thanks for making such a great workshop which inspires us to be more creative in this field also!Shalu Sirohi B.Arch, 4th Year, SUPVA, Rohtak