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The brewing crisis in architecture

January 31, 2015

1. Too many colleges (over 300 in India)

This means that there are or will soon be many young professionals looking for too few jobs. It is often said that half of the architects in India would not be running their practices if they found a good job. Many colleges are not able to find good teachers. Senior practicing architects don’t find it worth the while to teach if they are not paid well, as is the case in many private colleges. And most colleges are not able to do enough to attract them for various reasons. Hence a lot of recent graduates and post graduates join teaching. But architecture being a building profession, experience of building gives a perspective – missing at quite a few places. As so many graduates join their Alma Mater, in-breeding will happen, marring the health of an academic institution as far as new ideas are concerned.

2. Going to college is not sufficient

Not enough skills are transmitted at college level to hit the road running. This is a problem at majority of university level institutions in India. So when graduates come out with high expectations, they can’t meet the demands of the market, and find it very frustrating to go through the two years of learning that makes them ready. Even more so if they are post graduates. The employers themselves have very high expectations from architects, where who don’t know enough are competing with those who do.

3. Not enough buildings going on

Rather, not enough buildings where an architect’s role is clearly understood are happening. Clients are either smart and know a lot, or don’t know what to expect. Government, the biggest builder, has no capacity to hire architects or get work done professionally.

4. Low fees because of the fierce competition

Not enough money for the practitioners, and so often not enough money for the employees. So, a life of insecurity or drudgery for the best years of an architect. Or, architects moving to design-build, or to compromise by charging the contractors what the client doesn’t pay. Or to bribe their way into getting many a corporate or public projects. In the vicious circle where one ought to have done a project to get a project, the quoted fees are going lower and lower.

5. Clients are often incapable of distinguishing between one architect and another

Procurement of services, even architectural, is still a field largely played by engineers, and many with a 40 year old training. Often architects are unable or unwilling to understand the problems faced by a client due to the gaps between various professions. Although this is changing fast, many clients still end up hiring the wrong person or getting the wrong product.

6. Not enough support from construction professionals

Civil engineers, good ones, are in high demand. And there is a reason for it. Sadly, there aren’t enough of them around. At least to build buildings.

More later. Will update and add.

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