Architectural journalism may be a very niche field but nevertheless it has a dedicated readership. Dedicating her life to this vocation is Apurva Bose Dutta, a Bangalore-based architect who has been in this field for a decade. She has been working diligently to get the subject recognized in India through various efforts.
A Bengali, born and brought up in Chandigarh she completed her BArch in 2005 from Chandigarh College of Architecture, after which she plunged into architectural journalism and started working with a renowned architectural magazine, Architecture + Design. She also has a diploma in freelance journalism from UK.
Over the years through lectures, writing and as a mentor to many young students she has been promoting Architectural Journalism. HerStory spoke with Apurva to know more about her journey with architectural journalism:
During her final year of BArch, the idea of an elective in architectural journalism intrigued her and she took it up. “It was only after that I took it up I realised that the amount of fervour and passion with which I did my submissions for the subject compared to no other subject, that I started thinking about it as an option. But due to the ignorance of the field I did keep Restoration and Interior Designing as my other options, because I was sure architectural journalism didn’t have any openings.”
It was a time when Architects were writing but there were no ‘Architectural Journalists’ at that time. So it was even tougher for her to explain her choice of study and profession to people. “The architects though would be quite excited knowing that I was stepping into a field which was so well acclaimed overseas but not in India. But yes, whether it was back home or to non-architects, it was difficult explaining to them what I was doing.”
Apurva followed her heart, and things worked in her favour. Doors opened and she joined A+ D magazine.
“I have to admit, that if I hadn’t got such a strong foundation with the magazine, who knows I might not have had developed the will power to go further into this field.”
The subject is new but one that has been gaining a lot of popularity with architectural students throughout the world.
From Chandigarh and beyond
Both her parents were well educated and invested highly in their children. Apurva’s father, a surgeon hard pressed for time and a mother with a PhD. in Physics, went beyond, “’everything’ to make their daughters all-rounders and excel in all fields. My parents themselves were and are all-rounders, and ensured that my siblings and me also developed our passions and hobbies.”
Carmel Convent School, Chandigarh, her other family as she calls it, played an integral role in shaping her personality. “From one family, I was into another family where the faculty adored us, encouraged us and shaped us. I am still in touch with many of them today.”
After her marriage she had moved to UK but later moved to Bangalore and has been residing here, working as a freelancer and contributing to multiple national and international publications.
Always fascinated by her father’s profession, she too wanted to become a doctor like him. “I think the adulation dad received made me want to grow up into a doctor too.” After 10th, when the time to choose her field of choice came, her father one day sat her down and shared his hesitation in her wanting to join Medicine. “He knew what a tough life it was, and he knew that even with a mere MBBS degree, a doctor is not easily settled in his life. Hence, I took up Non-Medical, which led me to taking up Architecture.”
Writing was something that came easy to Apurva. She used to write extensively as a child but it remained a hobby. That hobby came in handy. Today Apurva has many accolades and awards in her kitty for her work in Architectural Journalism.
Architectural Journalism in India
According to Apurva, this field is growing. And, over the years the growth has been good and positive. Over the years she has heard from hundreds of students and even practising architects who want to get into it.
“As many as 11- 12 architectural colleges in India already have it as an elective, but yes, much needs to be done to regularise the curriculum, to bring in faculty who know the ‘subject’ and know what to teach. It cannot be just a ‘fashionable’ subject.”
By continuously writing about it, speaking on different occasions with an invested audience and by promoting it through other channels, Apurva has been doing her bit slowly and steadily.
She shares, “the subject has depth and only those who understand it, can teach it. I have been trying to talk with the Council of Architecture in India, and the other Architect’s bodies in India. They are encouraging and feel the need to take the subject to more students. But stringent measures need to be taken to make the field a mainstream subject.”
Advice for the interested
She says, “Anyone who chooses a field that has lesser visibility, needs to be surely passionate about the subject to be able to hold himself/herself when there are moments when the non-visibility might affect you. Apart from that, good communication skills (written as well as verbal), the need to take initiatives and network, a good exposure to world architecture, understanding how to interpret architecture, lots of reading, being aware and being attentive to what is happening around is important. Most importantly professional ethics counts. If you can’t be professional enough, don’t think of excelling!”
Print and Digital Media
According to Apurva, over the years there has been a rise in the number of architectural/interior/construction magazines in the country. And though Digital media is a good and instant way of connecting and reaching a wider group of people, but for her, Print Media still connects the way, digital media can’t. “There might be scores of reading to do on the digital media, but for me, even today a hard copy book registers much more than a kindle book.”
As regards her professional life, her passion for the subject, the huge sense of encouragement that has come from all quarters over the past many years keeps her going. “While all my awards and honour have brought me immense happiness and motivated to pursue my career with even more gusto, I think the closest to my heart has always been the appreciation that I have received from my near-and-dear ones.”