The changing face of Fine Arts and Architecture education overseas


In a rapidly and radically evolving world order, academic pedagogy across faculties of higher education must keep pace. Considering the direct impact of these institutes on the workforce of the future, universities are increasingly engaging with industry leaders to ensure their student graduates have the relevant skills that will set them apart in the 21st-century job market. The challenge before this young work brigade is not just in terms of competitive numbers or growth; it comes from dramatic changes in technology, climate change, sustainable commitments, demographical churning across nations, and most of all from the fact that the industry itself does not know what the careers of the coming few years will demand. Such is the pace of evolution today.

In this milieu of global transformation, an area of significant impact has been design-thinking in architectural careers and subsequently its academic associates. A profession that was largely led by aesthetic thought is today focusing on delivery systems in building design, turning architectural pedagogy based on imagery and allure redundant, and putting emphasis on curricula based on the integration of technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) with visually impactful design ideas.

The direct impact of these on-floor changes is felt by students opting for architectural studies and preparing to be a part of the workforce in 2020 and beyond. While a World Economic Forum (WEF) report states that over two million jobs will be created worldwide by 2020 in fields related to computers, Mathematics, Architecture, and Engineering, the fact remains that automation will play a large role in every field.

Shaping the next generation of architects

The advantage for students of architecture is that designing will always remain a human brain-dependent area. Moreover, the construction scenario across the globe is expected to remain on the ascendant for the next few decades. That said, students must adapt to newer work scenarios, where architects will be expected to take on work responsibilities beyond design. Implementation, business development, project management, material management – tomorrow’s architects must be master planners.

Schools like MIT that recognize the importance of integrating business thinking with design have programmes designed for the gen-next architects. They are encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit even as they direct thought towards solutions that respect the dignity of individual space while safeguarding a fragile planet.

Design and architectural planning in the years ahead bear a huge responsibility. The challenges of creating future relevant plans while maximizing resources for an upwardly mobile community of people needs intelligence, efficiency, and compassion. As Smart Cities define tomorrow’s skyline, education has to lead to solutions that reduce the impact on the earth and focus on sustainovation. For those passionate about building this new tomorrow, career options span from creating commercial and residential designs to urban planning and real-estate management and even teaching.

A fast-growing area for those exploring out-of-box thought is the video and gaming industry. Of course, a small number of students passionate about history and monuments find many opportunities in restoration-related avenues. As such, architecture is one of the rare programmes that offers students an opportunity to connect humanism with technology through creativity.

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition, currently underway in Venice, opens an amazing window to the expectations of tomorrow. Aptly titled “Freespace”, it celebrates the unique relationship that people share with a place and with the planet while encouraging ideas that ‘weave the archaic with the contemporary’ and possibly the future.

Gearing up for the transformation

An impressive line-up of universities from across the Americas and Europe accept students with a passion for architecture. However, the numbers for admits are very small, ranging from 55 to 70 in the top-rated universities. As such, students must prepare well, and well in time. Most universities will look for strong academic records through school years, ideally a creative portfolio, strong recommendation letters, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a written interview.

But what the students need to prepare most for is the rigorous schedules and the challenging project work that could either make or break their career prospects. Most universities encourage students to take up internships and apprenticeships. This practice gives students a strong edge in the job market even as it offers an opportunity for them to put theory into practice on a live project.

As the academic space of Design and Architecture reinvents itself, students stepping into the architectural and design programmes of tomorrow bear the responsibility to define tomorrow’s horizon.

Bakhtawar Krishnan is the Founder and Director of overseas education consultants Inspirus Education.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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