Addressing diversity in architecture education

Apart from including knowledge of traditional architecture, institutions must also encourage students and faculty from diverse backgrounds to enhance the field

September 30, 2023 02:51 pm | Updated October 02, 2023 09:34 am IST

By redefining the notion of diversity in architectural education, we open the doors to a wealth of untapped potential.

By redefining the notion of diversity in architectural education, we open the doors to a wealth of untapped potential. | Photo Credit: Freepik

Architecture is a combination of arts and science of the built environment. Architectural education is undergoing a paradigm shift that celebrates the vibrant tapestry of human diversity. By redefining the notion of diversity in architectural education, we open the doors to a wealth of untapped potential, nurturing a generation of architects whose innovative designs will shape spaces that resonate with people from all walks of life.

Student representation

Architecture as a course is extremely complex and demanding. Unlike the other branches of engineering, this course cannot be standardised, as the design is subjective and specific to the context and client and there are many variables like aesthetics, functional requirement, and environmental condition. It is important to include and encourage students from diverse backgrounds to join this domain as this will contribute to the richness of cultural exposure and experience.

Architecture students must be exposed to the architectural traditions of various countries and within India. Creativity, analysis and innovation, all of which are cornerstones of architecture, can become better when students are exposed to diverse cultural backgrounds. Architecture departments are increasingly zeroing in on strategies including diverse faculty and offering scholarships to talented underrepresented students. Finding a mentor who shares a similar identity helps convince a student to enrol in the course. By forging strategic alliances with high schools and professional networks, architecture programmes can reach out to aspiring architects from all walks of life. Architecture colleges should also make an effort to create a series of workshops to reach out to high school or higher secondary students about the course and career options. A kaleidoscope of scholarships and financial aid programmes can help dissolve the formidable barriers that often impede underrepresented students.

Curriculum and pedagogy

While cross-cultural understanding, interdisciplinary collaborations, and the use of technological advances such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality must be incorporated into curriculum development, students must also be exposed to practising architect as visiting faculty. This will give them practical knowledge experience of the realities of budgeting and building regulations. Underrepresented students can also be offered jobs in architecture and interior firms during their course. A dialogue between professional organisations and practitioner and students will also help nurture a vibrant ecosystem of innovation and kindle the creativity of aspiring architects.

The writer is the Principal Architect and Founder of De Panache.

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