Postcard from... Boston Education

Dreams to reality

A design competition lead to a fully-funded design programme for Tanay.

As a teenager, I promised myself to achieve two life goals before I turned 23; the first was to make it to the Harvard University and the second was to make a noteworthy contribution that would positively impact lives around the world. I could not have possibly foreseen then, that either of these would come true through a design contest.

I won the Nippon Paint Asia’s Young Designer Award earlier this year, beating 9000 students across 15 countries. The cherry on the cake, for me, was the lifetime opportunity it bought along — a fully-funded six-weeks long Design Discovery programme at the Harvard University, Boston.

Before we reached the university, our faculty had briefed us about the course and explained the respective modules. I could not believe that this prestigious institution, which has the reputation for being the hardest college to gain acceptance in the U.S., had opened its doors for me. I welcomed this opportunity as a chance to immerse myself with candidates of equal and greater talent.

What impresses me about Harvard University is its infrastructure, the course modules, and the hospitality of its residents. The buildings in and around the campus were designed by legendary architects such as Walter Gropius, Renzo Piano, Le Corbusier and Moshie Safdie — the same luminaries whose works I have only learnt in classes.

Holistic training

My fellow course-mates are from across the world and are between 18-50 years. Being a part of this diverse demography, gives a rare opportunity to explore and learn different perspectives in designing. As part of my course, we study modules such as architectural drawings, principles of spatial design, architectural language, programmatic approaches and abstraction. We are also graded on several group and individual design projects.

I had the chance to design a unique civic centre project, which gave me rare insights from design experts from the western world. It was a great learning experience. Such challenging industry assignments give us a chance to explore and research, apart from preparing us for what the global market expects.

This programme allows me to go back to basics and learn with a fresh perspective. Our faculty constantly introduces us to the styles and approaches of various artists and architects. Precedents from our sessions and over-the-desk reviews inspire us to push ourselves beyond our designing capabilities. We are always encouraged to connect with various architects and students from different disciplines, which ensures a holistic training approach.

I am enjoying my time at Harvard and most importantly, I get to live a complete design experience. When I do have the time off during weekends, I cycle my way around the city, exploring and photographing new neighbourhoods. Massachusetts with its extraordinary array of choices, can appeal to any visitor.

I am glad my journey landed me here and in retrospect, my only message to fellow students would be to seize every opportunity that comes their way — even if it is something as simple as applying for a design contest. Sometimes you never know, all it takes to open doors is the belief in your talent and your willingness to nurture it.

Tanay Narendra Bothara is studying Design Discovery programme at Harvard University, Boston, the U.S.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:06:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/dreams-to-reality/article28805443.ece

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