Architectural Education in India – Views by Dr. Sridhar Rajan

Sridhar Rajan

Dr. Sridhar Rajan – B. Arch., IIT (1970-75), M. Arch., IIT, (1976-78), PhD, FIIA. Presently, Principal, MIDAS (TN34), on the East Coast Road, Tamilnadu, is a permanent resident of Bangalore and Fellow of the Indian Institute of Architects, Karnataka Chapter. Has served as Professor/HOD/Dean/Director/Principal of nearly eight Institutions across the country, with 40 years continuous teaching career combined with research and practice. A PhD in ‘Development Studies’, from the University of Mysore, he has received an award for “Outstanding contribution to Architectural Education”, from IIA, Karnataka Chapter, 2014.

Education & Human Progress are related:

“Obsolescence, lack of clarity and corruption of education, is a deterrent to actual human progress and development. Failure of the educational system is also one of the main reasons, for the rise of social disorder and finally collapse of society.” “Divergent approaches are required at all levels of education, to foster creativity and innovation. For this to happen in educational institutions, there must be an atmosphere of freedom, choice and a heuristic approach to self discovery and exploration.”


The need for divergent and heuristic approaches: Training for Life: Begins at School: The present primary, secondary and pre-university schooling is based to a large extent on memorizing, methods, formulas, algorithms and convenient, mechanical, easy paths of least resistance with minimum effort and finally leading to copy-paste, convergent approaches, identical or similar solutions and cloning. This approach has been followed in Engineering, Medicine and other scientific disciplines; but with increasing population and colleges, admissions to these disciplines are on the decline due to regimentation and lack of creativity. Students today, prefer to join courses promising and fostering freedom, excitement and divergent approaches. Candidates suitable for ‘Design Disciplines’ to be identified during secondary level: Present primary (three years: age 4-6), secondary (ten years: age 7-15) and pre university (two years: age 16-17) system in India are obsolete. The main task of the educator, at this level, is to identify the interests and passion in the child, for channelizing them at an early stage. The present schooling systems prevalent in India, renders the candidate unfit for the architecture discipline; though they may be appropriate for other disciplines having convergent approaches. These 15 years of schooling are very important, as they are formative years, which enable one to pick up the nuances and skills of the craft. Essentially, architecture belongs to the arts stream. Training in the arts, crafts and design professions, need to start early in life in an atmosphere of freedom, choice. The search for candidates with aptitude needs to be done at an early stage and it must be through merit and not through ‘money power’. Candidates who have no aptitude whatsoever and who are also lacking in English, the medium of instruction, are being admitted to architecture schools. These students after being admitted are somehow completing post graduation and becoming Teachers.

Obsolescence of NATA:

The present methods in place for testing aptitude for the architectural profession, through NATA, etc., are obsolete.

Training Centers for NATA:

Which are meaningless, are thriving, even though they have been discouraged by COA/NIASA. The proliferation of NATA Coaching Centers has made the testing more predictable and ridiculous.

One cannot be trained to have an ‘aptitude for architecture’ How can one train a person to develop ‘aptitude’? These prevalent tests have only become a means of screening out dumbos; but even the undeserving are getting in, apparently through fraudulent, amazing hi-tech ways adopted by some of these Centers.

The Meaning of ‘Aptitude for Architecture’ to be redefined:

There is a misconception about sketching, painting, handwriting and objective tests (selecting answers from alternatives), as essential skills and knowhow for identifying and evaluating aptitude for architecture. Meaning of aptitude for Architecture needs to be relooked with respect to decision making, analyzing, programming, visualizing, technical expertise, etc., along with the gradual acquiring of the skill of synthesis, coordination, management and execution.

Obsolete 43 year old Architect’s Act’72 needs to be amended:

The Architect’s Act’72 which governs the functioning of COA, the country’s apex statutory body for maintaining the minimum standards of architectural education, is obsolete. An Amendment to this Act, which is in the offing, needs to revamp the whole system.

Delinking B. Arch degree from Registration:

This system is already there in many of the developed countries and will lead to restructuring of 3+2 Bologna Model, to a 5 year degree in sync with any University’s divergent approach at the Bachelor’s level; after which the candidate may go for registration and practice or opt to specialize in one’s area of interest. Two semesters of Professional Training as prescribed by the COA, may be reduced to a semester or as one of the subjects, under the faculty supervision. It is unethical to treat trainees as employees, as prevalent in many unprofessional business offices. Due to the delinking, restructuring of the B. Arch 10 semesters scheme of subjects and examinations along with the syllabus contents will become possible as per the requirements of a ‘regional architecture university’.

Introduction of 2 year Apprenticeship to qualify for State wise Licensing Examinations:

As against immediate registration by COA, the candidate will require to work as an apprentice, in an architect’s office for a minimum period of two years, before becoming eligible for a Licensing examination. With the proliferation of Schools of Architecture from the JJ School of Art & Architecture, 1896 to ‘420 Schools’ in 2015, it has become furthermore necessary to delink the B. Arch degree from Registration, as they are all of different standards and belong to different eras and regions. Continuous Career Assessment of Architects to be in tune with local/global needs: This will ensure that Architects are at pace with current developments in society, materials and technology.

Heritage Schools, Schools of National Importance, Regional Schools, Technical Schools/Centers and others: There is a need to segregate schools, according to age, region, history, approach, direction, specialization, performance and importance.

Decentralization of COA into Regional/State Centers to cater to Regional Schools of Architecture:

Delinking the architect’s registration from the B. Arch degree, through region wise licensing examination systems, should be the first step; along with decentralization of COA into regional/state centers, complimentary to and in tandem with the state chapters of the IIA. These Centers will encourage architects, educators and students to cater to the societal needs of the region.

Introduction of State level independent ‘Architecture Universities:

The Vice Chancellor and other University officials need to be qualified Architects, who have a concern for their discipline. This will ensure proper syllabus revision as an ongoing process, to keep students abreast with ‘the state of the art’.

‘Schools of Architecture’ to be ‘Autonomous’ affiliated to ‘Architecture Universities’:

A ‘School’ implies autonomy. All ‘Schools of Architecture’ need to be ‘autonomous’ and have their own individualistic approach, meeting the demands of the region.


“A creative educator needs to be simple, honest, unbiased and fearless.” “The core purpose of education is to eradicate fear from the human mind.”

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