Sunday, January 30, 2011

Of architecture and jobs

The lack of architectural jobs, especially of ones own choice is a great matter of concern during recession. This was my experience while staying in Pakistan. I had been offered positions by two major institutes, owned by two experienced and might I mention ‘old’ architects who later backed out on their words. Here I will mention my interest which is research, documentation and on-field experience about local construction technologies.

The two institutes (for now I will not mention their names) are not just any organizations, they are prestigious ones, with their names on the international boards and donor groups. It was a disappointing experience for me, not only because I had respect for the two architects, but also because I respected the offices they run.

However, after my experience, I decided to delve into journalism and write on any topic under the moon, including urban and rural issues and architectural practices at Daily Times. During my work at the Daily Times I came across those two architects countless of times, and later on was even approached by them to cover their events to spread out their message. Where I found it was workable, I did. Where I thought it is only a gimmick to attract more donors, I did not.

Although, I try to retain my respect, I think there is a definitive need among the young architects of Pakistan to evolve for themselves a platform. It should be a place, where they can bring out their grievances against the old ones, and file complaints if any of their rights have been abused. This will give the new and upcoming architects more freedom to voice their concerns. Also, firms and organisations that have repeatedly violated the rights of any of the architects should be black listed, so the new ones know who they are dealing with.

Moreover, I feel there is a need for some major reforms in the curriculum at Art and Architecture schools. Students should not just be taught how to slog for the old ones (which may be difficult, cause most old sharks teach as well), but also be trained in case they want to venture out on their own. I remember during my student years, instead of being encouraged to be confident about my own work and choosing my own style, I was berated for challenging the norms. I felt architectural studies were too tyrannical. Instead of positive input, most input was negative especially about young students who tried to make on their own. Whether those loners succeeded or failed was a different thing. The old sharks probably did their utmost to bring ‘em down... or at least keep 'em under the heels....

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