What pops into your head when you hear the words “architect” or “architecture”? Do you picture a lonely man who sits with a pencil behind his ear, drawing creative works of art all day? Or, perhaps you’re visualising a team of people working together to paint intricate designs on a building.
While these misconceptions may have slipped into your mind, they aren’t exactly the best representation of the field of architecture. Yes, that’s right! There’s so much more to architecture than most people think, so we’re here to clarify some of the common myths you’ve probably heard of. Read on to uncover the truth!
#1. Architects need to be exceptional in drawing
Firstly, there’s no doubt architecture students will spend a huge amount of time drawing during their time studying architecture. But this doesn’t mean your ability to draw has to be god-like in order to be accepted into architecture school. You can still be an architect even if you don’t identify as a talented artist.
Don’t get us wrong, you’ll still need to be able to sketch simple drawings. However, your drawing isn’t meant to be a work of art; its objective is to communicate your ideas to others. Therefore, good spatial perception (the ability to understand how different objects and spaces relate to one another) is vital.
Moreover, today’s architects use computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as AutoCAD, to create realistic 2D and 3D images that will better showcase proposed concepts to clients.
#2. Architecture is an arts degree
If you believe that architecture is either arts or science, then you’re half correct and half incorrect. Although architects have to draw a lot, the field actually entails both arts and science applications.
In order to build a great structure, it not only has to be aesthetically pleasing and creative, but also feasible, functional, economical and safe. This is where science and engineering come into play. Architects need to balance their creativity with real-world constraints and materials that may make it hard for elaborate architectural designs to come to life.
Couple that with financial restrictions and regulatory authorities breathing down their neck and you’ll find that architects aren’t just building artists. While they can create powerful and awe-inspiring structures, they also have to be grounded in reality and comply with engineering principles to meet functional, economical and safety requirements.
As the famous American architect, Louis Kahn once said, “An artist can make a cart with square wheels, but an architect can’t.”
#3. Architects build buildings like civil engineers
Although architects and engineers may work together to construct a building or structure, they don’t have the same roles. Architects are responsible for coming up with the creative design of a structure whereas engineers are the executors of the design. An engineer will use an architect’s blueprints to bring the design to life using scientific and mathematical principles.
In order to produce a well-developed structure that is safe, functional and stable, both architect and engineer must work in a symbiotic relationship. This means that architects don’t leave a project once they have completed the blueprint; they stay on to oversee construction and make sure their design is translated accurately by the engineer.
For example, the Argentine architect who designed the Petronas Twin Towers would have had to make regular site visits to ensure that the engineers were able to pull off his ambitious design and that the construction workers didn’t miss important details like the repetitive geometries inspired by Islamic architecture.
#4. Architects work alone
If you’re thinking of plunging into this field because of the misconstrued perception that an architect works alone drawing in an office the whole day, then you might want to reconsider your decision.
As an architect, not only will you need to present your ideas to clients, but you’ll also need to communicate the finalised concept to everyone else who is working on the same project (e.g. contractors, builders, engineers). As such, you’ll need to have confidence as well as excellent communication skills to ensure everyone is on the same page.
#5. Architecture is only for men
Is the idea of architecture being heavily dominated by men scaring you away? Well, it shouldn’t. Although on the surface it may seem like it’s a man’s world, what with the depiction of male architects in the media, just like other professions, your gender should not defy your interest in the field.
If you’re still in doubt, let the story of Datuk Tan Pei Ling inspire you. Known as the Iron Lady of Architecture in Malaysia, she was the first female President of the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) in 2001 and Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA) from 2012 – 2013. In fact, recently, there are more women who are playing bigger roles in the property industry.
So don’t be afraid to follow your dreams and reach for the stars, regardless of your gender!
Now that you have an untainted view of the architecture industry, we hope this helps you make a more informed decision about studying architecture. Should you have more queries, leave a message with our education counsellors and we’ll be glad to help you out!