She grew up in picturesque Gangtok, day dreaming about creating beautiful structures which would stand tall before her, braving the chiaroscuro of sun and light. In her free time, she would observe her architect neighbour's nimble fingers sketching for hours on the drawing board. Maps, T scale, compass and precision tools were her friends.
Meet Debashree Pal, 25, an architect, working with Space Design Consultants in the Capital. A plot of land for her is the canvas onto which she pours her imagination, a drawing board which comes alive with a dream habitat for the less fortunate. She loves to design sustainable buildings that don't take kindly to high-end materials. Bamboo and sun dried bricks are her favourites. And her dream project is to construct a sustainable orphanage in a far- flung village.
Pal studied at the Tashi Nangyal Academy in Gangtok (one of its famous products being football player Baichung Bhutia). She took up science at the 10+2 level with chemistry, physics as her mains and geometrical and building drawing as her elective. As luck could have it, she topped the AIEEE in her state. That brought her to Delhi for the five-year B Arch programme at School of Planning and Architecture.
She did her internship at the Centre for Science and Technologies for Rural Development led by legendary architect Laurie Baker where she got a chance to work on a low-cost housing project in Tamil Nadu. She couldn't have asked for more!
Ask her about skill sets prospective architects should possess and pat comes the reply: They should excel in day dreaming. And the job? "An architect is the central figure for any construction project. H/she has to design a building keeping in mind the local ecology and keep an eye on aesthetics," she says, and goes on to add, "Every project is different. It's the variety that I love."
Agrees Vidur Bharadwaj, director of the 3C Company, "Architecture is more of a passion than a career. It's an individual's effort to create a balance between his dreams and reality." Adds Prof Neerja Tikku, Head, Department of Architecture, SPA, "It's a great career where you have great opportunities."
What's it about?
Architecture is the study which deals with planning and designing of building and structures. Architects are involved in designing a variety of structures such as houses, apartments and colonies, offices and industrial complexes, hospitals, hotels, airport terminals, stadia, shopping and commercial complexes, schools, etc. They provide professional services to individuals and organisations not only regarding new constructions but also for alterations and renovations. Further specialisation in the field can be in industrial design, urban design, landscape architecture, town planning, environmental planning, building engineering and transport planning, etc. These postgraduate courses are open to BArch degree/diploma holders
9.30 am: Reaches office using the car pool
11 am: Discusses status of a project
12 noon: At the drawing board, sketches out ideas
2 pm: On the computer; transfers paper sketches into the computer
5 pm: Discusses outcome with seniors, re-does sketches or be done with them
7 pm: Leaves for home if work is completed
Emoluments depend on the type of employment opportunity taken up. Private consultancy in architecture can fetch the highest returns. As a starter one can expect a salary of Rs 20,000 and in two-three years, about Rs 40,000
Understanding people's needs is at the core of the profession
An aspirant should be a creative artist with an interest and bent towards designing
Ability to sketch free hand plan - though not of utmost importance - is beneficial while explaining intricate details of the structure to clients
Awareness of social and environmental factors
Apart from being technically sound, good mathematical ability is important as the work involves complex designing problems and working out cost estimations.
Good communication skills; physical stamina to work on the desk and on site
How do i get there?
Anybody who has studied physics, mathematics and chemistry at the 10+2 level can apply for admission. BArch is a five-year programme and most schools and colleges select students through a written test. On completion of the Bachelor's programme, one can study architecture at the postgraduate level which varies from 18 months to two years.
Entrance test for BArch programmes: CBSE conducts a national-level entrance examination - All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) National Aptitude Test is conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Architecture (NIASA), Pune and the Academic Unit of the Council of Architecture (C0A)
Institutes & URLs
School of Planning and Architecture
CEPT University, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad
Sushant School of Art and Architecture
TVB School of Habitat Studies
Amity School of Architecture and Planning
The Bartlett (University College London, London)
Cooper Union School of Architecture (USA)
Sci-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture), USA
Pros & Cons
Allows you to stay young as every project is a new learning
Allows one to live dreams through designs
Get to travel a lot
Profession does not really allow for flexibility or part time work from home options
Not a regular nine-five job; takes over life in its entirety
Less remuneration than jobs in related fields