Sunday 13th December 2020

What is the true role of an Architect?

The journey begins at school. You are expected to show efficiency in...

What is the true role of an Architect?

by Dimple Shah, Architectural Assistant at PRP

The journey begins at school. You are expected to show efficiency in maths, physics and some sort of design related subject when applying to study architecture at university. However, architecture is not constrained to these three subjects. When you join you learn about how the sun moves, effects of gravity on structures, how to present ideas without faltering, expressing your feelings without shaking, and somewhere in-between that, you experience a sort of awakening.

You come to a point where architecture becomes the centre of your universe, not because of your undeniable love for it, but the realisation that it expands into absolutely everything known to you and unknown to you. Architects essentially have the power to influence human behaviour, modify moods, perceptions and actions that we take from the moment we wake up. The physical barriers built within our homes define the way we interact with our parents, children or guests and it thickens as we move further away – potentially severing the connections with our neighbours and the wider community, or enhancing them if we are aware of the positive impact it can make. As a Part III student and architectural assistant at PRP, I continue to explore elements surrounding the field to enhance my understanding of the world we live in.

I began to explore anthropology, for without culture and communities, what differentiates architecture from one country to another? I delved into coding - for knowing how to decode nature enables you to learn from the best architect - nature itself. I found myself learning about the history of religion - it divides the world yet brings us together, instils happiness, creates fear and provides hope. Without exploring outside our beliefs, how can we truly design a place of worship in a home or a community centre? And finally, psychology - studying this allows us to predict what our clients want and how they will use the building before it is even built.

Psychology continued to emphasise its importance during the pandemic. During which I started recording my thoughts – both negative and positive. Through sketches and writing I began to explore our future needs in a post-covid situation. My notes included the perspectives from friends and families from various professional backgrounds, who enlightened my thoughts of the inability to mentally and physically disconnect from work. This spearheaded my ideas. When PRP announced the launch of the ‘Beyond-19’ internal design competition on post-covid living, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I set pen to paper to turn my thoughts into reality.

The plan above rethinks the way we live to accommodate the ‘new-norm’ we are now all accustomed to - home work-living. Comfortable study spaces are essential for working productively, but the mental and physical disconnect from work related spaces is key too. Using 76m2 for a 2B4P apartment, this layout seeks to adapt existing apartments through the use of sliding walls. The action of physically closing away work spaces that automatically reveals social spaces, acts as a catalyst for the mind to do the same subconsciously. 

This essentially exploits the concept of multi-use spaces, ‘revealing spaces within spaces’. Having understood the importance of mental wellbeing with the help of others, the concept inevitably looked further than the requirements of just ‘being’. Dissecting, analysing and decoding the needs of others outside of yourself, allows you to predict how spaces can be used. This in essence, is my interpretation of the true role of an architect and what I intend to continue to develop at PRP.

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