Architecture is one of the most interesting courses or professions to consider while making a decision on a career path. It is a profession of designing, planning, drawing, construction and supervision of construction works. In addition to drawing of building plans and construction supervision, they also include design or selection of furnishings and decorations, remodelling of existing buildings and constructions.
Over time, there has been a series of advancements and modifications done in this field, ranging from the use of artistic pen and drawing boards with a specific type of paper for sketching out building plans and all. As technology began to advance, more advanced and easier ways were employed to perform their operations such as the use of computer software like AutoCAD.
Architecture as known traditionally seems somewhat related to the modern form of it; modern architecture refers to design inspired by the historical art movement of modernism. It is a very common mistake among many people as they consider modern architecture the same as contemporary architecture. In the real sense, modern and contemporary do not exactly mean the same in architecture.
Modern architecture came into existence during the early and mid-20th century when a radical transformation was experienced in the construction and landscape of American buildings, far more exceeding what it used to be in the olden days. This era was considered the beginning of modern architecture as more houses took a new form and look as against the traditional styles. As time goes by, architects were of the opinion that modern buildings are way too chilly and weather inconsiderate.
The adverse sides of weather were too intense on the occupant and hence, the need for modification surfaced. Modification over the ancient modern styles of a building is what is now known as contemporary architecture -especially concerned with energy efficiency and sustainable materials, which has led to some truly innovative design.
Contrary to the primary purpose of architectural building of providing shelter, human saw the need to have a personal building as a necessity and pushing the demand for an architect to a higher level.
Here are some of the things that you probably do not know about the profession:
- Architecture was once Olympic sport: during the first four decades of the modern Olympic Games, 151 medals were awarded for music, painting, sculpture, literature, and architecture. Architecture was considered one of the categories deserving a medal.
- Open to criticism: architecture education is all about ‘criticizing’ your work, as a professional architect, you will have to soak in criticism of all kinds and work on how to improve on it.
- As an architectural student, you sketch more: it is believed that writing only helps with clarity, but a lot more is expected in drawings and sketches than in writing.
- Postures and backaches: it is not new to get complains of backaches from architects as they sit down almost all day trying to sketch out different plans.
- The profession is not as rewarding as thought: it would be delusional to think there is a lot of pay to earn after graduating, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to become well paid.
- Tough modules: there are a lot of readings and concepts that must be well understood, however having the theoretical background is not enough, and a lot still has to be done to apply them.
- Data back-up is as important as health: it is very crucial to have a good back-up for every data used in architecture including the sketch drawn on a piece of paper.
- The cooper union foundation building in New York City included an elevator shaft, even though modern elevators hadn’t been invented yet.
- Frank Lloyd wright’s son invented Lincoln logs: Son of the legendary architect discovered Lincoln logs which were inspired by interlocking beams of the foundation below Lloyd wright senior’s imperial hotel in Tokyo.
- Girih tiles used by Islamic architects for hundreds of years are mathematically similar to Penrose tiling.
Why Do We Need Architects?
As elementary as building construction may appear to artisans and masons, one may be tempted to bypass professionals who are well trained in building constructions. Contrary to this, architects are very crucial in constructions as they play important roles. Architects oversee the visual appearance of the buildings and structures before the final structural design. They are very creative and present their innovative design in an aesthetic manner. The architect designs the edifice in a suiting manner to the client; the building is constructed with creativity and artistic elements.
Here are the roles of an architect in the construction of a building:
- Project Discussion: before setting out for the job, architects need to meet with other professionals who will be working on the project to discuss a few things about the project such as the project design before final approval, technical difficulties they are likely to come across based on the land terrain, opinions and economic implication of the building and the raw materials needed.
- Drawing of building plans: before any construction can be done, the architect sketched out the design expected and presents an aesthetic view of the whole project. Architect submits the building plan early enough to avoid any form of delay or errors during construction. Architect partners with civil engineers in the construction of the building in agreement with the client’s request.
- Cost estimation based on the proposed plan: architect communicates with the client the cost implications of the project while providing detailed information about the budget for every stage of the construction work. The cost analysis is given by the architect before the construction work starts to help the client in planning out the budget needed for the project so as not to run out of budget while the construction is ongoing. An architect takes a cursory look at the building while in construction and comes up with new innovations and designs that could make the building stand out. However, this can only be achieved with the incorporation of other skilled professionals.
- Issues out contract: after proper estimation of cost and funds needed for the project, an architect divides up the work into different segments and employs the role of each contractor to each segment of the work. They employ the activities of labourers and other professionals needed for the construction by giving out the tasks as contracts. They specify the exact type of materials and people needed to work on the construction sites. Architects coordinate the construction activity as per the standard codes and regulations.
- Marketing of building for commercial purpose: aside from the construction work, architects also venture into the commercialization of their work to potential buyers or lenders. They issue a certificate to show that construction has been done the right way as agreed with the client before construction.
- Future maintenance of construction and building: architects present owner’s manual after the construction for future reconstruction or possible maintenance of the building. In some cases, the architect signs agreement for future maintenance and reconstruction of the building.
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Challenges Faced By Architects
Just like every other construction work, architects are also faced with a couple of challenges that threaten to affect their operations. The big task leading to the successful delivery of a project means they will face obstacles along the way, so how they avoid, react to and overcome these is a crucial part of success or failure. Here are some of the challenges faced by architects:
- Risk of the wrong estimation of dimensions and costs: given that building plans have to draw with such a high level of precision, despite that, the task of getting the right dimensions and measurements on paper for the proper estimation of quantities and materials could be really challenging as mistakes are almost inevitable. In essence, even the slightest mistake adds to the cost analysis and precision.
- Document management: this is another manage constraint experienced by architects as there is a need to keep all documents used during the construction for other purposes or even future consultation. On the difficult side, getting all these documents intact when needed maybe really challenging as some of the documents maybe with some other stakeholders.
- The difficulty of communicating new ideas and revisions to others: while construction is ongoing, there may need to revise or communicate new ideas as regards the construction work. In some extreme cases, it may be difficult to get the information across early enough or easily to other stakeholders causing them to work with the old plans. Since the construction cannot be done in isolation, there is an obvious need for collaboration and communication among the workers, however, communication and effective coordination of people and different sectors of construction work is not exactly an easy task. Some workers may not be well updated or equipped with the knowledge to adapt to new models and ideas, while some may not get the update as soon as required.
- Proper supervision and physical inspection of ongoing projects: as an architect, there is hardly any time to stay away too far from the ongoing project. It is very crucial to stay around and inspect the progress of the work and ensure that the work is being carried out in line with the standard and regulatory requirements being put in place.
The role of an architect seems somewhat related to that of a structural engineer but there is a clear distinction in their roles. An architect is predominantly involved in the overall look and the aesthetics of the building while structural engineer focuses on the construction type and durability of the building