Is Architecture Dying

Architecture is not a dying profession. With over half of the world’s population living in urban areas, there’s more demand for urban planners, landscape architects, and architects than ever. In that order. We need livable spaces. We need to create value instead of just ticking the boxes. As in ‘meets the basic criteria for human life to survive here’.We need to plan cities with future technologies in mind. That means ridding ourselves of the tyranny of the private car and use of fossil fuels. We need environmental protection and control of urban sprawl as the population growth in cities explodes.

Take China for example. Cities have had to respond to the pollution problem because smog has already caused measurable health risks. I for one bloody refuse to live in a city where you have to wear a gas mask on your face. We need innovative plans for areas with sharply declining populations. In short, we need vision. Always have, always will. 

The late 19th-century idea of architecture, however, is dead and buried…

That was in essence when engineers designed the structure, e.g. a bridge, and architects designed the decorations for it. If you think this is what practicing architecture is today, I’m sorry but you’re way off. Hand-drawn illustrations and scale models are disappearing art forms. CAD drawings will become a thing of the past in the upcoming decades too. Building information modeling (BIM) however is alive and kicking. Planners of buildings and infrastructures have used 3D for quite some time now. Building sites are in the process of adopting 3D. For example, diggers can be programmed to excavate the site without drivers. Guess who has modeled the site plan?

Made sure all paths are accessible with the right width and incline, surface materials are optimal, that sufficient space for parking and other functions are provided, that stormwater is handled properly and that sufficient green space is provided. When you get indoors the amount of information in the model obviously multiplies.

Whole new job descriptions have been created with Building Information Modeling, such as a project model coordinator. Their duties overlap with those that used to belong to head designers. I don’t see this as a threat to architects. More like an opportunity for architects to expand. Up-to-date 3D models help in managing smart buildings and planning for renovations of all kinds of structures. There are plenty new frontiers in 3D for architects. I find interdisciplinary and experimental work more exciting than compiling your typical architecture drawings for major construction companies. Architects stay in demand by adapting to newest techniques and staying current. These days that often means a more engineer-like approach to spatial planning. The following bit is “ranty” but relevant, I believe.

Architects are constantly criticized for either not engineering enough or for not decorating enough. I personally get along with civil engineers just fine. There’s no ambiguity on where my responsibilities end and theirs start in a project, and we respect each other’s expertise. It seems more like a public issue: If I got a cent every time someone said modern architects are useless, I’d be a very rich woman! This while regularly working up to 15 hours a day, getting buried by emails and phone calls from building sites. I know there’s demand. The work just isn’t reimbursed very well considering. 

I currently work in engineering more than in architecture. I’ve found engineering way less stressful. This is in part due to architects getting so many emotional responses. Mostly from people who do not know the industry well but like to pretend that they do, and therefore parrot things they’ve heard. Have you noticed how it’s never ‘let’s discuss how we could develop modern architecture’ but rather counterproductive and often personal instead. Quora is often no different. Jeez.

If money is a priority to you, go for engineering. Or better yet, sales. Primary producers aren’t appreciated in general. The later you get involved in the building process the better. People who make money from money, often without adding much value at all, tend to be at the top of the food chain. It’s part of a much bigger problem that happens to apply to the construction industry too.

Open an Online Studio

and be the architect of the 21st century


Photo Credit: 

Source: Henriikka Keskinen

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