Architectural design competitions are a level playing field for students registered for Bachelor of Architecture across the various architectural schools and colleges. These could be at a small scale – city, state, national and/or  international level.

My claim for calling these a level playing field comes from an experience of being associated within an architectural school as a full time faculty and as an external juror for schools in Mumbai. The prescribed syllabus as per the authorities is a list of learning outcomes for each semester, however the topics and the complexity of the design brief is left to respective schools to align to their respective ideologies and vision. In addition these briefs are designed to cater to the average of the given class for the academic purpose. I would definitely not align to a set standard but rather the outcomes from these design briefs and the way they prepare one for the following semesters have been given the impetus. Architectural design briefs necessarily need to be aligned with the way forward in Design Dissertation for Bachelor of Architecture – for it shapes the students to ask appropriate questions and provide solutions to these pertinent questions of a region, community, belief and/or an event.

Thus, these competitions become a good comparison for the skill sets among the students of architecture across a larger pool. In addition these are modelled to the topics which would entice the participants to explore and experiment. The duration and expectation of these competitions are fast paced and concise with a requirement – with more of an conceptual ideation represented of one or maximum two sheets, to be submitted online. These competitions also allow for recognition at a larger scale since most of them use social media for promotions and propagation of the events. The logistics vis-a-vis the probable recognition lures many students to explore the idea of participating in such global competitions. It also becomes a value addition for students seeking admissions for postgraduate studies and/or applying to architectural firms of repute and recognition in the world.

On the other hand, hosting a competition is an equally challenging affair – for the schedule needs to align with the academic schedule and other established events in a calendar year and availability of the jurors. The former being an important and a decisive factor for a new competition while the latter i.e, the name and reputation of the juror, a catalyst for the popularity among the students. I have been associated with one such organisation, reputed for challenging briefs and the popularity among the students, as role of assessing and shortlisting top 100 from the entries received. Through this process the variation in the school of thought and the brief interpretation allow for a competitive and contrasting comparison across the participants. Further the impetus is given to the graphical representation and clarity of the solution, an effective skill set bridging the gap between the academics and profession.

Moreover when it comes to evaluation of an architecture student – the portfolio is a defining factor where the individual decides the attributes of the skillsets mastered over the 5 years of school. It is here that one portrays the array of opportunities – and in my opinion, the potential employers and or evaluating authorities for further studies do look for participation in global competition and ability to work in a team. As mentioned earlier the academic briefs are designed keeping in mind the average potential among the pool of students, whereas the competition briefs have an advantage to aim for more complex, futuristic and large scale projects. Thus, as a conclusion I would reiterate the need to go beyond academics irrespective of your proficiency and participate in as many competitions that come your way.

-Anuj Gudekar

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