The pedagogy has transformed a lot in the last 30 years. Connecting students with the world, or with professionals, is probably not as hard a job now, as it was for professors of current practitioners.
Most of this transformation, that we relish today, can be attributed to the internet. It has brought the world closer, and has made business to business and business to customer interaction smoother. Big ideas are exchanged across the planet in milliseconds, through Video Conferencing, Skype, the disruptive WhatsApp, or even Instagram – all of these help us analyse problems, find solutions, build tools and policies.
However, there are certain fundamental logics that are a part of architectural education, which to say the least, are incorrect, and often misleading to the profession as a whole. These are the things that we as practitioners today have realized, and want to convey to architecture and design students, with a message of alignment.
One of the key arguments that students have to face in the jury is ‘cost evaluation’. It is a debate, that perhaps, every student dreads the most; and is destructive in shaping the thought process of students.
Realizing that cost is one of the fundamental aspects of design process in practice, methods of evaluating and bringing down costs vary within each practice. Students, therefore, lack the tools, expertise, and experience, to carry out such a task and debate on it. This proves detrimental to building ideas and concepts, and narrows the scope of one’s creative produce over the years.
Cost is a numerical factor that although important, matters only if it offers value. The reason why construction is expensive is because it is one of the most pressing needs that defines all biological life. It is important in shaping individuals and societies, thus, the quality of architecture dictates the quality of culture.
Students, therefore, must realise that every design, and space, must have something to offer- to touch human life, and add value to the people who inhabit that space. Considering, that it adds more to the cost, if the value received in return seems imperative in the growth of its users, then it must be included and duly executed to the last detail.
Architecturally, let us say that an apartment costs Rs.3 Crore. It is a hollow statement when read in isolation. If we add that the same apartment faces Marine Drive, and in the second instance, we mention that it is based in Manesar – then the value received on a purchase of Rs.3 Crore is drastically different in the two conditions, if both the apartments are identical.
COST is a lost, lonely fellow if it stands alone. It only makes sense when someone evaluates its value with respect to what it is supposed to achieve. A large flat, a well located flat, a bachelor pad, all have varying costs, but can be of same value. Of course architects have to spend on materials, but it is not the case in every situation. Efficiency, affordability, and durability, are also certain factors one must take into consideration to balance their decisions, on social and environmental ethics – ‘to add value to the idea of bringing down costs, rather carbon emissions, in the long run.’
The subject of Value Engineering puts this “optimization” in an analytical form, where design processes approach the problem from the other way- If there is a budget of INR 100/- to do something, how much can be achieved out of it?
It is surprising how much we unconsciously understand value and many a times, we simply end up debating cost. So we advise students to not think cost, but always think Value, i.e. what are you getting for the cost, and is it worth it?
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