Visakhapatnam, as Andhra Pradesh has only 12 schools, they should be increased, CoA president Uday Gadkari tells G.V. Prasada Sarma - The Hindu

There has been an exponential increase in construction activity across the country and in Andhra Pradesh. But still there appears to be paucity of architects and problems in discharging their responsibilities fulfilling the role assigned to them. The demand for architects is also growing to meet which more schools of architecture need to be opened. Council of Architecture is a statutory body created by an act of Parliament to oversee architecture schools and the discharge of duties by architects. CoA president Uday Gadkari who was in the city recently spoke to The Hindu on a gamut of issues relating to architectural education, opening more schools, giving due importance to architects and the need for better urban planning particularly in the light of the Chennai deluge. The following are excerpts:

Building design is a specialised training imparted through schools of architecture, says Uday Gadkari, president of Council of Architecture.
Building design is a specialised training imparted through schools of architecture, says Uday Gadkari, president of Council of Architecture.

Q: What is the role of architecture in society? We should take pride in being one of the oldest civilisations the credit for which should go to architectural aspects. But do we have enough professionals? The number of institutions in Andhra Pradesh is very less compared to the other States.

Answer: This has been a subject of debate and controversy. Because of our own professional colleagues raise a hue and cry over mushrooming of architectural schools. The number has grown significantly over the last 10, 12 years. From 150 schools 10 years back it rose to 421 now. Every year the number of aspirants for opening new schools is increasing. Last year there were 105 applications for new schools. This year by the cut-off date the number is 60. The question is whether mushrooming is desirable. There is no standard quantification on the number of architectural professionals. But every family needs to be guided into the art of designing housing by architects. Besides, there are a large number of other types of buildings like commercial, institutional, entertainment, sports, hospitality and research areas where architectural scientists are required for rainwater harvesting, energy efficient buildings. With the advent of technology we need architects who are techno-savvy or technically very sound. There is a range of specialisations in which one can go.

Q. What is the number of architects now in the country and their absorption?

A. At present there are 80,000 architects registered with the CoA. Besides there are three lakh studying architecture and 30,000 to 40,000 new architects are going to join the profession every year from now onwards. The architects coming out are being absorbed depending on their level of ability. Some are carrying out research in vernacular (traditional) architecture and smart and intelligent buildings. Though the number seems to be increasing it is being absorbed into various fields.

Q. There appears to be an unequal distribution of schools of architecture. What is the reason?

A. It depends on awareness and the lead the respective States take. Maharashtra has 72 and Tamil Nadu 70 plus. Kerala, though a small state has 30 schools.

The undivided Andhra Pradesh has only some 12 schools. The number has to increase. I expect more schools to come up here. It has to take the lead and there is enough potential and people with potential.

Q. What are the criteria to approve schools?

A. We stipulate minimum norms with minimum datum line. Last year out of 106 only 56 were cleared. This year 60 applications have been received. After inspection, it will go to scrutiny committee and finally come the CoA. Our idea is not to discourage new schools. On the contrary we encourage. Schools that have minimum datum line and go beyond them are welcome. With its plans smart cities, Andhra Pradesh has to take the lead. It needs a dozen more.

The biggest difficulty in running the schools is having technical manpower and faculty. Students join the course to become architects. Coming to teaching is not by choice but compulsion. As the number of schools increase we need more teachers. I wish there is more trained teaching manpower. The council is making all out efforts towards that end.

Q. Is the council taking any particular steps to improve the number of teachers?

A. Council has an academic unit, National Institute of Advanced Studies in Architecture (NIASA). It holds programmes for generation of teaching manpower like early induction programme for fresh graduates to become teachers. For those who have already joined teacher training programme to improve the quality. For old teachers to familiarise with new technologies, inventions, regulations and laws we have continuing education programme. Every year 30 pan-India programmes are conducted.

Q. How many students are taking to teaching?

A. Teaching is very satisfying and these days the salaries and incentives are good. GITAM University has recruited young and talented teachers. President of the university M.V.V.S. Murthy wants the faculty also to go abroad as the world is the laboratory for architecture.

When we talk about smart cities, there are hardly any Indian architects in designing. We are inviting foreign architects and firms. They have inputs in terms of energy efficiency, waste management, garbage disposal, traffic and transportation, digital media and mastered by foreign architects.

The subjects will now be included in the model syllabus which schools and universities will have to follow.

The redundant subjects or chapters will be done away with to introduce relevant subjects.