School of Architecture and Design

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Best Practices 

1 – Awareness of Avenues in Architecture 

1.2. Objectives of the Practice 

The objectives of this practice are to create awareness… 

among students about the various avenues of architecture. 

about architecture in the community around us. 

that architecture practices can contribute to social causes. 

1.3. The Context: 

Architecture is a part and parcel of our everyday life because we need shelters. However, the shelter  may or may not be designed by an architect. Many living beings design their own shelter. Humans have  designed their dwelling which was a result of trials and errors of over a thousand years. Architecture  has evolved and today we have structures that are skyrocketing and aiming to be built on other planets.  After a continuous dialogue with all stakeholders of the institute, we realised that students need to be  made aware of the diverse nature of architecture. We also realised the need to raise this awareness  among the locals and learn from the unique surroundings that we are placed in. Students and faculty  must realise that architecture may not necessarily be for serving the elite and wealthy but also for  serving the community. This practice aligns with our goal of inculcating value-laden education. 

1.4. The Practice: 

A three-way model is developed for implementing this practice. One where the institute goes ahead  and connects with the outside world and second where we invite various professionals to the campus. In the first model, we conduct sessions in schools of neighbouring villages where we introduce school  students and teachers to the profession of architecture and the professional avenues available after  this course. We also conduct mobile exhibitions and connect with higher secondary school students in  urban areas. 

In the second model, we facilitate the industry-academia tie-up and conduct seminars and workshops  where professionals are invited to share their projects, way of working and ideologies with our  students. These too are in various modes. The most frequent are the ‘Weekly Forums’, which motivate  and inspire the students. 

We have sessions on Caricatures, IPR, Psychology of the Built Environment, Structural Systems  informing Design, the Role of an Architect, etc. Every semester a larger seminar is conducted that  coincides with the Foundation Day and Exhibition inauguration. 

At periodic intervals, we conduct a major event like ARCASIA or a Workshop with COA where students  get a wider exposure. 

We have collaborated with various organisations like Ethos and Maharashtra Step Wells Campaign and  ongoing research on energy audits, RESIDE. Live projects coming through them motivate students to  do good meaningful work. Students are also encouraged to be involved in research and live projects  undertaken by the School and the faculty individually. 

They are given due credits in the respective subjects. The institute encourages students to conduct  research that helps them connect to topics of their interest. They may range from, learning through  immediate surroundings/ community to hi-tech structural systems or project management. E.g.: The  architectural character of the Village houses or the Cultural Geography of the heritage structures. This  kind of grounded approach helps our students to stay humble, create empathy and become aware of  one’s surroundings, and that of various cultures and people. It helps them realise that architecture is  not all glitz and glamour. it also has a humane and mundane element. Exposure to this wide nature is  essential in our country where we have only 5% of people who commission architects to build for  them, 67% who stay in villages and build for themselves and others who cannot even afford their 

services. During the pandemic-induced Lockdown, we quickly adapted to the online version and  invited a diverse range of speakers from across the country. Our College Instagram Channel quickly  became popular for its uniquely refreshing and informative content. 

1.5. Evidence of Success 

Students love hands-on learning. We noticed students were motivated and enthusiastic after the  lockdown-induced lethargy. They realised the need to put in the effort to succeed and that each one  of them can carve a niche for themselves instead of treading on the beaten path. Credit-based learning  for engaging in live projects encourages deserving students to get involved in diverse topics. A healthy  competition is induced wherein the students on their own accord get involved in live projects or  documentation work. We may not be able to quantify this kind of tacit learning but what we observe  is the students’ positivity and their sense of belief in our institute and faculty. 

1.6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required: 

The following problems were faced. 

  1. Identifying the schools and colleges in the surrounding areas and establishing a rapport with them.  Our librarian, Mr. Sagar Bhoite played a leading role in this effort. He enthusiastically connected with  the schools and also went ahead to impart exposure to architecture assisting other teaching faculty in  the endeavour. 
  2. Sourcing the professionals each week was another issue; so, we planned alternate weeks of guest  lectures and our faculty taking up a subject close to our heart. 
  3. Every faculty contributed to sourcing the guest lectures by digging into their professional and  personal networks. 
  4. Organising a session every week requires a lot of manpower and discipline, all the faculty came  together and filled in for each other whenever required for the sessions to be put together. 5. A protocol has now been set for such events. 

1.7. Notes (Optional): 

There are miles to go before we feel we have arrived, but we have decided to take a small step at a  time and witness the compounding effect in a few years. We continue to brainstorm and encourage  new ideas from all teaching / non-teaching staff as well as students for the betterment of the learning  process. Ultimately, it is the students’ positive learning experience which will contribute towards their  success and that of the Institute. 

2- Fostering Freedom of Expression and Trust in Architectural Education 

2.1 Introduction: 

In the field of architectural education, creating an environment of mutual trust and freedom of  expression is crucial for the growth and development of students. By encouraging open dialogue and  creating a positive studio and campus environment, the objective is to instil a sense of security and  foster meaningful interactions among all stakeholders. This refined write-up highlights the best  practices implemented to achieve these objectives and the evidence of success observed in the  context of architectural education. 

2.2 The objective of the Practice: 

The primary objectives of implementing best practices for freedom of expression and trust in  architectural education are as follows: 

Establishing mutual trust and belief: Creating an environment where trust and belief thrive among all  stakeholders, including students and faculty.

Encouraging open sharing of feelings and opinions: Promoting an atmosphere where students feel  comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions to both their peers and faculty without inhibition. Emphasizing dialogue for problem-solving: Cultivating an understanding that constructive dialogue  among all stakeholders leads to effective problem-solving and collaborative solutions. 

Fostering a sense of security: Instilling a feeling of security among all individuals involved in the  educational process, thereby creating a safe space for exploration and growth. 

2.3 The Context: 

The traditional notion of strict obedience and hierarchical relationships between teachers and  students is gradually being replaced by more student-centric and facilitative approaches. The role of a  teacher or “guru” in architectural education is evolving towards being a respected facilitator,  commanding respect through expertise rather than demanding it. Striking a balance between  maintaining respect and becoming a friend to students poses a challenge, but it is essential to cultivate  lifelong relationships of mutual respect and happiness. At the institute, student counselling and  mentorship are integrated into the teaching-learning process. 

2.4 The Practice 

2.4 A. Studio Environment: 

Positive studio environment: Students are provided equal opportunities to explain their assignments,  either in groups or through one-on-one interactions. Feedback is framed as design criticism, focusing  on constructive and appreciative aspects to nurture critical thinking while acknowledging students’  strengths. 

Gradual removal of inhibitions: Inhibitions of speaking in public are gradually addressed, fostering  inclusivity and appreciation for diverse cultures. Teachers recognize individual students’ personalities  and strengths, assigning tasks accordingly. Public praise and private reprimand guide the feedback  process. 

Group studies and outdoor activities: Group studies conducted outdoors serve as platforms for  developing long-term bonds and recognizing students’ uniqueness. Students are encouraged to share  personal improvements, fostering a supportive atmosphere. 

2.4 B. Campus Environment: 

Faculty awareness: Faculty members are aware of students’ strengths and weaknesses, maintaining  respectful conversations and addressing concerns through open dialogue. Approachability of faculty is  emphasized. 

2.4 C- Faculty Involvement in Extracurricular Activities: 

Active participation: Faculty members actively participate in students’ extracurricular activities,  providing encouragement and demonstrating their expertise. Involvement ranges from cultural event  themes to verifying the structural stability of installations during exhibitions. 

Student-led initiatives: The Student Council runs various clubs, and while faculty initially played an  active role, students now manage them independently. These clubs, such as the sketching club and  poetry club, provide platforms for creative expression and collaboration. 

  1. The Tangibles: 

Barrier-free seating arrangements: Circular seating arrangements are sometimes employed to  eliminate the instructor-learner barrier, promoting open discussions. 

Human-centric education: Fostering empathy and acceptance of other cultures through a student centric approach, preparing students for professional growth without fixating solely on results. 

2.5 Evidence of Success 

2.5 A. Respecting students’ sentiments regarding celebrating festivals:

– Students are actively encouraged to celebrate various festivals, fostering a sense of cultural inclusivity  and allowing them to express their traditions. 

– During the 10-day Ganeshotsav, students create Ganpati idols, decorate the mandap, and perform  Puja, promoting creativity and religious observance. 

– Navratri is celebrated with enthusiasm, as students participate in dandiya raas, showcasing their  festive spirit and engagement. 

– Deepawali, or deepotsav, brings the entire campus to life with the illumination of diyas, creating a  vibrant and celebratory atmosphere. 

– Shivaji Jayanti is commemorated through street plays that depict the valour of the Maratha warriors,  showcasing the diverse historical heritage of India. 

– The involvement of a wide variety of students in these festivities demonstrates the institute’s  commitment to tapping into students’ expertise and fostering a sense of community. 

2.5 B. Exposure to Cultural Diversity in India: 

– Architectural Design Projects provide students with an opportunity to design in response to different  cultural influences, promoting an appreciation for diversity. 

– An audit course on Culinary Skills focuses on the food cultures of various communities, allowing  students to explore and learn about different culinary traditions. 

– These initiatives promote cultural understanding and expose students to the rich tapestry of Indian  culture, enhancing their knowledge and broadening their perspectives. 

2.5 C. Strengthening of trust: 

– The institute has actively worked to rebuild trust among students by engaging in meaningful  conversations and addressing their concerns with empathy. 

– Students feel comfortable approaching faculty for advice on various aspects, including choosing the  right office for training, selecting career paths, and pursuing further education. – The canteen staff contribute to a jovial environment, keeping both students and faculty in good  spirits, while faculty members also share their own recipes with the canteen, fostering a sense of  camaraderie. 

2.5 D. Mutually respectful environment and healthy competition: 

– The institute has cultivated a mutually respectful environment that encourages healthy competition,  eliminating jealousy and fostering a positive atmosphere. 

– Instances of loss of sheets or journals during critical times have been significantly reduced, indicating  a sense of responsibility and trust among students. 

– Students recognize and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, standing up for their  teammates and fostering a supportive community. 

– The nurturing of a safe space within the institute has created an environment where students feel  secure and can freely express themselves. 

Overall, this evidence demonstrate the success of the institute in promoting cultural diversity, fostering  trust, and creating a respectful and inclusive environment for students to thrive. 

Problems Encountered and Resources Required 

We have encountered problems in mentoring methods, specifically in establishing a connection  without invading personal space or being carried away by students. While our intent is right, some  faculty struggle with this aspect. To address the issue, we have sought guidance from psychologists to  learn effective techniques for encouraging students to open up and communicate. We are currently in  a learning phase. Recognizing that some individuals have an intuitive ability for mentoring, others learn  from observing them. To address serious issues, having an in-house psychologist would be preferable  to ensure proper resolution.