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New jobs of Architecture

David Goodman, our Director of the Bachelor in Architecture, held an engaging conversation with Odile Decq, director of the Paris firm Studio Odile Decq, regarding the new jobs of architecture. This conversation happened at Parc des Expositions de la Porte de Versailles, Paris.

David Goodman and Odile Decq both believe that architecture as we know it today will of course continue to be relevant, but that the role of the architect will develop far beyond just the built environment. Architects possess traits that can be difficult to find elsewhere, they are creative and analytic thinkers, team players, communicators and visionaries. All of these traits are of extreme importance in the modern day world. The complex and intertwined challenges we are facing as a society makes the kind of integrative, creative intelligence of the architect too valuable to apply only to one aspect of the world. Architects can and should be active in public policy, in business, and in scientific research on the physical environment and our impact on it.

David and Odile agree that the main drive for this change is that modern society is facing issues which are ever increasing in complexity and are ever more interconnected. Climate change is also a big issue, and is likely to cause many ancillary changes related to immigration, food, security and many more. How can architects respond to these complex challenges? By being able to approach it creatively, analytically and with a team.

It is important to prepare our students to be proactive, to propose rather than to respond.

Combining architecture and entrepreneurship

An important issue that was discussed was the link between architecture and entrepreneurship and why it was lacking in the modern day career. In the past it was assumed that being a good architect was enough to have a successful career, although this is of extreme importance it is no longer enough. To think like an entrepreneur means you cannot assume that clients will simply come to you, or that your work is good enough that it speaks for itself. It is also important to prepare our students to be proactive, to propose rather than to respond.

An insightful response was given when asked what steps they thought architectural schools should take to introduce aspects of entrepreneurship into the architectural education. Both David and Odile think that the alternative practices that they implore provide a perfect example of how it might be done. Students spend an entire semester exclusively learning how the skills of an architect can be applied to areas outside the confines of the traditional roles of architecture. Our students enroll in a series of workshops, one at a time, allowing them to get a taste of how architects can contribute in other ways. This is an important aspect, as is actually knowing the basics of running an organization, which is something architects are often asked to do but rarely trained for.

Women and families in architecture

Another important topic within architecture is the role of women. More women are being inspired to take up a career in architecture, it is important to empower women to succeed in their role once they do. This is a complex issue that varies from country to country, and depending on where our students go after graduation they are likely to face different challenges. The more prominent issue is that the profession should be more family friendly, as it often has work hours that are very difficult to maintain a healthy work – life balance therefore restricting the progress of mothers and fathers within the profession, which is an issue that needs to change.