In continuation of our January theme Challenging the Status Quo, we’ve looked into what the current students and newly qualified architects and designers are bringing to the creative table.
How do today’s new designers and architects differ from the experienced ones? Apparently times have changed and so has the education they receive.
Lars Juel Thiis should know, as, on top of being a partner at Cubo Arkitekter, he is also adjunct professor at Aalborg University and chairman of the joint corps of examiners of Aarhus School of Architecture, The Kolding School of Design and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation, and has worked in the educational field since the 1990s. He points out one key thing that has changed during the years.
“If you go back in time, maybe 50 years or so, most of the architect and design students had a craftsman background, like a carpenter or cabinet maker. They knew the construction and materials and had an open approach to the creative field,” Lars Juel Thiis tells, before he continues onto the incumbent students:
“Today, most students come with an academic high school education. They are not as technically well-founded and they are missing some basic knowledge on the craftsmanship. Instead, now they master all the digital tools available, and they can easily communicate and visualize ideas and later transform them into 3D. Their way of communicating our profession is an asset for the business.”
One student who is brilliant at working with digital aids is Maria Vittrup Thomsen, who is currently taking her Master of Science in Architecture at Aalborg University. She’s currently undertaking an internship at AART architects as part of her course, and according to her, it’s no longer necessary to have a craftsman’s education.
“I don’t see the need for a business education. Obviously, there are some benefits when the building works starts, but most of our work can be done with the available digital tools. The same can be said about modelling. Our programs are so accurate and make it much easier when changes need to be done compared to working on a foam model,” Maria Vittrup Thomsen explains.
Let the Future In
Even though traditional craftsman trades and the modern design education approaches seem to be far from each other, it doesn’t have to be that way. Lars Juel Thiis believes the digital and technological approaches can and should be both part of the same profession.
“Robot technology is here for good, and the building industry is already trying to take advantage of this. It brings many interesting elements to the table, but questions also, such as how can we use the different education approaches to explore the new technologies? There is definitely a potential to tie the education sides together, but there’s still a gap in how to do this,” he explains.
According to Lars Juel Thiis, it’s up to the educational institutions to prove the necessity of a sustainable study environment, where the connection across professions will lead to a more competent future.
“Digitalisation can help connecting all the business education sides together to evolve more creative further education approaches,” he states, and Maria Vittrup Thomsen agrees with him:
“I think Lars Juel Thiis is right about that. It would be easier to accommodate each other if we all used the same digital tools to avoid misunderstanding and lost information. At some sites, they are integrating BIM (Building Information Modelling) to make the working process smoother for all involved, which could be one solution,” Maria Vittrup Thomsen says.
Until that deal is sealed, the experienced architect must find ways to work with the new digital academics in this evolving industry. When it comes down to it, the most important to him is that the schools are bases of innovation that foster clever fellows who think new and different thoughts that can move the industry into the future.
“After all, the dreams the students have are the ones we are going to inhabit in the future,” he ends.