Friday, September 30, 2011

Being an architect


A dear friend of mine,Kuna of life is colorful posted this link on her facebook page, and I found myself attracted to it like a moth to a light.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love being an Architect. I’ve been an Architect almost as long as I haven’t been an Architect (don’t try to do the math, please) and at this point I really can’t imagine doing anything else. Actually, I can’t imagine “being” anything else. It’s become more than a profession. It’s become part of the definition of who I am. But, no one really told me it would change every aspect of my perception of the world. No one told me it was going to get under my skin.
No one ever told me, that when you’re an Architect:

You won’t be able to afford your own taste

You’ll notice everything that is even slightly out of alignment

You’ll never look at a building without “reading” the architecture. You’ll only analyze a space, you won’t just experience it. You’ll be a bystander…

You’ll be endlessly fascinated with natural light and shadows

You won’t be able to let anything go, your brain will spin, you won’t sleep

You won’t be able to talk to anyone about what you do. No one will know what an Architect does

You’ll be weary and content at the same time

Your back will hurt

You’ll be less respected than you thought

Your shyness will be interpreted as arrogance

You’ll be working on your craft for years, you’ll never feel like you’ve mastered it, but you’ll keep at it, everyday, again, again

You’ll remember every single thing you did wrong on a project, and that will keep you from seeing everything you did right

You’ll want to put everything in order, always… But, you may choose not to do that

When you’re young, your heros will be irrelevant. You’ll figure that out when you get older

You’ll know a lot less about construction than you thought you would

You’ll mark the milestones in your life by the projects you were working on at the time

You’ll come to know a little about everything, you’ll know a lot about just a few things

You’ll begin to see the built environment as a continuously evolving form, built piece by piece by generations of individual efforts. – You’ll begin to see balance between individuality and community

You’ll often have an opportunity to be the center of attention, but, you won’t know how to take advantage of that

You will be interesting…

Cheers { Coffee with an Architect }

I have been an architect for a while now, and I have a constant love-hate relationship with it.

I'll be looking forward to go to work, all fired up to get a design done, and so weary of being shot down by architecture the next day. It might be me having a personality disorder, but let's hope not.:P

When you work, you always, always try to be the best in what you do right? Well, at least I do. But the problem in architecture is, that it is a form of art. It is so subjective that you can't really say what is good and what is not. Now, of course there are some basic guidelines, like your building should not cause any sickness to the occupants, you know, it needs to have sufficient air flow, and natural lighting to minimise sick building syndrome.

But when it comes to fa├žade, there's no defining it. Sometime I find myself so disappointed with myself for not being a better architect. For not being able to come up with an iconic building, to become a Zaha Hadid of the century. But the thing is, I don't want to. I want to be an unknown architect whose building make people happy instead of leaving them in awe.

To be able to hang on to the knowledge that it is ok to not design an iconic skyscraper is rather difficult, since those who can are practically worshipped in my line of work. And when such images are shoved in your face, (much like the idea of how a perfect woman should be is shoved in our faces by the media), you kind of start to doubt yourself, you start to feel bad about yourself, like you're not good enough.

Now, of course I do understand in all technicality, that being a better architect, with better designing skills, better construction knowledge or better drawing production abilities does not make you a better person. But sometimes, like the article above said, you kind of lose yourself in your job. It becomes you, and you become it.

It really is a sad thing because human are more than their profession (yeah, I do understand that, in theory), so sometimes, when I'm sober enough from all the "architectural drug" pulsing in my veins, and I can see and think clearly, I'm able to refuse to be determined by my profession. I can come to a soothing revelation that I am MORE than just an architect. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and hopefully soon, a wife and a mother(heh). And more importantly, I am just me. Whoever I prefer me to be.

So when that happens, I can just kind of tune architecture out. I hid all the posts on facebook related to architecture, I stopped analysing how a building's design can allow maximum sunlight and making a mental note of how to apply that in my design, stopped looking closely at construction details, and just tell my other half to shut it whenever he talks about architecture (this happens more often than I'm proud to admit), and just enjoy being just a Sati Sekar for some time.

For the time being, I'm still trying to tell myself that it is ok to not be an architect who's portrayed as the 'great building master'. That it is also ok to like building what I like and not to be pressured to build some iconic building just because architects who are talked about, do that. (agak peer pressure rupanya.. hahaha)

When I can finally permanently let go without having to persuade myself of the things above, I bet I'll be as happy as a lark.

But for now, it still is a barrier that I'm trying to overcome. :)

p.s: my permanently-architecturally-drugged other half and me decided to open a design consultation office. We've only just registered the business today. More updates on that later. We specialize in minimalist contemporary architecture. So, if any of you would like to build such building and need a consultation, feel free tocontact us. (sorry for the unashamed self promotion :p)


  1. gosh sekar! even though we kinda don't know each other personally, u've always been the 'go to person' in my head when it comes to architecture. i always tell my other half that if we ever get rich enough to build our own house from scratch, i'd want u to design it. & there u are announcing that ure starting ur own firm! yeayy! so it's sealed, yes? :P

    p/s: please take the above at the compliment. i don't know about other people but i do highly respect u architects with what u do :)

  2. Oh well, hello there future client! hahahah! Thank you for the compliments! I'm flattered to be pre-booked :p. When we have our portfolio all done, I'll be sure to let you know. :D

  3. Huhu..personal dilemma that I hope to get over with being an accountant? teettt~..
    Yeah,I see the world as how an accountant/finance student sees...and it has been interesting. Can't turn back anymore once you've gained knowledge of the field,right? I tried to think of changing my course...but it has me gripped on the interesting facts.. I don't want to lose myself..but I wonder too who I really want to be. Thanks Ska :) All the best ber-bisuness with Adam :p I like your blog btw!

  4. thank you! <3 Tu la I think most of us will be faced with this kind of dilemma at one point or another.

  5. I left architecture long ago. And yet, I'm still caught up in those things once in a while. I still marvel at buildings and their designs, and how a space can make me feel or think. Haisy! I guess, once you're in architecture, there's no really absolutely stepping out. haha~

    All the best girl :)


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