Completing a degree in architecture can be a long and arduous process, but also wonderfully rewarding. Despite this, I have found that many freshly graduated architects find themselves unsure about where to begin, or deciding that they actually don’t want to be architects at all. Architects often argue over the actual definition of our discipline, but can never really escape the use of broad terms, coming from a fantastically broad education. It’s unsurprising then, that deciding what kind of architect you want to be is an intimidating one. Below is a short list of possible alternative fields that you can pursue.
Branches of Architecture for you to consider:
· Landscape Architect – Designing outdoor landscapes, including infrastructure, public areas, agriculture and forestry is vital for constructing the webs that bind our urban and rural spaces, but also, and perhaps more importantly, it’s essential for responding to globalization and climate change.
· Urban Planner – The dynamic state of the urban environment makes it an exciting path to take as an architect, covering everything from economic and demographic changes, to sustainable development.
· Restoration Architect – Conservation and restoration of buildings is undeniably a challenge; it is never possible to please everyone.
· Research Architect – Information technology has had a profound impact upon architecture that is far from over. These constant improvements are in part made possible by the exciting research being done by architects, not necessarily consisting of designing buildings, but focusing more on how these new tools can enhance our work.
· Lighting Architect – Light has a profound impact on our mental and physical health, as anyone living at high latitudes can empathize with. Delving into the architecture of lighting entails improving the quality of our experiences, our health and well-being, and the sustainability of not only the natural environment, but also smaller spaces such as our work environments.
· Political Architect – Some argue that architecture is by nature political, however being active in the political decision of a city or country is a different story. Architecture is more than just creating beautiful objects; the discipline has a value in organizing society. It is a case of architecture influencing politics, instead of the other way around.
Careers in Art and Design
If, upon graduating, you realize that architecture is in fact not for you, design and art might be. Architecture already is a form of design (or maybe it’s the other way around), making it easier to create direct links between your education as an architect, and your profession as an artist or designer. Another alternative is to combine two disciplines, such as graphic design and architecture. Like some of my classmates perhaps your passion is to make it easier for architects to communicate through graphics?
· Graphic Designer (A popular choice) – Graphic design is the way in which we take in our world and identify it. It is invaluable when it comes to communication. It can also be so aesthetically pleasing that one can hardly resist becoming a graphic designer. Taking a short course in graphic design to supplement a degree in architecture can open up a range of possibilities to still work within the field, but take charge of tasks that are more suited to your interests in communication.
· Artists – The spatial reasoning and visualization skills one gains from an education in architecture lends themselves perfectly to installation art, sculpture and spatial experiences, without the necessity for functionality.
· Video Game Designer – The near-limitless boundaries that come with designing a virtual world may be one of the most fun things a newly graduated architect could think of doing with their education. Constructing the architecture of a video game is a means of letting your imagination roam free, but could also add more depth to your spatial reasoning.
· Production Designer – Although a set or a stage are far smaller platforms than a virtual planet, designing theatre, music video and film sets allows for just as much creative flow.
· Photographer – Architecture photography is becoming increasingly popular, possibly due to the beautiful geometry that can emerge by constraining something within a lens.
· Industrial Designer – If the prospect of designing something enormous, permanent, and landscape changing sounds all too intimidating, industrial design is a great, smaller scaled alternative.
· Furniture Designer (A popular choice) – Even more so than industrial design, furniture design can be seen as architecture’s little sister. Countless famous architects have made significant contributions to furniture design: Charles and Ray Eames, Alvar Aalto and Arne Jacobsen, among others. Contemporary architects such as Zaha Hadid Architects are following suit, proving that the two can even be done simultaneously.
Here is an example of furniture design that I did in my final year of architecture for my product design elective.