Architecture is about designing solutions. In order to design, we look around us for solutions that already exist. We look in to our past to learn how it was done before and why it was done that way. We reflect on the various methods of design and on why some methods fail while others succeed. The design process that begins as an idea or image in our heads is scrutinised by our knowledge base of architectural History, Theory and Method and sifted through several cycles of questioning and rationalising before it is ready to appear as a solution before the world. In traditional Indian thought, there are two types of professional skills: vidya and kala. Vidya requires the power of speech and kala can be practices without verbal communication. Shastric texts define many kalas that are skilled but essentially manual and many vidyas, which are areas of expertise requiring intellectual knowledge. According to this definition, architecture is a vidya: it is a system that is primarily verbal and intellectual.
Critical reading and writing strengthens our knowledge base and brings clarity to our thought processes, which in turn improve our design ability. Writing also improves our communication skills so that we are able to explain our design clearly. After all, as architects we have to defend our designs to clients. Hence, honing ‘critical thinking’ skills to develop the intellectual basis of architecture is one of the highlights of the pedagogy at SAA. Apart from this, other pedagogical and research emphases of the School include: ‘heritage’, ‘sustainability’ and ‘art and aesthetics’ and ‘hands-on learning’. Building upon these, we hope to develop research and make a mark on architectural and planning pedagogy at the global level.
The school has now expanded its Masters programmes in Architecture and Planning to bridge the gap between its Bachelors and Doctoral programmes. It is also launching for the first time in India, two new Bachelors Programme to address the gaps in architectural practice and the construction industry. This will contribute towards upgrading skills of research in the country. The school is in the process of positioning itself as a resource centre in the region, providing capacity building and training opportunities for professionals in the field. We also aim to establish a permanent gallery and archive centre of the Modern Indian Architects, work on the first SAA Journal of Architecture: Veranda has already begun and it’s expected to be out early next year. With over 60 fulltime faculty-members and around 800 students, SAA is poised to achieve greater heights.