To become an architect is to have one of the coolest and most self-fulfilling jobs out there. However becoming an architect is a hard process, during which you will need to acquire many skills. Those skills are not only oriented around knowledge, but also you as a person.
In this article we are mentioning 10 skills we believe are essential for you to become a successful architect!
- Knowing the design process
Behind every project and every building there is a process and knowledge of how to design. You start from understanding basic ideas, functions and needs behind the design. Respond to them with sketches, models and your own interpretation of said ideas. Finally you find the solution and realise it, at the end learning from the process to be better.
Knowing the design process is a skill needed in many professions, however it is architects’ day to day work that revolves around it. From the beginning to the very end of the project we are using the design thinking skill. Without it we wouldn’t be able to make a functional building. Although it is something that sounds rather obvious, it is hard to actually use it – especially in a hectic and fast-paced environment such as an architect’s office.
- Drawing skills
You don’t need to be the next Rembrandt to become an architect, however knowing basic drawing rules, knowing how to communicate your ideas through fast sketches and then polishing them to a finished design is a must.
The design process starts from basic drawings and sketches, new ideas are often rather drawn down than written down, so knowing how to draw is an important skill.
- Software skills
In the ancient times before the age of computers, architects drew all of the building plans by hand. It was tedious, hard work, oftentimes done on the actual office floor. Nowadays this is done on computer software. There are many various programs – 2D, 3D, BIM (building information modelling – programs that work well in both 2D and 3D environments). What is worth noticing is that every office can work on a different set of programs. Find out what set of programs suits you best, but remember to always learn about new software to not fall behind competition!
- Knowledge of building codes and laws
Designing a building without knowing building codes and laws is basically designing a fantasy. Local building codes and regulations tell us when, where and how the buildings can be designed. Every building also needs to pass fire safety requirements and needs to recognize local building restrictions. Good architect knows and understands how to apply those laws to their design.
- Business skills
Architects are business people. We sell our designs – so we need to know how to do it. We need to know how to get clients and how to make them stay with our office.
What is more, a project always has a budget. Working in that budget is quite a skill! We need to know how to handle the budget and oftentimes we as architects are talking money with other parts of industry like structural engineers. Taking that into consideration, we need to have entrepreneurial skills well developed.
- Problem solving
During the design process something always goes awry. And to be frank, more often than you want to admit! You need to be able to resolve any problems quickly – be it a legal, design or realisation problem. It is important to be adaptable and flexible to change things. You also need to be good at critical thinking – oftentimes a problem arises when you don’t see it in time. Being able to think about every issue analytically and thoroughly can save you both time and stress.
Every building starts with an idea – be it something simple or grand. You need to be able to find the right concept for the design. Being creative is being able to make up many options for your project and to be able to change it as much as needed – until it feels right.
You may think that creativity is linked only to concept design, however it is so much more. Problem solving is very much linked with creativity. Oftentimes you need to think outside the box to find the right solution to a problem or improvement to the design.
- People Management
Architects do not work alone. You cooperate with other industries, may it be structural engineers, electrical engineers or interior designers. As an architect you will need to be good both at teamwork and leadership – because you are the one that coordinates all the design parts into one building, and you are the one responsible for the design. You need to know how to communicate, manage and explain certain things to coordinate the design process well.
Not only communication with your team is important. It is also important to be able to communicate your ideas and sell them – and not only visually through a sketch or presentation. You often need to pitch your ideas to clients, give spoken presentations or write reports.
Again, you don’t need to be the next Agatha Christie! But knowing how to explain your ideas verbally – be it to sell them or to get the design done just the way you want, is extremely important.
- Time Management
It goes without saying that our job is hectic as heck (pun intended). We need to do things quickly, sometimes working on multiple projects at the same time. To be able to do so you need to know how to manage your time – be able to recognize what has the biggest priority and how much time it will take you to finish the task. Oftentimes you will need to know how to multitask, because resolving multiple problems in a project will result in working in a few different areas at the same time. What is also important is knowing to take initiative in a project. To see where you will need to fill the gap before the gap will be even visible. Great time management will save you stress and often also… yes, you guessed it, your time. Because when a project is well managed there is a smaller risk for overtime.
Being an architect is hard work – you need to combine all of the different skills – not only creative but also analytical ones. You are not only an engineer but also an artist and a salesperson. Do not fret though – many of the skills you will acquire during your journey to your architectural degree, others you will improve in time. Some you will need to learn from scratch, but it will be worth it. Remember – you are not born great, you make yourself great.
The skills we wrote down are just a couple we find the most essential, but maybe you think there are others that are as important. Please tell us in the comments, what you believe makes a great architect!