Evolution of Architectural Media

Text Credit – Ar. Himani Ahuja

An architect is the best possible individual to strategically curate the improved content, considering their exposure to the technicalities of the genre, and present it to the budding talent and also to eminent names of the design fraternity via the modem called architectural journalism and communication.  Tracing its evolution, during the periods that preceded the Renaissance in the west, such as the Romanesque and the Gothic, the knowledge of architecture was maintained in the hands of the few who protected the profession, who were the guilds of masons and master builders. It was during the Renaissance that architectural knowledge became accessible to the individual rather than belonging exclusively to the guild members. In addition to making rapid and widespread dissemination of documents possible, the printing press produced manuals that functioned as documents for valid building systems.

Eventually, regular architectural journals appeared in England. The coverage of architecture in national newspapers, radio and TV remained limited, unlike now. In recent times, it has increased in quantity and improved manifolds in quality. There is a reason to be optimistic that the written word of Architectural Journalism can have a serious role in delineating and defining the visual world of the built environment. Architectural journalism is this characteristic of realizing buildings, its structures, and expressing it with the power of words. Today it is a profession which conveys distinct architectural masterpieces, on understanding its motive, concepts, and service. It is a profession that brings to light the character and nature of the architect and makes it easy for a layman to understand its functionality and design aspects. A pioneer in this field, Ar. Suneet Paul who is the Editor-in-chief of the premier national magazine- Architecture+Design for over two decades has written numerous articles on architecture and design at the national and international levels. In one of our conversations, he discussed the evolution of architectural media and took me through the journey he has pursued in adapting to technology. When he joined, this field was never heard of and totally hidden. In 1984, A+D was one of the first to start this genre of communications. With a complete dearth of technology, he worked virtuously and made A+D an astounding success. Ar. Suneet is surprised to see the modern day technological advances and states how from the graphical software to the printing machines, everything has changed. Earlier he and his team sat down in a group and put everything together by hand. They had the physical copies of the write-ups, photos, and other details which was an experience of its own.

Everybody has grown with the evolution of time, and so has the profession of journalism. Talking about the current status of the architectural media industry, he laments the lack of journalism per say. While talking about architecture, for example in the newspaper he states that it’s always talking about the decor. Hardly anything else pertaining to the nuances of the craft is written or pursued.  He feels that the new generation needs to have that passion, a persistent urge to dirty their hands and delve deeper.

The architectural media and journalism has given birth to an array of fields including the architecture communication which is nothing but a package of techniques and technologies promoting the built environment organically and hence reaching a wider spectrum of audience. Its process branches out to various other horizons that include written and digital documentation of architecture. Since this field is about transforming designs into words, it is often pursued by architects and designers with a flair for writing. A minimal sense of aesthetics and prior knowledge on the subject makes it easier to understand the design concepts well enough to be able to develop one’s career in this niche of journalism. Intense skills in design interpretation, perceptional thinking, creative writing and documentation via photography and research, website development, aid in offering the prodigious facets of universal architecture to all admissible individuals.

On the flip side, I feel that, in the world’s largest democracy, the role of journalism should ideally transcend excessive commercialism by responsible individuals. Imparting correct information based on facts and figures helps validate an underlying principle of the society we live in: Competition in the marketplace of ideas and things. The same intent is followed in the field of architectural journalism, aptly baptized as the awareness promoter of the design world.  Today, due to the advent of Digital Media, Architecture Communication and Journalism has evolved considerably. Communication has become a significant aspect for an architect/designer, laying the foundation of an organic exchange of design ideas and theories. The compass of architectural journalism has widened and wizened, hitting the bull’s eye with every move. With a plethora of magazines, web portals, social media- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn, blogs in India and around the world connecting people, this stream has established its prominence in the AEC Industry. The inception of this learning if not initiated in the early stages of architectural learning, is not easy to grasp and implement. These magnanimous information swaps are the keystones, contributing to the changing facades of the built environment shrouded around our daily lives and beyond.