Architecture involves immense creativity and futuristic ideas to produce out-of-the box results. As innovation is escalating in India, young architects and town planning students are opting for overseas education to brush up their ideas and bring the best to the plate.
For Subhodeep Maji, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), Shibpur, West Bengal, Germany, was the place to hone his innovative skills and imbibe new architectural ideas. Post his bachelor’s degree from IIEST, he worked as an architect in some of the reputed firms in Kolkata for four years. However, when the time came for him to fulfill his dream to study in Germany, there was no turning back for Maji. He took admission in the Bauhaus Design School in Dessau - a small city next to Berlin, Germany.
Germany - a new hub for Indian students
Prior to selecting Germany, Maji checked out universities in the Netherlands and Italy as well. However, he was inclined towards German institutes offering curriculums, which best suited his interest. “There are no tuition fees in Germany, and living cost in smaller cities of the country is very comfortable for a middle-class Indian student. Furthermore, the country is culturally and socially vibrant that makes it an appealing place to study and live,” he adds.
Maji points out that studying Master’s in Architecture in Germany offers an opportunity for students to explore new techniques of construction and contemporary art. “Most of our faculties were visiting lecturers who are professional architects from Berlin and Hamburg in Germany or other institutes like TU Delft in the Netherlands. This kind of exchange arrangement makes the teaching process quite unique, and students can explore a wide range of activities too,” he adds.
German teaching methods are primarily based on assignments coupled with multiple lectures and in-house discussions in groups. “Learning mostly occurs in small groups, thereby allowing international students to exchange cross-cultural ideas and knowledge. Although the procedure takes extensive brain-storming, the output is always exciting,” he adds.
Also, Maji says that Germany has the highest employment prospects in Europe. Hence, after graduating, architects can extend their residential permit by a year and a half, and use the time to find a suitable job in a major city of the country.
European learning experience
Maji is currently in his semester two at Politecnico De Milano, Italy as part of Erasmus international student exchange programme. He says that the learning model in Italy is quite similar to that of in Germany.
“As European universities encourage visiting professors, students get the opportunity to view good projects or research from various institutions. Examinations comprise writing individual thoughts on a topic. To be honest, the practice of studying late in the night before the examination, does not work here,” he adds.
Maji says that European education values quality over quantity, thereby time dedicated to brain storming and group discussions are more than an individual’s overall work in a single semester. “If the project submitted or displayed by a student does not meet the expectations of the jurors, the former is allowed a second chance to improve. This makes learning an experience and not a burden,” he adds.
Maji emphasises that unlike India where projects are handled by an individual student, in Europe, radical minds assemble in groups to finish a project. “The mix of various minds from different corners of the world, and the exchange of knowledge is really fruitful in the long run,” he adds.
Maji credits his German education for inspiring him to think radical and come up with the best ideas that his mind can harvest.
Communication in Germany
While bigger cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart have a strong English-speaking population, Maji still recommends learning German especially for architects. “In architecture and planning, knowing the language is a compulsion for interacting with people in the site. Also, in East Germany where I live, Germans are keen to keep their culture and language intact; hence English is sparsely spoken,” he says.
After finishing his education in 2020, Maji plans to work in Germany for a couple of years before returning to India with better ideologies to enhance his architectural career.