HomeSpotlightDo science students make better architects?

Do science students make better architects?

India is a land of architectural marvels and a treasure trove of historical monuments. It is difficult to compile a list of forts, temples, palaces and monuments here as our country is  bequeathed with copious structural wonders. Every monument has an intriguing story and a fascinating history to it that makes these beautiful monuments even more striking. These monuments are not just an evidence of our interest but also confirmation of our architectural talent. In a land of Taj Mahal, the profession of architecture has a special responsibility, the architects have even a greater responsibility of upholding and carrying on the tradition and at the same time evolving with the modern trends. And the institutions responsible for nurturing the young talents have even more greater responsibility of bringing out such talents year after year. Perhaps, the Council of Architecture, an organisation charged with the responsibility to regulate the education and practice of profession, had this aspect in mind when it thought of changing the norms that will make it tougher for students aspiring to take admission in the five-year Bachelor of Architecture from next academic year onwards.

Till now aspiring candidates should have a valid NATA score (National Aptitude Test in Architecture) conducted by Council of Architecture (COA) / JEE (Main) Paper – II (subject to COA Regulations) and must have passed any one of the these courses with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate: 10+2 with Mathematics and English as compulsory subjects. Alternatively, 3 years Diploma (any stream) after 10 years of schooling recognized by Central/State Governments with Mathematics and English as compulsory subjects, also fulfills minimum eligibility criteria for the candidates.

However, a notification issued by the COA in January last year has changed minimum requirement to get admitted to B. Arch course.  “No candidate shall be admitted to the architecture course unless she/he has passed an examination at the end of the 10+2 scheme of examination with 50% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and also marks in aggregate of the 10+2 examination.” This eligibility criteria shall come into force from academic session 2019-2020.

In addition to the above, the candidate needs to qualify an Aptitude Test in Architecture conducted by the Council or by the competent authority of the Central Government or the respective State Government, complying with the admission norms prescribed. Further, the institutions shall give weightage of 50% marks for aptitude tests and 50% marks in the qualifying examination in the matter of admissions.

There are about 541 institutions in India, which are imparting undergraduate degree course in Architecture leading to recognized qualifications. The Council oversees the maintenance of the standards periodically by way of conducting inspections through Committees of Experts.

The new norm has divided the architecture community over its long term implications, though the majority of the people in practice have staunchly come behind the Council for its new norms. “It is absolutely a right step. Of course, number of aspirants will reduce but the quality will improve,” says Alhad Gore, Managing Director, Beyond Design Architects.  According to him, “Architecture is a mixture of art and science. The candidate should have good knowledge of science, especially physics and mathematics. For example, to know various aspects like column and structural strength, knowledge of physics and mathematics is absolutely necessary. ”

Ramesh Raghavendran, Managing Director-Archinova Design Pvt.Ltd. too concurred with Alhad Gore when he said “the students who aspire to take up the course of architecture and be a professional architect in my opinion should have exposure in math , physics & chemistry apart from skills of sketching. As the course contains building material (as a subject), a student should have an insight in basics of chemistry and structural analysis which needs physics and to do this all need math.  The Core competence of students is based on design but having knowledge of materials and structures can help him to do a better design which is practical and realistic.”

However, a Director of a School of Architecture has a different opinion which he gave on the condition of anonymity, “it is passion in the aspirant to learn the subject that is more important and knowledge of physics, chemistry, etc are secondary. If a student wants to pursue this line and is passionate about the subject we should not create hurdles in his path. After all India is on the verge of explosive growth in urbanisation and we need large number of architects.” He anticipates a substantial fall in the number of aspirants for the architecture course in the coming year.

Indeed, the number of people joining the profession is increasing and in last few years it has grown phenomenally.

Year-wise registration of architects
S.No.YearNo of architects

*Till 25th October 2018

Year-wise No. of candidates for NATA
Sl NoYearNo of candidates passed


Interestingly, number of candidates passed in NATA has remained almost constant with 2017 number seeing sharp drop. For 2019, NATA will be held in April 2019 and the results will be announced in June.

Different universities have different set of entry level requirements around the world. For example, entry requirements for BA Architecture at University of Manchester is a mixture of science or maths and humanities or arts subjects is preferred, but not essential. Art or Fine Art A-levels are particularly welcomed at Manchester. In general, in UK , English language, art and design and mathematics are all preferable subjects to have studied before applying to an Architecture programme. Further, the aspirant should also enjoy drawing freehand and have an interest in design and producing 3D work. At many UK universities, a portfolio of work is crucial in being offered a place.

In order to get admission into University of Sydney for Bachelor of Design in Architecture, a secondary education qualification with mathematics is a prerequisite. Students are also required to meet the English language requirements of the University. On the other hand, at National University of Singapore, to get admission into architecture course the applicant need to have completed 12th or higher level pass in Chemistry or Mathematics or Physics or Physical Science.

There is a general feeling that though the number of new entrants into the profession is increasing the quality is on the downward trend. COA is aiming to improve the quality of students at the entry level. For example, the Council had constituted a Committee to prepare draft syllabus of Architecture subject at 10+2 level. As Architecture is a professional course and presently taught at undergraduate and higher level, it was felt that there is an urgent need for introduction of Architecture subject at 10+2 level in all Schools affiliated with CBSE and other State Boards so that students desirous of entering into profession of architecture are introduced with subject of architecture and their acumen and aptitude is to build for this profession. However, the proposal has been lying with HRD Ministry since last two years who has not yet issued appropriate directions for introduction “Architecture” subject at 10+2 level.

HRD Ministry and the government in general should realise that the architecture profession will be at the centre of next phase of country’s transformation as the government’s policies and programs will be focused around urban development, affordable housing, housing for all, smart cities, etc. We will be entering a phase where more (number of architects) the better and better ones will be even better. So, both quantity and quality should be the priority.

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