Architects Turning Entrepreneurs – Where is the Ecosystem?
Buckminster Fuller, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Segal, B.V Doshi, Anupama Kundoo are not just successful thinkers and architects but are institutions by themselves. Architectural marvels developed by them are solutions to large and extremely complex design problems. Their entrepreneurial journey towards different discoveries and initiatives have been supported by an ecosystem that they relied on. However, these ecosystems are unique combinations of successful elements created by each one of them for themselves.
Their powerful vision has enabled to create these unique ecosystems, but for small, early and budding architects, an ecosystem with inbuilt growth elements should be inducted. As much as a business or social entrepreneur craves for an ecosystem, that can help them plug-in their ideas and release the final product, archipreneurs (architect entrepreneurs) look for a similar ecosystem.
In India, though the real estate and construction industries that depend upon architects have seen a splurge in demand and hence, increase in dependency on architects, there is a lack of an ecosystem to support the dependency. Also, the consumers, who need skilled and creative architects, do not have easy access to their portfolio, stories and credibility.
Now, the face of architecture in India is changing
Each year we see about 4000 architects graduate from colleges and until now there are over ~60,000 registered architects in India. These numbers look very discouraging when we know that there is a need for 5,00,000 architects to meet the growing needs of Indian home consumer.
To meet the needs and gaps of this segment, the industry is now collaborating with academia through various initiatives.
NCR-based real estate player Lotus Greens attempts to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of architecture for sustainable buildings. They have offered a project for developing 50 thousand sq. mtr. of group housing on its land parcel in Sector 150 in Noida. This is the first time that a live project was given to students. This was designed in a contest- model with the participation of over 35 architecture colleges across the country.
Indian Institute of Architects, A.P Chapter invited students to showcase their talent by representing their projects for the new capital city Amaravati, in a 3-day architect expo. This expo finally showcased 30 monumental projects.
International brands like Kohler and Grohe are exploring Indian waters by sponsoring events and award functions for Indian architects and recognise their talent.
The good news is that with the growing freelancing economy, architects see a promising future, provided there is some structure to support the growth. Architects in India need more.
Elements of an ecosystem for Architects in India
An ecosystem for architects should be able to provide networking opportunities, a platform to voice out ideas, access to key resources, branding & marketing opportunities, continuous professional development and know-how.
Ready-made guidelines that can be used to educate their clients are a great boon to architects. It saves time and money of both the architect as well as the consumer. Other areas where an architect spends time is to explain the project costs, build relationships with consumers and tackle the gaps between architectural design and entrepreneurial prowess. In this context, an architect must venture and read the book ‘Architect + Entrepreneur’ by Eric Reinholdt. It is a Field Guide to Building, Branding, and Marketing Your Startup Design Business.
Events and networking opportunities are a constant need for any entrepreneur. In the last five years, there has been in the number of MICE events pertaining to architecture in India. Architects can access the upcoming events in the space from here.
Architects have to deal with CAD drawings and BIM protocols. It is a cumbersome process for architects when they have to also deal with multiple tools to manage their daily affairs across multiple windows. This is where there is a need for enterprise management tool (ERP – SaaS) that is a one point interface to manage suppliers, vendors and clients. This tool has to cater to the Indian requirements and processes.
Branding, Marketing Opportunities and access to resources
Architects need a platform where they can share their portfolio and success stories with potential consumers. Wishkarma.com provides such a platform to showcase architecture projects and share them across their online social network. The other major challenge that this platform resolves is access to local suppliers, contractors and builders who can execute a project for an architect. You can access the common marketplace and information to those architect resources here.
Continuous Professional Development and Know-How
Architecture in India is racing through developments and innovative technology. Apart from that, on-ground application of architectural design concepts is way different from classroom theory. To help cope with architectural, technical and business practical scenarios, Jonathan Segal has developed a program called ‘Architect as a Developer’. Enter Architect is another such learning platform for architects.
While we have been able to introduce archipreneurs to possible pillars building the progressive ecosystem, there is a lot more opportunity to add value to this community.
About the Author: Nischala Agnihotri is a digital and content marketing consultant. She also writes about startups, marketing and learning skills.