Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Architectural Fellowship Programmes

By Priyanka Vikash

Photography: Courtesy Ms. Yerramshetty

Fellowship Programme at KRVIA, Mumbai
A Fellowship Programme not only urges the student to think out-of-the-box, but inculcates personal and professional skill sets viz., leadership, public speaking, writing, time management, etc.; viewed in the larger context of integrated relationships between architecture and the social, cultural, political and economic scenario of the city.  

Minal Venkatramana Yerramshetty, an alumnus of L. S. Raheja College of Architecture, Mumbai is a full time faculty and heads the Fellowship programme at Kamala Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA), Mumbai and teaches Building Services, Interior Design, Climatology, Landscape Design and Town Planning with focus on Urban Legislation as well. Her studio Venkat Designs boasts of a repertoire ranging from interiors for 'Shringar Cinemas' theatre complex at Bengaluru to transforming Restaurant 'Desi Joint' in suburban Mumbai, among several others. She talks about the Fellowship programme at KRVIA and how it helps students to follow their heart.
Ms. Minal Venkatramana Yerramshetty at KRVIA, Mumbai
Ms. Minal Venkatramana Yerramshetty
IAnD in conversation with Minal Yerramshetty:
1. Why is a Fellowship anywhere in the world based on studying the dynamics of the geographic location it is situated in? How does this exercise benefit the Fellowship scholar? 
Fellowships are short-term opportunities focussing on research and professional development. It gives the candidate freedom to pursue his interest not adhering to rule books. Fellowship can be summarised into observations, experience and knowledge of the student and of the surroundings. It stems from their habitat and makes a deep impact on students.  Fellowship is all about strengthening one’s belief to question the norm and give direction, leading to some qualitative research/revelation.

Project by Fellow Richa Mehta at KRVIA, Mumbai
Project by Fellow Richa Mehta

2. Although ideas and hypotheses might look good on paper, how do they actually influence the students, given the niche quality of content? In other words how can a student benefit when the field is so vast? 
The study of architecture is a vast and diverse field often overlapping with other professions or arts.  Fellowships are all about ideas that may seem hypothetical at the onset; but via research, theoretical questioning and hypothecations, these very ideas take root and the outcome of the research is often enriching. 

Project by Fellow Kairavi Dua at KRVIA, Mumbai
Project by Fellow Kairavi Dua

3. There have been just 30 students from 1998 till 2010, who have attempted the Fellowship at KRVIA. Why do students opt for it? What stops the others - lack of ideas or the inability to find confluence between theories, ‘guided’ practice and independent real-life work? 
Fellowship is a self-motivated study in a specific field of interest with student having clarity in terms of goal and final achievement. It requires a disciplined approach and area of focus to develop research on a particular issue. Unfortunately in India, research has taken a back seat mainly due to limited funds, forcing institutions like the KRVIA to take on 2 to 3 Fellows every year. This is the main crux of the problem.
Project by Fellow Aparna Parikh at KRVIA, Mumbai
Project by Fellow Aparna Parikh

4. How does a person benefit academically from a Fellowship at KRVIA? What are the monetary benefits? 
Fellowship tends to sharpen the questioning and analytical capacity of a person as it is known for the rigour of intensive training and professional development.  Through this they create their niche identities. Fellows have the advantage of conducting extensive research; get trained as professionals and are paid a stipend either for teaching or working. At KRVIA, Fellows are full-time faculty taking on the responsibility of teaching 10-12 hours a week, thus gaining huge experience as an added benefit. 

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