Introduction to Architectural Journalism
Architectural Journalism is the practice of documenting and writing about architecture and design directed towards both professionals in the field and the common people. While such writing mainly involves an independent analysis or criticism of architectural work and its design philosophy, it might also encompass researching and writing about the latest advances in the field or the industry’s potential future. Articles in design magazines and journals about general topics revolving around architecture, description of projects by different architects and firms, reporting about architectural courses, and coverage of conferences and seminars are all considered to be in this niche of writing about architecture.
To a large extent, it aims to increase awareness around the buildings that affect our lives and gives us a way to communicate our feelings towards architecture while also affecting the future of designing buildings in some capacity.
Importance of Journalism in Architecture
Buildings are all around us, yet why do we never take the time to look at or understand them? They are not a part of people’s daily discussions, save for a handful of iconic buildings. Even those are only ever discussed within the confines of the architectural community, either amongst Architects themselves or in media and platforms like Architecture Digest, ArchDaily, and Dezeen which are mostly read by the architecture and design community. People outside the realm of architecture rarely ever get a chance to explore the buildings around them and understand the actual need or meaning of the architecture. Therefore, there is a need for architecture to be communicated and curated not just for the fraternity but also for the people outside the architectural community, to make them appreciate the importance of good architecture and help educate a wider audience.
This is where Architectural Journalism comes in. It capitalizes on the potential of the written word to reach the masses and increase communication surrounding architecture and design. It also helps to hold the community accountable and build a narrative around our built environment with people and society. An exchange of ideas, opinions, and recent innovations essentially create openness and awareness about architecture using words, making Architectural Journalism an important discipline.
Architecture Journalism as a career
In this day and age, when people are driven by the content they consume and are heavily reliant on the internet for products and services, harnessing the power of digital and print media to engage and interact with them is essential, especially for a discipline like architecture and design. There are different ways or mediums to connect with people, but writing is possibly one of the essential ones. Using the right words can be an absolute game-changer in grabbing people’s attention, especially now when people’s attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter.
Architectural Journalism and writing have the power to generate curiosity among the readers and encourage them to look at architecture in a completely different light and bring it into their everyday conversations. From a comprehensive 500-800 words description or a critical review of a specific building to a short caption on a social media post to a concise five-word bio of an architectural firm on its website, Architectural Journalism helps to present buildings and designs to the world, communicate new ideas, promote an architect’s work and increase their reach.
With this, journalism and writing have become an essential part of the overall architectural zeitgeist and the career choice has gained wide popularity in recent years. It may be a niche career choice, but it has slowly but surely become a highly viable and sought-after career option.
Scope in India and abroad
Even though practicing Architectural Journalism can seem like an uncharted path, it is definitely one with huge potential and expanding scope. It is a rising trend and the architectural community across the world has started to take notice.
As a result, the number of architectural journals and online platforms worldwide has grown rapidly, in addition to the existing and well-established magazines, blogs, and platforms like Dezeen, ArchDaily, and Architizer respectively. These tend to offer a deep insight into the past, present, and future of architecture and its community by talking about buildings, bringing forth architectural news, highlighting issues related to the practice, and conducting competitions. This recent increase in architectural websites and blogs due to the evolution in the digital world has created more opportunities and increased the demand for architectural journalists and writers.
Similarly, having an online presence has become imperative for all architects and their studios. It allows them to offer their services to a bigger group of potential clients and provide more exposure to their work, whether through a website, media coverage in journals or magazines, a social media profile, or a combination of all three. Sharing one’s ideas, thoughts, design processes, and writing that is relevant to their architectural practice helps to reach and interact with both younger audiences and experienced professionals, while simultaneously promoting their work. Thus, more and more studios in India and abroad are leaning towards creating awareness about their architectural and design practice, both online and offline.
However, many architects and designers face a lot of challenges and problems when it comes to creating content and putting their work out on the internet.
- Most architects do not have the time on their hands to consistently write detailed articles or relevant social media posts in addition to all the studio work they do.
- In case they can find the time to write, they are less skilled for the professional writing that is required for publishing articles on websites, journals, or online platforms.
- Approaching publishers and editors of architectural magazines can pose another problem. The opportunities of getting in touch with them are hard to come by.
- Managing content for multiple social media platforms is challenging as the way a user interacts with a platform and what they use it for can vary from one site to another. For example, scrolling through Pinterest can provide creative inspiration and new ideas, whereas a LinkedIn profile helps you connect with your peers and other professionals. Hence, different platforms need different types of content, which can be quite challenging.
- Being aware of current trends and curating content that people can relate to requires a lot more time and effort from the architects, which is difficult to handle along with an established practice.
This is why over the years, architects and professionals have also realized and recognized the importance of hiring a professional writer or an architectural journalist to handle their presence across different media and share their work with a larger audience.
Top international design firms like UNStudio, OMA, MAD Architects have started to opt for in-house writers as members of their Business Development and Communication teams to help them promote their firm and its work in both print and digital media, award submissions, or at social events. As a result, these firms have successful profiles on social media with hundreds of thousands of followers who continuously engage with their posts and get inspired by them. This also creates more opportunities for the studios to provide their services and reach potential clients.
Architectural firms in India like Morphogenesis and other smaller design studios have also followed suit and moved beyond magazines such as ArchDaily and Dezeen. They have opened up job and internship opportunities for budding architectural journalists and writers in the role of editors and communication managers to help start a dialogue around their work. Some even get a Communications agency on board to assist them in the process.
The apparent interest and recognition from the fraternity has led to increased demand and need for architectural writers and journalists today while also paving the way for a much more enormous scope moving forward.
Jobs/ Types of work in Architectural Journalism
Working in a field like Architectural Journalism lets you combine your technical knowledge of architecture as a degree and your passion for writing, making it a lot different from practicing Architecture. It also offers other perks and simple benefits over the conventional architectural practice which is known to be a very challenging and demanding profession.
To start with, architects usually need expensive software or powerful graphics card on their laptops to do their work. Instead, an architectural writer or journalist can start even with an inexpensive laptop or a writing tool of their choice and eliminate the need for an elaborate working setup.
More often than not, an architect needs to work with a team of other architects or designers along with various consultants to work on and finish a project. This can take up a lot of time, lead to delays, and increase dependency on others. On the flip side, when writing about architecture, one has the advantage of working of their own accord and not relying on others to finish a job.
Practicing architectural journalism also gives one the freedom and ease of working from anywhere, anytime whereas, architecture on its own can sometimes be a very restrictive job. The mundane nature of continuously sitting in front of a screen for hours on end and being stuck in a single place as an architect directly contrasts with the comfort and excitement of sitting in a cafe or a library to write with a cup of coffee/tea as an architectural journalist.
With that said, here are a few job profiles that one can look to work in as an Architectural Writer or Journalist.
1. A Communication Officer or PR Manager for established Architects and Designers: Nowadays, various architecture and design firms hire communication officers or PR managers to manage the writing and media coverage for their projects. It is a great option for jobs after studying Architectural Journalism, albeit a relatively newer one. The job profile may involve writing project descriptions for the firm’s projects that are being sent out for architectural journals and managing and curating content for their websites. It may also include writing for cover stories, competition entry boards, and various social media platforms. Talking to the press and journalists, looking at media coverage of the firm, and responding to questions that the media comes back with, among other things, may also be a part of your responsibilities.
2. A Writer/Editor for Architectural Magazines or Platforms: A traditional path for most Architectural Journalists, becoming a writer for an architectural journal or an online platform can provide you with knowledge about various aspects of architecture and also about prominent industry trends on both national and international level. It provides one with an opportunity to curate and critique the architecture around us and perhaps even start a conversation. Along with writing articles for publishing, this job profile may also involve joining the editorial team to plan and edit the written material and advise fellow writers. This is also a viable option for Architectural Journalism internships.
3. A Freelance Writer: The most up-and-coming Architectural Journalism job in the post-pandemic work-from-home setup is that of a freelance writer. You can write for regional newspapers, architectural journals, and online platforms or provide your services for short-term assignments. You can also help architects write about their work. Flexible work hours and control over your writing are two significant advantages of being a freelance writer.
4. Starting a personal blog: A great way to indulge in your passion for writing, starting a personal blog can be a distinguished path to take for Architectural Journalism. In this digital world, having a way to reach new audiences and help create awareness about your work is of great importance. Running a public blog and communicating your thoughts can provide a great platform to engage in dialogue with the readers and help grow your business by building a reputation, bringing more exposure, and increasing networking opportunities. Writing about your own ideas/ designs can even act as an online portfolio that expands your reach to find potential clients and receive helpful feedback.
How to become an Architecture Journalist?
To practice Architectural Journalism or get an Architectural Journalism job, some skills that can easily enhance your resume or even help you perform better in your role. These skills can very often also be prerequisites for various job profiles and career opportunities.
1. An Architectural or Design background: Having architectural or similar qualifications lends a lot of credibility to you as a writer, whether for specific projects or general topics related to architecture. Some experience in the field and technical knowledge can also help you better understand and write about the details of a project.
2. Communication skills: As an architectural journalist, especially in the position of a Communication officer or a PR Officer, good communication skills play a vital role. It is extremely helpful in interacting with the media about your projects, successfully conveying your ideas across for the writing, or handling a stressful situation.
3. Graphic Design skills or just an eye is enough: An eye for good visuals and knowing the basics of graphic designing can also prove useful in Architectural Journalism. Being proficient with Adobe software will help to enhance the quality of your written material and also bring visual interest.
4. Research Skills: Research forms a large part of any kind of writing process, especially in Architectural Journalism. It is important to read about a building or research a specific topic to gain more expertise to finally write about it.
5. Being in sync with the happenings in the design industry: Awareness of the new design trends, techniques, and news about the architectural community can help to keep your writing up to date and avoid stagnation. Merging current affairs and architecture can make your writing rooted in the current times and also more relatable to a larger audience.
Build a Portfolio:
A portfolio is a great tool to showcase your writing and can be another step to prepare for a career in Architectural Journalism. You can start to build your portfolio by including your published articles and other work from a freelance job you may have done or an internship you were a part of. It can also contain writing samples to exhibit your ability to produce and write content for websites and blogs strategically. Having a combination of both, Long format writing like project descriptions and Short format writing such as social media posts tailored for specific platforms, can also add a lot of variety to your portfolio.
Learning about Architectural Journalism:
University education: A formal education from a leading university can provide the necessary knowledge and experience to be industry-ready. It will also help provide a platform to pursue after your degree. Although Architectural Journalism Masters can seem the best option to follow, it can be a big commitment right out of the gate, both in terms of time and money. This is something to consider as such courses are usually either long or full-time while being very expensive.
Free Online courses: Nowadays, free courses are available on many online learning platforms, making learning more accessible than a university education. They help you learn more conveniently without any time constraints. However, such courses do not cover all aspects and fail to provide a deeper insight into the field. The basic information from a free Architectural Journalism online course may not be enough for you to start building a long-term career.
Considering all this, there is another option available that may just be the best of both worlds: the credibility of university-level education and the convenience of an online course.
The Architectural Journalism/ Writing Online Course by ArchitectureChat
A collaboration between ArchitectureChat and Epistle Communications, the course is an online learning module for students and young practitioners that will help you kick-start a career in architectural journalism and explore various aspects and opportunities of the profession. The complete step-by-step course is an excellent opportunity for you to learn the framework of architectural writing and explore the field of communications. The interactive and live online sessions are aimed to cover everything from building reviews to building an architecture portfolio and getting a job.
The 5-week Architectural Journalism online course is mentored by Tanya Khanna, the founder of Epistle Communications, and is carefully designed and structured to cover all aspects of Architectural Journalism and to provide in-depth knowledge on the subject. It includes the following 10 modules of 60 minutes each:
● Introduction to Architectural Journalism and Need for Architectural Writing
● Framework of Write-ups
● Project Descriptions Part I
● Project Descriptions Part II
● Critical Reviews
● Blogs and Social Media
● Website/ Newsletter Writing
● Writing for Brand Development
● Skill Sets for the Job Role like Communications Manager, PR Manager
● Assessment, Feedback, and Interaction
Additional course features:
1. A Certificate of Completion is provided at the end of the course.
2. Learn at your own pace with recorded sessions.
3. Personalized learning and interaction with the instructor and fellow students.
4. Experience global perspectives and experiences about architecture and design of students from all over the world.
From real-life examples to tons of reading material, the teaching is highly practical and based on the current trends and insights of the Architectural Journalism industry. The natural progression from one module to another also allows for a comprehensive understanding of the material. Weekly assignments help put your learnings to immediate use, while the constant feedback provides a better understanding and enhances your skills. It is a valuable and informative course that is easy to follow, even for those with no prior experience in architectural writing.
Are you interested? Well then, for more details regarding this Architectural Journalism online course, visit the link mentioned below.
An avid learner and reading enthusiast, Urja Jindal is a practicing Junior Architect who is currently exploring her interest in Architectural Journalism. She believes that people are the best audiences to the buildings around them and sees architecture as a medium that has the most power to change their environment.