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VAS

For the love of buildings

GENERATION NEXT
By Thorn Muli | May 12th 2013

By THORN MULI

Shelter is a basic need. Professionals called architects are responsible for designing the houses in which we live.

Architects discuss the objectives, requirements and budget of a building project with their clients before developing construction plans that show the building’s appearance and details for its construction.

Accompanying these plans are drawings of the structural systems that could include air-conditioning and ventilating systems, electrical systems, communications systems, plumbing, and site and landscape plans.

In developing designs, architects are required to adhere to building codes, zoning laws, fire regulations, and other laws, for instance those requiring easy access by people with disabilities. In some cases, they provide pre-design services such as environmental impact studies, site selection, cost analyses and design requirements.

 As construction proceeds, architects may visit building sites to ensure that contractors follow the design, keep to the schedule, use the specified materials, and meet quality standards. The job is not complete until construction is finished, required tests are conducted, and construction costs are paid.

Architects may also help clients get construction bids, select contractors, and negotiate construction contracts.

To get into this field, an aptitude for high-level mathematics, such as trigonometry and calculus, is important. Drawing skills are also invaluable.

Would-be architects should diligently study mathematics at primary and high school levels and take art and design if offered. Good analytical, communication, creative, critical-thinking, organisational, technical, and visualisation skills come in handy.

After high school, those keen on joining this profession have to put in five or more years at a recognised institution of higher learning after getting the required grades. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, University of Nairobi, and Kenya Polytechnic University College are the Kenyan public institutions offering architecture.

Upon graduating, the student has to practice for 18 months under a registered architect. The last step is passing a board examination, a requirement of the Architects and Quantity Surveyors’ Act Cap 525 of the laws of Kenya. Passing the exam entitles one to a practice certificate and a registration number.

Noteworthy is the fact that Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (Cadd) and Building Information Modeling (Bim) technology that help produce three-dimensional models have replaced traditional drafting paper and pencil. Therefore, a person wishing to become an architect is advised to study these courses after high school. This knowledge can help one obtain valuable internships or actual paid positions throughout college, which adds to their professional experience.

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