Walking down a silent street at night is what most people prefer to calm their minds. Watching the multi-coloured and different shaped buildings and houses ignites the sensation of calmness in our thoughts. Often, the silent features of the incredible piece of architecture force us to think and question ourselves, ‘How can a construction be so calming and incredible at the same time?’
Architecture is not just limited to the definition of art or based on the principles of constructing a design. As per Frank Gehry, “Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.” Studying architecture is like studying all the sciences, commerce, and arts simultaneously. Struggling with this mixed bag of surprises, the new age architecture students are looking for a mentor who can guide them to excellence.
Identifying the need to train and groom the future architects of the world that will define the physical designs, Ar. Rajendra Kumar turned to enhancing the education standards of architecture studies. Bringing a global experience to the table, He served NIU as Director of the School of Architecture and other insitution on position of Dean of Architecture School.
Being an architect who knows the little details that can shape the world’s future. Ar. Rajendra Kumar turned into an unorthodox educator with a vision to provide the architect students with every tool that would help them shape the world for good.
An Unorthodox Architect and Critic
Rajendra Kumar is Architect, Academician, Curator, Author, Architecture Critic. He is graduated from Chandigarh College of Architecture and Post-graduation from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. He has work experiences in Europe and Asia and has an environmental and urban sensitivity approach; he is actively involved in academia and research.
He also chairs the seat as an advisory member of various think tanks of national and international importance and invited members for various projects with global leaders, including Prime Ministers, Governors, Ambassadors, Mayors, Policy makers, United Nation, WHO, and UN-Habitat etc.
Equipped with mixed experiences of varied scale projects, ranging from urban scale to Buildings and Interiors, he is also an architecture critic who appeared on various TV Channels, Radio, Print and Online Media in India and abroad. He has 100+ publications and invited lectures to his name at national and international conferences in India, Spain, Hong Kong, South Africa, Slovenia, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Korea, USA, Taiwan, Poland, Iran, UAE, UK etc. including Columbia University, New York, GSD Harvard University, USA. He has travelled extensively in many parts of the globe and is a keen photographer.
The Connecting Dot between Industry and Academics
Taking about his influence on the industry and the education sector Ar. Rajendra Kumar says, “I am a firm believer of the strong role of industry and academia complimenting each other. I always believe in the need for continuous efforts to fill the gap in practical aspects of the Indian Education curriculum. Having worked with international organisations, I try to learn from global experiences for reform in education at university as well as primary education level.”
“In today’s world, when Information technology made possible for the globe to connect so easily, it’s a very apt time to understand the need for futuristic vision in the education system. At present, I am with CPKA, India’s top architecture practice for global outreach, research and development, academia-industry connect,” he adds.
Curating and Shaping the Learning Curve of Aspiring Architects
Having served institutions at academic and leadership positions such as Dean and Director, Rajendra Kumar has always attempted to bring awareness about global developments in the professional field and make students ready for future jobs.
Emphasising his approach to enhancing the education system along with his contribution to the future of architecture, Rajendra Kumar says, “I conducted numerous interactive sessions with top leaders of industry and education. I also contributed to International Universities in various positions, e.g. Contributing Author, Editorial Board ‘Third Assessment Report’ on Climate Change and Cities (ARC3.3) and Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN), Earth Institute, Columbia University: published by Cambridge University Press, International Correspondent Asian Network of Industrial Heritage, Taiwan, Mentor students Research lab (MSRL) Research project ‘Public Space of Tomorrow’ with Gdansk University of Technology, Poland, Visiting Expert: School of Chief Architect, Yekaterinburg, Russia, Jury member, expert of numerous Indian and International Universities including IITs, NIT, Columbia University, New York, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Gdansk University, Poland, Korea University, Seoul, School of Chief Architect, Yekaterinburg, Russia etc.”
Bringing the Globe to Indian Education
During his tenure as Director of School of Architecture, NIU – one of premium university, Ar. Rajendra Kumar developed a USP of Global Exposure, Industry-Academic connection and Practical experiences.
Talking about his approach to this successful venture, he says, “I tried for regular updation in the syllabus, pedagogical reforms, national & international workshop, tours, interactions with global leaders for students were few of initiatives, which I took during my tenure in all education institutes.”
Address, Identify and Overcome the Challenges
Having spent most of his life in the architecture industry, Ar. Rajendra Kumar adhered to many challenges in his career. Emphasising on the current industry-oriented challenges in the education sector, he says, “I always advocated for autonomy to educational institutes and feedback system by stakeholders. I hope that the present National Education Policy will bring a paradigm shift in the education system of India, matching with global standards. During COVID and the online study period, we brought a few reforms to our education system, and new terminologies emerged, such as Hybrid mode, Online study, Virtual Universities etc. A few years after COVID, it will be testing time for such topologies, and if it continues, the next decade will have a totally different education system at all levels.”
Inspiration, Interaction and Motivation
Ar. Rajendra Kumar has guided 100+ architecture students of India, Germany, Poland, Nigeria, and Bhutan for architecture course thesis, dissertations/research. He is also a Peer Reviewer and Scientific Committee member for a few national and international forums.
All this constant hustle for a better future requires dedication and motivation. Explaining his approach to staying motivated amid the busy lifestyles of architects, he says, “I always try to engage myself for interactions with all stakeholders be it Policymakers, authors, students, leaders, governing bodies, International universities, research scholars etc., as an advisor, expert committee members, jury, guide for research projects.”
Educating Beyond Four Walls of the Classroom
To maintain maximum students engagement and provide quality education to the students Ar. Rajendra Kumar says, “I attempt to understand newer ways to connect with students, be it professionally and personally. Pedagogical approach and student-teacher relations need to go beyond the four walls of a classroom and the boundaries of school. Students and academician relation is needed to have very personal and humanistic.”
An Educator’s Advice as a Critic
Students should expose themselves to global experiences, and today Internet has given everyone the key to open any door of information in the world. Students of all streams should have habits of travel and observations from all fields.
Advising the new age architects about their learning pedagogies Ar. Rajendra Kumar says, “Learning from various case studies are the best method of understanding the aspect of theories. We all should have a habit of asking what and why? Students should develop a curiosity to learn from personal experiences and the application of theory for better understanding and societal reform. Each individual has a role in shaping a new horizon for the nation.”
Aiming for Reform
Envisioning the future endeavour for Indian Universities, Ar. Rajendra Kumar says, “I am aiming to contribute as an expert member to regularities bodies of India for education reform, need-based changes in Indian Education system. Understanding about the implementation of NEP, a few international symposiums, exhibitions, and more writings understanding about nuances of the online plus hybrid mode of education in professional institutions for better global exposure to students is a few of my future plans. Participation and contribution in Upskilling, Quality Improvement Programs (QIPs) and Capacity Building Programs (CBPs) for professionals and students are focused areas.”