About the Author: Ankit Kokil, a student of NIT Calicut, talks about how he got an internship in Spain with his perseverance and how the experience provided him insights into the industry.
Developing a well-composed design portfolio and then fetching an internship is something every architecture student looks forward to. I’m a person who likes to take risks and responsibilities for the work which has always given rise to the challenging spirit within me. During the third year of my graduation, I took responsibility of being the unit secretary, NIT, Calicut, to represent the college at National Association of Students of Architecture and headed the college contingent for the 57th Annual NASA Convention, held in Chennai in 2015. Since my early days as an architecture student, I had a dream of doing an international internship. Later, I realised about the skills and efforts needed to reach that level; however, that idea still persisted at the back of my mind.
At the convention, we took part in various competitions but our team’s eye was firmly fixed on the Affordability trophy, for which NASA India had collaborated with University Camilo Jose Cela, Madrid. The trophy had a prize of 3000 euros along with an internship in Madrid for two students of the team. The trophy was about Housing for All: Best Practices, Rethinking Affordability in Economic and Environmental Terms. We were very confident since the beginning and knew that we were the ones who were going to win it; however, due to unprecedented circumstances after getting shortlisted in the top 5, the host college failed to contact us for the final round of interview. I was totally unaware of these events as I was in a meeting with the council members of all the colleges. However, during the meeting, I received a call from Anupama Kundoo, an internationally acclaimed architect who had introduced this trophy and was the main curator for the same; she explained to me about the events that had taken place. I left the meeting and went to meet her. After hearing the irresponsible work the host college had done, I kept my calm and handled the situation. Understanding the need of the hour, I called up my team members and solved all the issues in a couple of minutes. After handing over my team to Anupama mam for the interview, I went back to the meeting where I was very angry and furious on the kind of mismanagement that had taken place which could have cost us the winning opportunity. After all the hustle-bustle, our team ended up winning the trophy and the citation for the competition. Our entry showcased fine work, quality content, beautiful composition, and an excellent physical model. In the same convention, I personally participated for the GRIHA trophy where I had to design a group housing complex for 6000 people for Lotus Green Developers. In that event, I secured Jury’s Recommendation Special Mention Award. The jury was impressed with my presentation technique and the thought process I had followed to achieve the final output. I was further invited to present the entry at the 6th Annual GRIHA Summit, New Delhi. While returning to college, I thought about thanking Anupama mam personally, and so I sent her a message on Facebook. In a couple of days, I received a reply from her. After an engaging conversation, impressed with the way I had handled the situation earlier, the seriousness and dedication that I had shown, and my efforts in the competition, she offered me an internship at Anupama Kundoo Architects, Spain.
I was exposed to research work, model making, office management, and drafting. My research project was – affordable toilet using Ferro cement material. During the initial phase of the project, I researched on Ferro cement as a material (its properties, behavioural study, seismic properties, etc.). After completing the initial sketches and a series of discussions, I developed a 3D model of the prototype. Also, I was given the responsibility of creating the draft and sending emails from the office to clients and other collaborators and to inform the architects about the emails. Model making and drafting were carried out for the Proposed Mass Housing Complex where I was given the task of creating different housing alternatives, clustering of the masses, and physical model making. It was a healthy learning experience as I learnt the way things come into being on such a large scale. My research project was completed in 2016 and displayed at Venice Architecture Biennale, 2016.
I majorly learnt about the office culture and the way things happened – the paperwork that is carried out, interacting with the clients, generating good quality work, enhancing software skills, and the importance of model making. One day, I and Anupama mam went to buy lunch during the break hours, and there in the grocery store, she started to show me the different ways in which modelmaking could be done with different food items for various project stages. This was an affordable and sustainable way to save the cost of materials. One of the rare opportunities I got was to participate in a portfolio speed dating competition where some architecture students from Spain presented their work. Each participant got the opportunity to showcase his/her work to the jury, students, and artists and got reviews from eminent architects. That event was an eye-opener for me. The kind of work that the international students presented left me awestruck and motivated me to learn more and improvise my work. After this internship, the quality of my drawings improved, and there was a proper workflow in my design process from the sketch design to the final presentation drawings. This internship, to me, was like an oasis for a thirsty soul. It changed my perspective and approach towards architecture and gave me a much-needed direction.
Motivated by Ankit’s endeavors and perseverance? Apply to these cool architecture internships and get an insight into the industry yourself.
Editor’s note – If you also have an interesting story to share, you can now participate in Your Internship Story Contest 2017 and win cash prizes and goodies worth INR 1 Lac!