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Katherine Shonfield

If you get hold of this month's copy of Men's Health , you will unearth, in between articles on 'Why your fridge makes you fat', and 'Sex: teach her a few new tricks', a piece which asserts the diametric difference between an affinity for words and an affinity for the visual. To those who are better with pictures than words, and to whom reading is 'not their strong point', it recommends architecture as a profession.

How useful is this familar opposition? The recent Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy trained as an architect. Her book, The God of Small Things , reveals a similarity of sensibility with one of the most well known of architectwriters, Thomas Hardy. Whereas the work of other writers, such as Trollope or Waugh, is marked by self-consciously 'architectural' description, it is remarkable that, as writers who were actually trained as architects, Hardy and Roy concerned themselves with architecture as integral to landscape.

Among the many frustrated architects of literature, what Edwin Clayhanger, the creation of the Edwardian novelist Arnold Bennett, craves is the way building even the most simple house involves the goodwill and concentrated expertise of an immense variety of people. It is the envy of those engaged in detached pursuits for a profession that is deeply integrated in, and important to, the everyday world.

The proper respect due to a practical and creative pursuit is indicated in the word 'trained', carefully chosen in Roy's publicity. This is obvious when you substitute the words 'studied medicine' for 'trained as a doctor'. Study is the expected experience of anyone in nonmanual work. Outside the myopia of our own unconfident world, it is obvious that training signifies a superior thing to study: competence to practice.

We should be well aware of this before we allow non-practising professional studiers to finally take over architectural teaching.

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