In 1999, the Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Design (FOAPD) was set up at Integral University’s campus. Initially known as the Faculty of Architecture, the institute offered a five-year Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture to provide quality architectural education to a broader number of students. It introduced a plethora of undergraduate programs, namely B.Arch, B.Plan, B.Design (Product and Interior design), and B.Des (Fashion Design), while the higher degree programs included M.Arch and M.Plan. In addition, from 2019, the institute also started offering PhD programs. Later, it was renamed the Faculty of Architecture, Planning and Design (FOAPD).
“Being the oldest cynosure imparting architectural education in any private university of the state; we realise our responsibility to deliver the best,” states Prof. S. W. Akhtar, Chancellor and Founder, Integral University, Lucknow. Owing to the institution’s excellent teaching standards and its resonating outcomes, Architecture Department ranked 35th all over the nation among top architectural colleges for the session 2020-21 by OUTLOOK’s all India Survey conducted by Times of India. Moreover, FOAPD ranked 27th in India and 2nd in Uttar Pradesh among private architectural colleges by the Indian Institutional Ranking Framework (IIRF) – 2022. India Today ranked the institute as 31st in India and 3rd in Uttar Pradesh. The institute’s faculty was rated 4th in the Northern Region of India by the Global Human Resource Development Centre (GHRDC) Ranking 2019.
A Campus with Modern Facilities & Well-Equipped Infrastructure
Located in Lucknow, the campus of Integral University is spread over 121 acres, with FOAPD accommodating 3,000 sq mt of the built-up area. The campus of Integral University is home to a diverse academic community of more than 11,000 students, faculty, and staff from across the nation and the world. It has various state-of-the-art, wi-fi-enabled facilities in academic zones, supported by spaces like a central auditorium complex, a medical college with a hospital, ambulances, sports facilities, gymnasium, canteens, hostels, faculty residences etc.
Likewise, the FOAPD institute houses studios built to meet the Council of Architecture’s (CoA) standard criteria from where students obtain a fundamental understanding of architectural design and are introduced to essential concerns that drive the social and physical production of the built environment. Similarly, there are a fully-equipped material museum, climatology, surveying and construction yard, model making, and graphic hall laboratories for students’ experimental learning. “Our hands-on learning environment fosters a culture of inquiry, experimentation, and creative expression, thereby preparing our students for the future as architects,” asserts Prof. S. W. Akhtar.
An Expert Team of Talented Teachers
“Our faculty is our most valuable resource, with impeccable credentials, vast expertise and experience in their professions, and a strong commitment to their students’ well-being. And that is one of the main reasons why students choose Integral University for architecture,” states Prof. Zeba Nisar, Dean, FOAPD. All of these professors are licenced architects themselves who are members of a variety of national and international professional organisations such as the Institute of Indian Interior Designers (IIID), Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), Institute of Town Planners, India (ITPI), Lucknow Architects Association, ISHRAE etc. At present, the institute has 31 faculty members, comprising of full time and visiting faculty.
The faculty of FOAPD are also actively engaged in research with their project outcomes published in various peer-reviewed national and international journals indexed in SCOPUS, Web of Science, UGC Care, etc., with high-impact factors. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, the faculty members also mentor and advise students in their academic, research, and athletic/cultural endeavours. Moreover, there are visiting experts from the academic and corporate worlds who give students wide exposure to a variety of architectural perspectives. FOAPD also works with different NGOs for social welfare like Srijan Welfare Society.
Nurturing Industry-Academia Collaborations
According to Prof. Zeba Nisar, the institute encourages its students to participate in competitions, institutional consultancy, and summer & practical training to bridge the gap between academia and industry. The curriculum of FOAPD itself includes a mandatory summer and practical training in which the students prepare their portfolio and send it to renowned architectural firms all over the globe for internships. This helps the students receive the sort and range of practical experience that will prepare them for their future responsibilities as soon as they finish the degree courses.
At regular intervals, joint studio projects are organised by FOAPD with the fellow institutes to enhance interaction among the students of different institutes and provide an interface for sharing knowledge and expertise. Similarly, seminars/conferences/ faculty induction programmes are organised in collaboration with different institutes and bodies such as the Institute of Town Planners, UP Chapter, India, NIASA, Council of Architecture, UPNEDA, GIZ under MoHUA, India etc. Renowned speakers are invited from the industry to deliver expert lectures and collaborate with the department as visiting faculty.
Besides these, FOAPD has signed MoUs with Uttar Pradesh New & Renewable Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) and the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) to make its students aware of subjects like energy conservation and environmental concerns. In addition, FOAPD’s students have participated in distinct design & architectural competitions and other co-curricular activities and excelled in them. Two students of FOAPD, Sameer Ashraf and Sharan Chaterji, won certificate of merit in the North Zone for National Award for Excellence in Architectural Thesis-2021 and JK AAYA Best Architecture student of the Year Award hosted by Council of Architecture.
An Abode for Research & Innovation
The teachers of FOAPD construct and structure a curriculum that allows students to explore their creativity in meaningful, engaging, and worthwhile ways. Students are also rewarded for their creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. For instance, the students’ work on Redevelopment of Qaiserbagh Complex was published in the form of Book, which is now available on amazon for sale.
Furthermore, an ‘Idea Development’ program is set up by FOAPD to understand the creative process as viewed by the architectural community, how technologies can function, develop a model for the generation of ideas and establish a research initiative for the ideas of the future. The students are engaged in providing innovative solutions for the architectural problems assigned to them. This platform also empowers them to establish their own start-ups in the field and work towards improving society. The FOAPD institute also has a separate research team whose goal is to encourage and motivate students to take an interest in research projects.
Supporting Self-Reliant India Campaign
In October 2019, the Centre for Incubation & Entrepreneurship Development (CIED) was established by Integral University to promote, encourage, and incubate new enterprises, particularly technology-based start-ups, catering innovative products and services. This initiative was taken to support the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” mission of the Govt of India.
Under CIED, a unique entrepreneurship program called ‘Start-up Pathshala’ (New Enterprise Creation) and Cohort 2.0 Pre-Incubation Campus Drive were launched. The students of FOAPD have submitted their-start up proposals to the CIED cell, which will be assessed by the concerned authorities. Students are also made industry-ready by engaging them in developing designs for on-campus live projects where they can understand the issue and suggest a solution accordingly.
An Impressive Student Placement Record
As part of their curriculum, FOAPD’s students must complete 6 months of required practical training with a recognised company in India or overseas. During the training period, students are offered employment by possible employers, or they decide to create their own businesses. Additionally, the institute’s Centre for Career Guidance and Development (CCGD) team identifies the students’ strengths through systematic interventions and prepares & exposes them to varied opportunities across the private and public sector, further education, international options, and entrepreneurship.
Some of the past companies that recruited FOAPD’s students include H S Contractor Consultancy Pvt Ltd, ARCOP, Sangath, ARCOHM, Morphogenesis, Charles Correa Foundation, A J Atlier, Studio Lotus, etc. Students from previous batches have also been accepted in prestigious national (IITs, NITs, NIDs, & Central Universities) and international (Politecnico di Milano, Italy, Germany, England, etc.) institutions for further studies.
Scholarships Making Education Easier to Access
Integral University is an active member in fighting for the fundamental right to education for children. The University regards scholarships as a means to empower students’ academic and career goals by removing the financial barrier and giving them more time to study, gain knowledge, secure better grades, and look for opportunities for skill development and knowledge enhancement.
As a result, Integral University provides numerous scholarships, namely merit-based scholarships, alumni scholarships, staff scholarships, Jammu & Kashmir scholarships, North-Eastern Region scholarships, and progression scholarships.
Overcoming the Pandemic Times
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, FOAPD shifted to online learning platforms. However, because architectural education differs from other streams and textbook cultures, it became difficult for faculty and students to adapt to these techniques. To resolve this challenge, Integral University introduced Integral Learning Management System (LMS) interface, which was used by the faculty and students for online classes, uploading learning materials, presentations, assignments, attendance and continuous assessment. Moreover, students were also given access to Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Digital Library, an e-learning portal by Govt of Uttar Pradesh.
Likewise, FOADP organised online webinars, seminars, conferences etc., at national and international levels with other institutes and industries to brief students on the holistic approach to design thinking. The students of FOAPD also became well-versed with the architectural and presentation software, which became an effective medium for presenting their work online. This platform aided in the students’ soft skill development and is now seen as an advantage arising from the pandemic.
The Need for Urgent Reforms in Architectural Education
Dr Safiullah, Head of the Department, FOAPD, feels that architectural projects must be viewed as societal challenges requiring a more profound and thorough response rather than just worries about concrete, steel, and glass, necessitating a multidisciplinary approach. He adds, “We should develop a system that encourages new, intriguing, and meaningful environments while also caring for our students’ and faculty’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”
In the coming days, FOAPD plans to develop new approaches in teaching methodology, improve curricula, and make advancements in the post-pandemic learning arenas and digital environments.