Professor RUPINDER SINGHPrincipal, SAL School Of Architecture
B. Arch, M. Arch (MIT, USA), MA, PHD, Princeton USA. HAMBURG, DAAD.
I have often heard in puzzlement as Universities announce that they are systems-driven. I fail to partake of their pride or rationale. At SAL School of Architecture we are proud not to be system-centric but learning-centric. We are people oriented and one of the cardinal foundations of our “system” is that our most important activity is that which takes place between a teacher and a student—whether within a classroom or without; every other activity and everyone else is a support to this cardinal act. Academic enquiry is the crucible of our system and from the beginning to the end we all remain students.
Each of our courses has its own specific pedagogy, methodology and emphasis. But still there are some common qualities. This includes the high quality of our dedicated faculty which has an international outreach, the small intimate size of our program, the emphasis on dialogue outside the classroom and the intensive nature of the yet professional education. Among these I wish to highlight two aspects that I believe make us truly distinct. First is a hands-on, discovery mode of learning— thinking by doing. Rousseau famously noted, “I hate books; they only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about.” We therefore emphasize on concrete doing, of moving forward from concrete problems to solutions and not from abstract principles or rote learning.
This segues into the second aspect. We attempt to go beyond the limited vision of vocational and professional education and also include the tenets of liberal arts education: to think, learn, question and research liberally; freely but in a disciplined manner but without disciplinary boundaries. We emphasize a necessary width of horizon in contrast to a narrow vocational focus and encourage students towards dialog and team-building.
Our school remains global in thinking and vision, but local in the understanding of built practices as well as the concerns of our community. We have participated with alacrity in the Swach Bharath Abhiyan and other endeavors as well as on-site study of the various built communities of Gujarat. We remain focused on the service of our nation and social responsibility, although our benchmarks are truly global. Our vision is that our students will step out confidently not only into a fast growing country but as leaders in a global arena.
I will end with another quote from Rousseau, “the world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” At SAL School of Architecture we have embarked on a boundless journey of enquiry with imagination, discipline and determination. And in a way, it has all been child’s play