Dear Intern, …

When I applied for my first internship, I do remember going out of my way to make an impression at the company I had applied to. I wrote a letter of intent, explaining why this company and how I was seeing myself possibly contributing. (And of course I followed the basics: portfolio as a pdf less than 5mb, with best works only.)

Considering the sheer amount of architectural interns that rush out into the world of ‘professional’ experience, I would assume that a single look at the competition for an internship would make every single one of them go the extra mile, even two… But instead reality is full of surprises and every six month the inbox gets flooded with mails addressed to the general public of architects with “Dear Sir/Dear Madam” and the expectation that phrases like “your esteemed firm” would actually go any distance. More over the lack of grammatical or narrative skills, presentation talent nor respect makes me want to just keep the team we are in the office and not take any trainees.

I do not appreciate to be called ‘Dude’ over chat by an prospective intern. Anyway why the heck are your applying via chat. I also do not really want to download all the 26 individual pages you have attached to your mail.

Until last year I took the time and replied to the worst applications and tried to explain them, what all went wrong in their approach, but I quickly gave up, as the numbers of bad applications increased dramatically.

So what is it that I would like to see? Well it would be a good start, if your mail is written to me only, because that would show some form of dedication towards your planned work with us. And when I say to me only, I mean no CC, no BCC, no mass-mail, where you copy and paste rather bluntly every architects mail-id you can get your hands on, foremost no “Dear Sir/Dear Madam”. If you want to work with us, you should have taken the time to go through our website and then figured out, if the person your are writing to is male or female (hint: the mail-id can also be a reasonably good indicator for the gender). And then once you’ve done that, don’t write me an anonymous application without any character. Please let me know who you are, what your interests are, what is your background. Don’t write what you think I would like to hear. (There is no point in even attempting that.) Well, and if I am honest, I don’t even care what school your from, what semester your in or how many trophies you’ve won in college. Of course there are basic skills you should have, like software, but none of them can’t be learned with a bit of serious commitment. Anyway the actual job of an architect includes such a vast spectrum of jobs, that if you are keen, there is something for you.  All that matters for a great experience for you and us during your internship is, if we get along. Do we aspire for similar things, does the work we do interest you, why do want to be an architect? These are the information that will help you to stand out and us to determine if we are compatible or not. One last thing, and I mentioned it in the beginning, your portfolio should be representing your skill set. It is not a record of what you have done, but the showcase of your best work. If you fill your portfolio with 200 plans, pictures and sketches, no-one will understand what you are trying to show. And please consider if you really want to show your sketching talent, your photography skills or your your other extra curricular activity that just tries way to hard to sell you as a creative person.

Keep it simple. Show your best work, even if it is little. Remember you are a student and no-one expects a full portfolio yet. And just show that you are actually interested…

If you still want to read more about this topic, here’s another interesting article:

Dear Intern, …


I learn every day…

Yesterday a friend asked me, if I was ready to be an architect when I finished architecture school. And I had to give it little thought to give her a straight answer; NO!
Architecture school surely taught me the theories of architecture design, it’s social impacts and importance, the basics of structural engineering and service planning, even the administrative part of the running of an architectural practice, documentation processes, legal groundwork and of course much much more…
Looking back, I am really happy about my studies. Berlin was not only a great city to be in, but the Technical University was a great place to study, with great professors that really tried as much as it was possible to give us field experience through their selection of project work and through their sharing and involvement.
But a few things, maybe they can’t be taught in a university set-up, one will only learn out there practicing architecture.
That also was divided in two different levels of learning for me.
Again still feeling lucky about it, I have worked in large firms, where the in-house policies require you to be organised, your work to be standardized (like drawing standards and styles, presentations etc.) and of course to function in a large team, understanding and respecting hierarchy. I also had some experience working in smaller set-ups. There the work might have been less standardized, but the spectrum of work was endless, compared to the larger companies, where functions are clearly separated. In a smaller set-up I was involved in client interaction, designing, planning and site supervision. And I learned a great deal about architecture there. From a practical point I would even go as far as saying I learned more then anywhere else so far (thanks Fabian).
But then I started on my own. The first time you interact with a client all by yourself, no boss there who can and will cover for you; the first time on site something goes wrong, without the boss who ultimately takes all the responsibility away from you. Suddenly the clients wishes, his budget, his fears, his misunderstandings and in some cases even his lunacy become yours only to deal with! You are in charge. How much is a square foot of polished Kadappa stone flooring? What option do we have for this pergola? Can we build this at 2500 Rs (approx. 30€) a square foot? Are you sure this will work? And sometimes it simply gets tough to go through the fifth round of explanation or selection process. But to be honest, sometimes these questions get to you; sometimes you get hit by a doubt, and you go home and you can’t sleep until you check it the 15th time, until you eradicated that little voice in your head, that keeps asking, “Are you sure?”.
These moments are exactly what one can not be prepared for. Moments when you get a streak of grey hair over night, metaphorically speaking.

I am looking forward to continue to be an architect, as the few things I have to look back to in my only beginning career are all positive. Every pressing deadline, every mistake has turned out to be either a great practice for organisation skills or simply a huge learning opportunity.

So here’s to more design chances, BOQ’s, structural drawings, 3D-visualizations and for most of all, more new people to meet and grow close to, because I guess that’s what architecture really does, it brings people together. Cheers!

The beauty of printed plans

set of working drawings
set of working drawings

A set of working drawings, ready for the site…

How beautiful can printed plans look? Not only that neat plans are loaded with a graceful aesthetic appeal, they also represent our approach towards design. They are the language spoken to transform a vision into manifested reality. They are the mirror of our own aesthetic values. They are in a way the link between “venustas” and “utilitas” (and ideally result in “firmitas”).
It makes us feel good to have created something. The creation comes to life in form of matter the first time when it is printed, when it becomes hardware, and when it leaves the virtual space of a cad-file and can actually be touched. And when it comes to working drawings it also represents the end of an era. The end of nights and days, weeks of design process, revisions and changes and options. They are the result of a long, sometime tedious, sometimes enlightening process of decision making. I can’t help it but to feel that it has a romantic notion in it…

Ormakalum Swapnangalum

Ormakalum Swapnangalum

A scene from a feature film Michael played in.

Here the article in the hindu.

Here the very frist trailer.

The little things in life…


Heritage bungalows in Bangalore

Promenade Rd in Cleveland Town, between Coles park and Coles Rd

I could not resist to write about it, as it makes me sad, seeing these beautiful buildings decaying…

Interesting workshop coming up…

check it out here…


Welcome to mgp, Architecture and Design.

This blog is created to feature current and past architectural works.

Currently he closely collaborates with Duststudio (formerly BuildAur) in the International City of Auroville in South India and diverse artists across all fields from Germany and India.