Q&A with Professor Gokay Deveci

Gokay Deveci, from RGU’s Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, talks about the importance of architecture in the curriculum, the changing landscape of the profession and tips for those about to embark on their career.

Gokay Deveci1)    Why do you think it is important to introduce architecture into the curriculum?

I have often borrowed Winston Churchill’s quote, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us”, as I believe the value of good design is understood to affect our streets and infrastructure and support our economy by creating attractive and inspirational places where people want to live and work. The more of us who participate in debating, shaping and mending the cities we live in, the better they will be and the more reflective of our communities they will be too. 

Architecture is everywhere, but nobody teaches kids how to understand and enjoy the built environment.  Teaching school children how to observe, understand and enjoy the built environment will open their minds towards a more creative way of thinking and prepare them to play an active role as citizens of a sustainable future.

I think it’s a fundamental problem that the built environment is not being sufficiently taught about in Scotland’s primary and secondary schools. Therefore, an urgent call is needed for Architecture along with understanding of ‘place’ should be taught across the curriculum as early as possible.

2)   Do you think that by doing so, we can affect change on the built environment?

Education is part of a major cultural change that is needed to make proactive planning and high-quality design a normal and accepted part of our society. The goal is to inspire school children to see themselves as consumers and producers of architecture, guiding them to value shared ownership of their communities’ built environments. At RGU and within the Scott Sutherland School we are proactively looking at ways to influence the educational system, promoting our subjects and areas within schools across the country.

It will bring architecture and design into classrooms.  It is about learning design principles, observation techniques, model-making, mapping, illustrated planning, and how architecture contributes to our communities and quality of life.

3)    What made you get into architecture?

As the saying goes: “Choose a job you love and will never have to work a day in your life.”

For me it was accidental and I found out that I love what I do, but I also find that it takes lots of commitment.

The short answer is, I always loved the idea of creating something permanent and something that impacts people on one level or another. The chance to create a part of a city, a public building, a house, or even a beautiful room, is an incredible opportunity and somewhere my grandchildren can visit.

4)    How has the practice changed since you started out?

Gone  are the days of the ‘maestro' sitting at his drawing board dreaming up brave new towns for the post-war world. Since the 1950s, the Architects’ position at the top of the pyramid has been slowly eroded by the proliferation of sub-consultants for every stage of the process, as well as the rise of contractor-led forms of procurement, in which the architect is often side-lined altogether. 

I agree with the statement that ‘architecture is the only profession that is at the heart of creating spaces where we want to be - from living to working to interacting with each other’. 

However, the profession needs to establish leadership and management skills as well as a change in architectural culture and working with others, both in practice and academia, learning from each other and integrating these skills into the design process.  I believe the profession also needs to continue to invest in innovative technologies and explore design solutions that satisfy ever-changing consumer demands.

For example, in the UK, less than 10 per cent of new housing stock is designed by an architect. We need a high quality, attractive and efficient built environment that can meet changing needs.  The profession is trained and capable of meeting this demand. 

In my own research-based practice, we are looking at developments in energy efficiency, airtightness, virtual reality, performance prediction and modular construction enabled with information technology.

I think by embracing a multi-disciplinary approach alongside digital technology, the profession can contribute the art and the science of architecture to projects to deliver outstanding and unprecedented innovation in the building Industry.  

There is a strong view within the industry that it needs to be a radical change in architectural education, starting with consolidating the course into a tighter timeframe and opportunities for work-based learning.

5)    Advice to young architects or those thinking about architecture as a career?

What can be better than a chance to create a part of a city, a public building, a house, or even a beautiful room – it’s an incredible opportunity!

The built environment is a reflection of society and by studying architecture it will change your view of the world. You are really selecting a vocation that will span a lifetime

Architectural Design is about understanding problems and imagining possibilities. So key skills include problem-finding, analysis, imagination, problem-solving, 3D thinking, scenarios, synthesis and presentation.  

Finally, it takes a lot of commitment and desire to become an architect!


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