Architecture is all about combining arts with utilitarian methods to build your dream space. Engineering overlaps with history and creativity, and infused with liberal doses of socialism. The Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU) is a one-of-its-kind university in the state. It focuses on training aspiring architects and laying the foundation well so as to ensure an aesthetic and well-planned topography in the country. “The focus in the state has shifted from de-rigueur courses such as medicine and engineering to architecture. While there are a number of colleges in neighbouring states, Andhra Pradesh has few colleges, which offer a course as specialised as architecture,” says Prof Kavita Daryani Rao, registrar of the university.
JNAFAU was established in 1940 as part of Nizam College of Fine Arts and Architecture and was established as a separate university in 2008. It prides itself in being the second oldest institute offering a course in architecture in the country after Baroda.
JNAFAU admits 1,000 students across 12 colleges including The School of Planning and Architecture (SPA). The university is also responsible for conducting admissions at Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur.
The skill-sets required for being an architect are different. Hence the system of admissions and teaching methods are unique to this stream. “The awareness is low among students in junior colleges and those pursuing Class XII. Initially, admissions were based on the marks obtained and a special aptitude test conducted at the state-level. Now students have to appear for National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA) and very few are aware of this,” says the registrar. While nearly 2.1 lakh students qualified in the engineering, agriculture and Medical Common Entrance Tests (EAMCET) conducted recently, only about 1,000 students appeared for NATA in Andhra Pradesh. “A lot of students can be pulled into this field, which looks at creativity apart from dealing with engineering, sociology and economics.”
JNAFU also offers four-year BTech courses in facilities and services planning, and digital techniques for design and planning, BDesign with emphasis on interior design, and a host of post-graduate programmes.
For the five-year BArch (general) course at JNAFAU, you need to qualify the NATA examination and course fee is `10,000 per annum. However, for those opting for BTech (planning or digital techniques for design and planning or facilities and services planing) through EAMCET, the state common entrance test, the fee structure is `31,000 per annum, as are other undergraduate courses including BDesign and BArch.
The university holds a Memorandum of Understanding with Universitat of Karlsruhe, Germany, and Polytechnic di Milan, Italy, for student exchange programmes. JNAFAU has also signed up to offer various courses in animation, film and media in collaboration with Annapurna International School of Film and Media and Ramanaidu Film School. “The idea is to consolidate courses as we offer many competent programmes. Finding suitable faculty and bringing them on board is a challenge,” says the registrar.
Infrastructure development including improving design laboratories and raising funds are on top of Kavita’s to-do list. “As of now we only have a boys hostel where the erstwhile campus of SPA was located. We have asked the state government for land allocation and once it comes through, we will look at setting up a fully-residential campus as students of architecture have to work erratically to submit assignments. A girls’ hostel is especially necessary,” adds Prof Kavita. “The course work we offer are on par with any other national university. Faculty positions will be filled with permanent staff once the state government sanctions intake. As of now we have many ad-hoc faculty and guest lecturers who have been with us over a period of time,” said D Vijay Kishore, principal of the university.
The highlight of student activity is the annual convention of National Association of Students of Architecture which brings together students from various architecture colleges in the country to showcase their designs
The campus also provides for an interactive environment and a large number of students bag work offers during internships itself. “Usually we have a database, which connects seniors and juniors and they manage to get through to reputed architectural firms as well as individual architects. We do not have campus placements but at the end of an academic session all students get placed,” adds Kavita.
With the new crop taking on the challenges of growing urban spaces and bringing about a touch of art in sculpted spaces, the institute has a long journey ahead.