Let me first clarify the difference between architect and architectural designer, an Architect and an Architectural designer are two different things, an Architect is a licensed professional who has passed the registration exam and an Architectural designer is not a licensed architect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be one of the best in the world, there are great examples of world-famous architects that never went to architectural school, you get Architects that dropped out and still manage to be great, you also meet those that went through the whole formal processes and still are terrible at what they do. I am not saying that you should disregard architecture school, maybe try out these techniques and see if it’s for you.
So is it Possible to Teach Yourself Architectural Design?
No one really teaches themselves anything they don’t know, there’s always someone you learn from whether it’s formal or informal, it used to be that you had to be an apprentice to an architect to even begin to understand the trade, that has all changed over time, mainly because of the internet and deferent online learning sites like skillshare, so I would say yes its possible to teach yourself architectural design, I know ill get a lot of trash for saying that, but its true, you should understand that your knowledge of architecture will not be as vast as the person that went to architecture school, but that in itself can be an advantage and in other cases a disadvantage,
You will get architects saying your a fraud and that your running a scam, they’ll even compare architecture to medical practice, saying things like you can’t teach yourself architecture just like you can’t teach yourself medicine, the two comparisons don’t make any sense at all, which shows you the ego on some people, there’s a large number of architectural designers out there proving the wrong daily, there are also a large number that makes that statement look genuine, one argument I always get is that the safety and welfare of the public should also be considered when designing a building, which is true, and that is why working with a structural engineer is very important, you as an architect can design the most beautiful building, but that building needs to go through structural integrity checks and you will not be the person doing them whether self-taught or formally educated,
These are but a few you’ll hear along your journey and they don’t have architecture degrees. I will also point out that most of these guys had mentors, but no need to worry you’ve got the internet.
Where to start your Architectural design Journey?
There are 2 ways you can go about becoming a self-taught architectural designer, the first is the software route an the other is the architectural subject matter itself. let’s look at both methods below, another thing you should know is that you should have some type of drawing skill, we’ll look at why a bit later.
Architectural Design Software
The fastest way to learn how is to use design software, there are countless tutorials on different architectural software on the internet and these tutorials always come with an example building that is broken down throughout the tutorial, a good example is the Autodesk Revit Architecture Masterclass: A Complete Guide for Beginners, in this course you learn how to take a project from start to finish even if you never touched Revit or any other CAD based software before, another one you can try is the AutoCAD Course – From beginner to Certified or the ARCHICAD 22: Beginner and Intermediate Level tutorial, you will get an insight on architectural drafting and at the same time know the software used by many practices around the world. a bonus is that the instructors have been in the industry for a long time and thus can give you easily digestible information, you will most likely start with small residential extensions before you even do anything remotely big.
Your drawing skills will also play a huge part in your journey to become a self-taught architectural designer, there’s so much information on how to skets like an architect online all you have to do is a google search, my favorite is, Sketch Like an Architect: Step-by-Step from Lines to Perspective by David Drazil.
Architectural Design Subject Matter
This path takes a little more time but is the one that’s got more reward at the end, you start with architecture history, and move down to different design styles, reading and understanding construction drawings, understanding material properties, and a lot more, The internet is full of books on architecture, you need to understand what you read, if not you’ll be wasting a lot of time on something that you won’t use, understanding architecture itself will make working with other people in the industry a little better, you’ll also be on the same page as them whether they went to architecture school or not, I know I said that the software route is faster but knowing how to use Photoshop does not make you a world-class editor, knowing the theory and having an eye for design gets you there, so take your time read up on architecture look at what others in the industry did and are doing, and you’ll get there.
Do not be discouraged when an architect tells you that your work is crap, all you have to do is to look at their portfolio and you’ll understand why they are so grumpy, these are people that traditionally do not like each other and are under the impression that they are the chosen ones, the times we live in is more exciting than it used to be, anybody can be anything, so go for it, and that what they tell their own kids, you’ve got nothing to lose, do it now before AI becomes a thing and takes over this industry too, now that’s a debate starter for another day.
Everything in this post is my opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt,