The era of university corridors lined with doors that open into tiny classrooms, artfully decorated with posters, inspiring quotes and research ideas on scraps of paper may be over. A wave of new building work has followed the trend for open-plan study paces, complete with soft seating, breakout areas and numerous hubs. Bringing this change to India is Pune based Satish Misal Educational Foundation's Brick Group of Institutes, a centre for creative architecture learning. With open format spaces - some expansive, some cosy - the college looks more like an architectural museum than a traditional brick and mortar educational institution. At the SMEF's Brick Group of Institutes, students and teachers can change the space to meet their needs - even they conduct classes on the rooftop - and learning is highly individualized.
"We have designed our college in the way that it enhances creativity and the students would not feel that they are confined within four walls of a room," says Pooja Misal, Executive Director, SMEF's Brick Group of Institutes. What makes Brick Group of Institutes different from the other educational establishments in the country is its vibrant atmosphere that provides students with a unique inspiring environment to pursue creative learning. The institute offers an integrated suite of resources that supports academic progress and experimentation. These include some of the most advanced design labs, computer facilities with all the necessary software to support the school's curriculum and a library dedicated to the study of design and related services. Extensive workshop spaces, technology equipped classrooms, amphitheatre, open to sky courtyards and leisure areas form an integral part of the campus infrastructure of the Brick Group of Institutes.
The faculty members of the Brick Group of Institutes bring along a great deal of experience, expertise and knowledge.
Today, the Brick Group of Institutes offers an undergraduate programme in architecture, a course named Research Driven Interior Design and a good number of short-term courses that are not just fun and refreshing, but help the learners explore the subject they love in greater depth and perspective and can be added to their repertoire of knowledge. The institute's Bachelor of Architecture programme, which is affiliated to the syllabus of the University of Pune, is planned and coordinated endeavour to ensure that the aspiring professionals are equipped through a set of modules spread over five years. "Each year, there will be mix of subjects taught under each laboratory and the mix and proportion of the modules will vary as per the stage of progress. Each module will also have its internal component of knowledge sharing, which will help trigger thinking, sensitization towards technical rules and skill building. Overall, the programme will encourage students to explore through application and creating," explains Pooja.
The Research Driven Interior Design (RDID), which has an intake of 40 students, is another full time autonomous diploma programme conducted by the Brick Group of Institutes. In this 3-year course, the institute imparts basic knowledge for future practice and the course framework of RDID aims at helping students develop their talent and inculcate a reflective, critical, socially observant attitude. "As a premier school, we offer students a variety of electives, ranging across steams. These are conducted by leading artists, designers, craftsmen and other professionals invited from the industry," adds Pooja. The Brick students are free to select from a range of electives offered, as per their inclination. These electives, research projects and dissertation together in the final year provide an opportunity for students to develop their skills and integrate their cognitive, practical, creative capabilities to produce a major project.
"Our programs are designed to shape tomorrow's architects and interior designers with global knowledge, innovative thought processes, and be socially responsible. We aspire to be the centre for innovation and change, making the world a better place," says Pooja. Working hard under the leadership of Pooja for the fulfilment of her extra-ordinary vision is a team of highly experienced faculty members who are not only academicians but also practising professionals in the design industry. The faculty members of the Brick Group of Institutes bring along a great deal of experience, expertise and knowledge. They are prominent in their respective fields and most of them hold masters degrees. They have presented papers or won several accolades in their pursuit. "Aligned with our philosophy of emphasis on practical learning, our mentors are practising professionals from the field of architecture and interior design. They bring a pragmatic perspective to their teachings and their qualifications, understand and keen interest in teaching will develop professionals that are sensitive to the environment and equipped for real-life work challenges," claims Pooja.
Today, Pooja, one of the youngest educationalists in the country who took on the great task of setting up an institute designed for the progressive India at an age of 25, is in pursuit of building a prefect school - a place where no student could slip through the cracks. While we see a few typical business-minded people are developing numerous private college in every nook and corner of the country, Pooja inspires not only the women of India, but noble people who are passionate about teaching and learning to come forward and start up new schools with holistic educational approach.
Talking about her decision to start a world-class educational institution at a very young age, Pooja says, "After completing her MBA from the Cardiff University, U.K. and course in Financial Management for Non-Profit from the prestigious Harvard University, I knew that I have to contribute something to the society. In India, especially in the Pune, we have many colleges that give education in Engineering, Management, Arts and so on. However, hardly any colleges focus on enriching the creative spirit of our students. It is a tough task and I am up for it." Daughter of Late Satish Misal and Madhuri Misal, Pooja's family has always been a major contributor towards an equitable, humane and sustainable society in India. With a strong education background, Pooja continues to strive for excellence at the institute by constantly evolving the curricula to match global standards, creating an encouraging learning atmosphere and building great architects of tomorrow.
"My intention is to make Bricks a design hub of Maharashtra. In India, design education has not taken seriously, because the majority of us think that designers cannot be highly paid professional like engineering and management," opines Pooja. If everything goes according to her plans, in the next few years, the Brick Group of Institutes will become a one-stop destination for all the creative pursuits. Indeed, Brick starts where other institutions end.
Pooja Misal, Executive Director
The visionary behind Brick Group of Institutes, Pooja credits her success to her inspirational parents, the role of education in her life and her desire to transform the learning industry in India. She has earned her MBA from Cardiff in U.K. and is currently pursuing her PhD in education. She has also completed a course in Financial Management for non-profit from the coveted Harvard University.