Musings on an architecture education…

I got to thinking after the previous post and thought what advice I would give to any budding architecture students, so here goes:

1. Be brave; I went through the entire architecture course without pushing the boundaries on what was possible architecturally. So the advice is to think brave and not be frightened to think big. Amazingly I feel I am more creative now than when I was at college, this is due to now working in Ireland which I will return to in a future blog post.

2. It doesn’t matter what architecture college you go to or the route you take to get there. You may think that you will be more employable by going to specific colleges-False. Some of the best architects in the world went to colleges that we seem to be lower in some way; some even haven’t been to university at all !

What determines your employability is your ability, how hard you can work and produce and how you get on with other people and can work in a team.

The architecture course at it’s minimum (7 years) means that anyone succeeding in qualifying has made a tremendous achievement – it doesn’t matter how you get there. The student obtaining a degree in architectural technology and then completing the full architecture course is the same architect (more qualified in fact) than the leaving cert (Ireland) or A level (UK) student obtaining 550 points or 3 a’s.

3. Do as many courses you can whilst in education-If you’re looking at becoming employable then you’ll need a wide range of skill sets. I always knew I was going to be a self-employed architect (don’t ask me how) but there were courses I could have done at college (Oxford Brookes as you’re asking, Oxford Poly when I was there for Part 1,2 & 3). These are the ones looking back that I should have done but didn’t, but hey, no regrets:

a. Interior Design – could have got accredited with Chartered Society of Designers but didn’t

b. Urban Design – could have got a qualification in Urban Design but didn’t.

4. Keep your mouth shut when asked to do what could be potentially boring job (this is more for when you’re in a job) foolishly said I had an airbrush (in days before computer montages you would colour render drawings by hand and the airbrush could delicately spray paint onto a drawing. I then spent the next month spraying skies onto elevations.

5. If you want to do CAD fine but if you want to be an architect then you’ll need to design. Make sure the courses you do at college are what you want to do when you leave. The course at Oxford was incredibly pluralist and I was lucky to do the things that I loved and wanted to do later. It’s very easy however to be seen as the ‘computer guy’ and spend all your time drawing up and visualising other peoples schemes.

6. Find a place that you’d like to study; you’re going to be a long time at college so you need to enjoy the place. Oxford obviously has incredible benefits for students (as other places have); it’s impossible to get a feel for the place only when you’re there for interview. Why not stay for a long weekend and ask other students there what it’s really like.

7. Really study other architects work, analyse their drawings, do 3D models of their work and then copy parts of them. At college is the time to do a bit of plagiarism; your work will improve as you become spongelike in absorbing ideas and concepts. At secondary school (6th form A level art) we copied a grand master painting (I chose a Da Vinci sketch) – Architecture courses should do the same.

I may be returning to this topic, so stay tuned…(incidentally this entire blog post was written and published by iPhone)

0 thoughts on “Musings on an architecture education…

  1. Item #3: add in marketing and business development. Not an architect we know, including ourselves, received any education about how to run a business or how to market ourselves to potential customers. And oddly enough, so many people want to run their own firm, you’d think this would be touched on a little during 6 years of schooling.

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