Friday, 29 June 2012

What to expect at Architecture School...

Below, our volunteer Eve gives her thoughts after completing her first year of Architecture...

Thinking Architecture...                                                                          
So, you’re thinking of doing architecture. You’ve heard the horror stories: long hours, scary crits, harsh tutors, Diet Coke, Red Bull and Boost addictions - they all apparently make an appearance at some point in your studio life. Well, yes, this has been the case for some people (though, most seemed to enter the course with these quirks already firmly established).

But it's not all bad. And maybe you'll actually grow to enjoy the once “scary crits”, “long hours” and “harsh tutors”.

Are you thinking of studying architecture? Photo by Robin Cordiner.
With that in mind, here are some points providing an insight into what architecture may entail...

The Telling Top 5:                                                                                       

1.     Group Projects:  You are thrown into these from the offset; they teach you how to deal with peers and achieve successful (or not so successful) products. This separates the workers from the dossers and is a great way to help you learn as you work. You learn from your mistakes and although it can be difficult to see others take credit for your work, you will benefit in the long run.
2.     Time management:  So, you’ve heard about the all-nighters and energy drink addictions. Yes, this can be the case if you allow it to. Working steady and often is the best method for relieving stress. Socialising is as much a part of the learning experience as the course is, so…HAVE A LIFE outside of studio!
3.     Crits:  These are the presentation of your work to a group of peers and tutors. They can appear intimidating to begin with, however, practice does make perfect! You are better to be clear and concise, taking a relaxed and conversational approach. Yes, some feedback can be harsh, but, it is usually very valid and justifying your decisions and ideas is key!

4.     Diversity:  You pick up a lot fast on the course. You can start with minimal experience and develop to having a range of well-established skills if you work at it and practice. THINK SPATIALLY!

5.     Have Fun:  This is the most important of all! Make friends with your flatmates, make time to go out, explore the new city you are in and make your projects experimental and fun! Don’t become a social recluse within the first year, it benefits no one! The tutors love to see you enjoying the projects, so find your way to do it!

Architecture just requires you to take the plunge, throw your whole self into uni life and to take it as it comes…stressing and worrying honestly achieves nothing!


For a taster of what is ahead in architecture school, and a great intro to design thinking, the PLACE Urban Design Summer School is one of the best events of the summer - and a unique opportunity for those aged 14-19 to get to grips with architecture, design, planning and public art. It runs from 6th-10th August in Belfast. 

Find out more and book a place at

Students and graduates: have you got any more advice for the aspiring young architects out there? Leave us a comment!

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