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What’s it like studying Architecture at Kent?

What’s it like studying Architecture at Kent?

I was quite intrigued by the how young the School was at that point, but the high regard it had in the industry. It was recommended to me by an architect who I did work experience for. I mean, this year is its 10th anniversary and it’s considered one of the top architecture schools in the country. The support staff here are really fantastic, so it was somewhere that I wanted to go
and study, as it not only fitted my life, but I knew it would be a good course. The degree actually is split up into
various parts because you’ve got your Part 1 where you are learning how to draw and learning the language of architecture. This is how you build, this is how you do detailed drawings, this is how you use computer software. We had a variety of design modules, history modules within our first year. We learnt about engineering and construction. We have a full size scanner which is for scanning site and plot information. We have a Groopman Object Scanner for little objects to get them in mesh forms. And it’s all, kind of, just giving you the different skills to explain your schemes to different kinds of people. Between your bachelors and the MArch you have to go and work for a year in the industry. Essentially, it’s meant to allow you to grow up or test your skills. I was lucky enough to go and work in New Zealand for a year, in a practice out there, before coming
back and completing the MArch – the Stage 2 part of the architecture degree. The Master’s is a lot different from
the undergraduate three-year course. It’s run across two years and the
course is now made up of four units. The Master’s course, as well, gives you a lot more freedom than undergraduate course, so the design side of things which is what dominates the
course, is a lot more independently run by yourself. When you finish, you normally go into another year of practice, before starting doing your final
qualification, which is your Part 3 so you’re better equipped for the workplace, but still not quite fully ready to be an architect. The Shelter Project is a great way for breaking the ice with students. So, they’re meant to develop a structure over the first few weeks with the intent of spending a night sleeping in it. It’s a real make-or-break situation. If it rains and you haven’t worked out the problems, then you’re going to get wet. And if it’s windy and if you haven’t closed all the gaps, you’re going to get cold. So it’s quite a ‘baptism of fire’ into architecture. Each year you have the chance to go on a
trip abroad. First year was Barcelona, second year Paris, third year Berlin, fourth year was my year out. We had a trip to Vienna in the second year, that was incredible. When I came back from Miami, I went to San Francisco and I just came back from a Venice trip! Even when I’m working here, I’m still travelling! And it’s always fascinating to see how
different countries do things, you know every different place has its own vernacular and its own style, and its own building materials. You know, you can’t learn architecture purely off a book, you can read it, you can understand it, but it’s all about how you experience it. It’s like when you sketch something, you don’t just sketch what you see, but you sketch what you experience of the building. We had some large architects come and visit and give us talks, and also some new and upcoming practices. So that was really inspirational. Immediately the students are being introduced in quite a formal/informal way to potential employers. Two people from Farrells came to our end of year show, our final ‘crit’ actually. and they were on my panel so they critiqued me and I got in contact with one of them afterwards and I got asked to come in for an interview. The First Years interact with the Fifth Years and the PhD students and there’s not necessarily, although we have our own spaces,
there’s a blurring of boundaries that allows all of the School to interact. I’m here one day a week working with a particular year group and helping them with a particular project brief which they’re set – how can you develop those schemes, ideas, their concept models and how to best illustrate or represent those ideas. It was just a really beautiful place to
study, and I think that with that and the Kent School of Architecture being really up-and-coming it was just the perfect choice for me. I think primarily, the first thing is that it’s a campus university and that really appealed to me. The library’s two minutes walk, the shops are two minutes walk, and its a self-contained area so it’s a really friendly comfortable place to
learn. That was one of the theories when designing the campus – was to make it like the Oxford and Cambridge college system and it just excited me actually to
see that there was this new young school that had classic foundations. It reassured me that I was gonna be getting a good education, and a modern education. We were told a phrase when we started on the course: ‘we work hard, but we play hard’. I know we are nicknamed ‘the course that doesn’t sleep’ as they are they all walk past our nice windows at two in the morning and see us all sitting over our drawing boards. When all of us are done, the whole school go out, and it is the WHOLE school will go out and not just your group of friends. I obviously want to qualify as an architect eventually and I would love to start my own
practice one day. Doing architecture doesn’t just make you employable in architecture, but it makes you employable in several fields. You get to work out what kind of architect you want to be and then that will help you find out what kind of practice you want to go and work in. Your skills can cross all kinds of boundaries, I suppose but you’ve got to work out, where you want to work and what kind of architect you want to be.

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