Architecture Courses Watch
Any suggestions for the best unis for an architecture course?
“The brutal reality is that the criteria set by the professional bodies is so stringent that, in order to meet their criteria, 95% of content is effectively pre-set, and anyone who pretends otherwise is disingenuous.”
...she continues to explain that each school has a particular “flavour” that’s made up by how they interpret the ARB criteria and by any of the unique extras they can put in around the remaining 5%.
In my own experience schools generally fall into one of three such flavours: those which are fine arts-led, those which are science and/or engineering-led, and those which are design and make-led. This is, it’s important to say, a gross oversimplification; you will absolutely still cover architectural history and theory at an engineering-led school, just as you’ll still need some understanding of building and environmental physics at an arts-led one, and you’ll spend most of your time in studio scribbling on endless rolls of trace wherever you go.
So how do you choose? Beyond the obvious... read the RIBA validation reports (they’ll give some insight into what the RIBA think is a particular strength or weakness of a school) and - perhaps most importantly - go visit if you can. You do not have to go to an open day, in fact it’s often better if you don’t. Reach out to the course leader/programme director and ask if you can pop along for the day; ask to sit in on a lecture or watch things unfold in the studio; spend the rest of the day looking around the city or campus. Above all, decide on the criteria which are most important to you and base your decision on those.
Great thanks for the insight. In terms of your 3 subsections do you have any examples of unis who fall into them?
I imagine most would consider the AA (BA), the Bartlett (BSc) and Edinburgh (MA) as arts-led or conceptual, although all three have excellent workshop facilities for making; the Bartlett is also a big school with a number of programmes, including one focusing on alternative practice (BSc AIS) and another which is entirely engineering-led (MEng). Other schools particularly known for engineering are Bath (BSc), Leeds (MEng) and Nottingham (MEng), with Nottingham also offering an arts and maker-led programme (BArch). Other design and make-led schools include Cardiff (BSc), Dundee (MArch) and Strathclyde (BSc). And then there’s UWE that literally has a programme for everyone (BA, BEng and BSc), and Cambridge which is a bit of everything but especially good for theory and history.
Again, that’s my opinion; you really have to go see for yourself to get a feeling for a school.