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Do not be fooled by how fancy the building is. DO NOT. In fact a good rule of thumb is that the more fancier the building, the less good the school is.

What you’re looking for in an architecture school is a place that has chipped paintwork (from carrying oversize models through doorways) and smells slightly of glue.

Most people visit prospective schools before applying. I visited six. You talk to the admissions tutor, you visit the studios, you peep into the lecture hall and as you walk back to the car/train station, you ponder whether to go there or not. So what criteria do you use to decide?

Facilities

This is not as important as you, your parents, or your teachers might think.

All you really need is a big room with tables in it and a coffee machine. That’s it. If you can find a school with its own art supplies shop that’s great, but not essential.

Some schools have workshop spaces for cutting wood/plastic and rooms full of 3D printers. These are all very well, but if you’re creative you can do a lot with cardboard and glue.

Well Known Professors

Not even slightly important.

With big names come big egos. Architectural projects are marked subjectively and never anonymously. This means that if you clash with your tutor’s big ego you get bad marks all year. Not cool.

Dynamic, creative, interesting tutors will help you develop your own style and your own creative voice rather than train you to be a replica of themselves.

Location

Hugely important. Architects are inspired by the world around them. Choose a city that you find inspiring and that has a strong creative community. Remember that you will spend your free time in this city?—?sitting in its parks, drinking in its pubs, absorbing its atmosphere.

Studio Space

Next to location, this is the most important of all the criteria. Architecture students spend very little time in lecture halls (yay) so what do they do all day? Well, if you choose a school with good studio space you’ll spend the rest of your time in the studio working on your projects. This is awesome for lots of reasons:

  • Inspire and be inspired?—?collaborate.
  • Spend all day with your friends.
  • Build your models in school so that they’re easy to transport to pin-ups.
  • Hang out close to the supplies shop (and the coffee machine)

If you choose a school that doesn’t have a good studio space, you will find that you spend all day sitting in your bedroom alone trying to think of ideas. Eventually you’ll spend more and more time in the pub and nearly fail your degree.

Reputation

Who are you trying to impress? Great architects come from all backgrounds and all schools and you don’t need to go to the *best* school to be successful. However, schools with good reputations usually attract interesting people and you probably want to spend your time with interesting people.

The first architecture school I visited had a room full of lightbulbs on sticks arranged in a neat grid. I decided I didn’t want to go to school with people who thought rooms full of lightbulbs on sticks were cool.

Don’t forget: future employers will be much more interested in your design portfolio than what school you went to.

S

Specialisms

Important to some people. Some schools are particularly strong in certain areas or run interesting specialist courses. If you’re using architecture as a stepping stone to another career you might want to consider getting some specialist training in early on.

Specialisms include: landscape architecture, interior design, urban design, building conservation, environmental design, furniture making, construction engineering, project management.

A

Accreditation

Very important, but only if you want to be a practising architect. I’ve put this last on the list because I think it’s something that every prospective architecture student already knows about. The basic premise is that because architects are regulated in most countries, their training has to be regulated too. Ask the admissions tutor if you’re not sure whether your prospective school is accredited or not.

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2 Comments

Sarah Williams15 hours ago

Is it those building that Francis Corra discuss during WWAC?

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Set RogersSarah Williams15 hours ago

You are right.

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