Combining both sides of the brain and promising graduate career prospects that are both personally fulfilling and financially rewarding, architecture degrees are a highly popular and competitive choice. Blending art, science and technology, the subject requires the development of an interdisciplinary skillset – drawing on elements of mathematics and engineering, combined with creativity and an understanding of modern technologies, social issues and cultural trends.
What is architecture?
So then, what is architecture? Architecture is the art and science of designing and engineering large structures and buildings. Those who choose to study architecture will have enthusiasm for both the sciences and the arts, and architecture admissions requirements typically consider both artistic ability and mathematical proficiency.
Architects design structures fit for human use and therefore are largely responsible for the safety and reliability of these structures, so students must be prepared to study for a relatively long period before becoming a fully fledged, licensed architect. Although regulations of architecture licensing vary from region to region, often you will have to commit to at least five years of study (bachelor’s and master’s degree levels) and two years of practical work experience.
If asked to answer the question “what is architecture?” many people might simply say that architects design buildings. However, architecture careers often involve a much more varied workload. Much of the time, a practicing architect at a small- to medium-sized firm will also be involved in planning, budgeting, handling financial accounts, negotiating with contractors, ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations on site, and preparing specifications for materials and workmanship.
What to expect from architecture degrees
Undergraduate architecture degrees will teach students everything from how a beam works to how to accurately draw 3D designs, both by hand and using computer programs. The bulk of your studies are likely to be based in a studio for design work, combined with tutorials and critique lessons. The critique sessions, otherwise known as ‘crits’, are sessions in art and design education where a student presents work to tutors and fellow students, and then receives feedback on that work.
Students of architecture courses will also attend lectures on history, theory and technology as well as computer-aided design tutorials, which aim to provide students with proficiency in various design programs to help them complete individual projects. Essays are also a staple of architecture degrees, as are frequent site visits to important buildings and places of architectural interest.
Those who study architecture at undergraduate level will graduate in three to four years with a BA or BSc depending on the program. In the UK this bachelor’s qualification will usually include the ARB/RIBA (Architects Registration Board/Royal Institute of British Architects) Part 1 examinations, which you need before taking the Part 2 examinations (often included within a Masters in Architecture) and Part 3 examinations (a further postgraduate degree or relevant experience). These ‘parts’ are the official ARB/RIBA requirements which all training architects are required to gain in addition to practical experience.
After completing all the necessary stages in your country, you’ll be a licensed architect with a BArch or DipArch qualification depending on the course.