Sunday, 7 September 2014

How to become an architect in the uk

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New Release in Paperback - the two books under one cover - Architecture "Education" - for sale now on Amazon - includes 15 Reasons NOT to study Architecture and Brick Wall (my autobiography).

DON'T embark on any RIBA validated course  anywhere in the world without reading this first.

Note: Architecture schools around the world are taking notice of this book - the length and cost of the course being a hot topic. Qualified architects and architecture students past and present send messages to Moira with their own stories and thank her for speaking out

Architect Patrick Lynch (, Sept 2013) poses the question, "Where would you safely send your child to study architecture in the UK? Answer: nowhere if you can help it." He argues, "is isn't a system; it's a lucky dip."

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This blog has been created to compliment an autobiographical book called Brick Wallwhich criticizes for good reason the highly subjective system of training architects in the uk. It is also a story about overcoming adversity and keeping going when it feels like the whole world is against you, which can be a common feeling on the architecture course. Some schools are better than others but, they ALL operate the same warped system of assessment.

The architecture schools I have attended in chronological order are: 

1. Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art (GSA) in Scotland.
2. Dundee University in Scotland.
3. Newcastle University in England.

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Don’t head off to university without reading 15 Reasons NOT to study Architecture; it encompasses a lot of research into architectural education past and present and is condensed down into bite sized chunks taken from articles on this blog. 

The opinions of current architecture students and practising architects gathered from various sources are included in an appendix at the end of both books.

Please note: The only reason Moira has written any of this down is to save other people suffering the same misery she and countless others have suffered at the hands of a brutal, unfair educational system that has been wrecking lives for decades. But don't just take her word for it - do your own research.

Feel free to contact Moira if you have been similarly affected (you are not the first and you won't be the last). It is no disgrace to fail the architecture course at any institution, on the contrary it demonstrates intelligence and a questioning mind.

Book for Architecture Students - the one they don't want you to read

Another interesting book for architecture students is The Favored Circle, by Garry Stevens, a former Research Associate in the Department of Architectural and Design Science at the University of Sydney. The following it taken from his book description on Amazon.

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A look a what truly determines the success of an architect 

"The popular view of architecture focuses on individual creative geniuses, those who have designed the most "significant" works. According to Garry Stevens, however, successful architects owe their success not so much to genius as to social background and a host of other factors that have very little to do with native talent. To concentrate only on the profession of architecture, which structures the entire social universe of the architect and of which architects are only one part. This book critically surveys that field, exposing many myths and debunking a number of heroes in the process."

Note: I have no connection with the author of this book other than that I agree with his findings.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

architecture school rankings uk 2014

architecture school rankings uk
GSA entrance
photo by Moira
architecture school rankings uk 2014 dundee, gsa, newcastle

There are now 46 architecture schools in the uk. Wow. And each school take around 100 students. That's a lot of people training to be architects. I've studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture now known as Glasgow School of Art (currently ranked 27 and joint 3rd in AJ 100 opinion poll), the University of Dundee (ranked 25) and Newcastle University (ranked 5).

I didn't find it hard to get accepted at an architecture school, it's was getting out the other end with a degree certificate that turned into a real challenging nightmare. Every student thinks they'll get through university okay if they work hard enough. Unfortunately this isn't the case on this unique course. Sadly, students of architecture are regularly failed at the end of first, second, third, fourth, even fifth year and some vague reason given. And it isn't always the most talented ones they let through; if they don't like you they can fail you, simple as that.

And the most sickening thing of all is that, while most students work day and night, some individuals sail through the course handing in work produced by a 3rd party, usually someone in a higher year or even a qualified archtiect who has provided his/her services for free eg. a relative or boyfriend/girlfriend or the student pays someone to do their drawings for them. So, don't think for a minute it is an even playing field.

I have written about my own experiences as an architecture student in a book called BRICK WALL for sale on Amazon. Clearly not a comedy, but it's an interesting insight into how architecture schools in the uk operate and believe it's roughly the same system the world over.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Architecture Schools UK

Tuition fees now £9,000
a year in England
Architecture Schools UK

101 Things I Learned in architecture school by Moira M. Malcolm
  1. How to waste my talents.
  2. How to survive on little sleep.
  3. How to waste money. 
  4. How to feel helpless.
  5. How to learn so little year after year.
  6. How to lug around a lot of stuff.
  7. How to teach myself technical drawing.
  8. How to draw bricks.
  9. How to use a scalpel knife.
  10. How to try so hard to create nothing of any use.
  11. How to cry hysterically.
  12. How to repeat third year.
  13. How to become unemployable.
  14. How to.... 
... You get the drift.

Feel free to add any comments below and be the first to contribute to this blog.

If you're considering applying to architecture school, then you should read my  book, BRICK WALL beforehand. An easy read with a hard message - architecture schools are not healthy places for young people to be.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

women in architecture - Architect's Journal 6 Feb 2013

women in architecture and why they leave it

Women in architecture

The RIBA did commission research to find out why there are so few women in architecture. 
Why do women leave architecture? by Ann de Graft-Johnson, Sandra Manley and Clara Greed - University of the West of England, Bristol, May 2003 
The key findings were: 
“UWE found that there was no definitive answer to the central question. A number of identifiable problems did however come to light. The reasons why women left tended to be a combination of a number of factors and or a ‘final straw’ moment. Some of the key issues are as follows:
  • Low pay
  • Unequal pay
  • Long working hours
  • Inflexible/unfamily friendly working hours
  • Sidelining
  • Limited areas of work
  • Glass ceiling
  • Stressful working conditions
  •  Protective paternalism preventing development of experience
  • Macho culture
  • Sexism
  • Redundancy and or dismissal
  • High litigation risk and high insurance costs
  • Lack of returner training
  • More job satisfaction elsewhere
There was little evidence that women left because they were incompetent designers or that they no longer wanted to be architects.” 
One respondent had written, “At the *** School of Architecture, the attitudes of certain tutors towards averagely talented members of my class was dismissed and utterly shocking. I was lucky I had the strength of character to come out of the course relatively unscathed. I saw three highly intelligent individuals suffer a complete breakdown in confidence due to the tutors on this course. You could pass every other aspect of the course with 100 per cent, but if your design work was not favoured, you were left to rot. I cannot stress strongly enough how favouritist this school is. It is not a sexist issue, but a taste issue in terms or what design style is “flavour of the month” with certain tutors.”
I would add to the list above that sometimes, like me, there are just failed unfairly and thereby kept out of the profession.

During my time at architecture school there was not one female tutor/lecturer, but changing their gender won’t improve the standard of architecture education. It needs a complete overhaul and this is currently a hot topic and being written about at great length by Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright, (see dezeen online magazine).

In uk architecture schools both male and female students are treated badly so I prefer not focus too much on the gender issue. I haven’t done so in my book BRICK WALL which is an honest account of my experiences as a young woman at three architecture schools in the uk. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

women in architecture - Architect's Journal

Architects Journal women in architecture
Statue of Athena, Athens

Women In Architecture - Architect's Journal  11 Nov, 2010

"We need to challenge the ridiculous stereotype that says construction and architecture isn’t for women by encouraging girls at schools across the country to understand that it’s a great career path just like law and medicine which have similarly arduous professional registration and long working hours."
I have to disagree with her on a few counts. Based on hours worked, salaries paid and likelihood of redundancy, ARCHITECTURE IS NOT A GREAT CAREER and I don't think law is nowadays either. However, there can't be a worse career than architecture when you compare the expense and effort involved in training to be an architect in the first place.

The state high school I went to did nothing to discourage me, as a girl, from pursuing a career in construction. There was no "ridiculous stereotype that says construction and architecture isn't for women" that Sherin Aminossehe talks about. In fact, I remember being encouraged by my school to go to a university open day at Heriot Watt engineering department in Edinburgh. 

As the 1st year ratio in most architecture schools is an almost 50/50 split of males and females how can high schools be to blame for the small numbers of practising women architects? I considered doing a degree in civil engineering and in the end opted to study architecture as I was also arty - big mistake.

It's true that some lecturers  in architecture schools can be very discouraging to female students - watch this video to see how Peter Eisenmann speaks to a female student whose standing right next to him (he refers to her the entire time in third person). Architecture departments, when I was there, had many arrogant, sexist individuals working in them. Personally I could take this, but if they decide to do everything in their power to ensure that you never become an architect (by singling you out and failing you) then there isn't a lot you can do about it. Male students, often the more attractive ones (this is just an opinion), can be singled out for punishment too. 

I've written a book, BRICK WALL, and this blog, in the hope that I can prevent at least some young people making the same costly mistake that I did. That is my only aim as I now run a few successful enterprises. Campaigning against the way architecture schools in the uk operate has become kind of a hobby.

One person wrote on a student forum that he wouldn't have chosen architecture if they had read my blog beforehand. Some people don't want to know the truth, think that being treated unfairly will only ever happen to some else, some even attack the messenger, but for those of you who are open-minded and not already wealthy, then reading my book (or at lease doing more research) could be a very smart thing to do.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I want to be an architect

I want to be an architect uk
I want to be an architect
I want to be an architect comedy sketch

'I want to be an architect' was written and acted out by Moira M. Malcolm, author of BRICK WALL for sale on Amazon. I think you'll only find it amusing if you've studied architecture yourself. Even then, it might be too truthful to be considered funny. This could be a real conversation taking place between a student of architecture and her tutor. Nothing angers them more than when a student attempts to have any kind of life outside architecture. They also talk utter rubbish; spouting long, convoluted sentences that make no sense at all. Many tutors do this to try to trick their students into believing that they are real intellectuals. This, unfortunately couldn't be further from the truth. Click here to watch Peter Eisenmann interacting with a student whose work he is supposed to be assessing.

I found this funny video below on Youtube. The profession must be bad when architects are spending their spare time doing things like this. The video highlights two things - one that the reality of being an architect is very different from what people imagine and two that young people refuse to listen. One person left a comment saying "I HATE THIS VIDEO,U CAN'T RUIN MY DREAMS", another person wrote, "You are horrible people.Way to ruin peoples dream.You didn't ruin mine." LOL. 

funny video on Youtube by JohnnyBe321