Sunday, 20 August 2017

Views of architecture students and architects who have contacted me

Since creating this blog in 2013 and publishing my book BRICK WALL many students of architecture past and present have contacted me with their own, mostly depressing stories. I am publishing snippets here without names or details of where they studied to avoid any repercussions.
"The architectural education system (and RIBA) are completely unregulated, it makes me so sad to see so many people, like myself, strive to achieve in this degree. The system made me mentally and physically ill to tell you the truth, and I doubt that I will ever recover from it."
"What can we do to campaign for change? Appealing to RIBA is obviously not an option. I would love to help you in your pursuit."
"I studied architecture starting at _______ in 2002, failed 3rd year, repeated somewhere closer to home to save money, did a year post part 1 and then pg dip. then I was unemployed for 4 months, I work as a university administrator now."...
"I agree with much of what is posted on your site and some of resonates deeply. Your article 'what I learned in architecture school' could have been written in my own hand. My experience of architecture school cut very deep. I won academic prizes at school and it counted for nothing at architecture school."...
"Architectural education in the UK is a trainwreck, and I think everybody that can count themself an insider knows that. I don't think 'outsiders' have any idea, and there could be a real need for a piece of substantial campaign work in this area- you will have no difficulty in collecting depositions from former students, I am sure."  
"I found your blog on the internet and I REALLY love your articles, which are very true. I couldn’t help write to you. I’m an international student studying Bachelor of architecture in America. My degree is a five-year program, and now I’m a 5th year student. So far I had three summer internships, and after I did my third internship this year, I’m 100% sure what we learn in school has nothing (or has little) to do with the real practice of architecture."...
"Our school gives us no clues about the real world, and employers are not willing to train new grads, so it’s not easy to get a job as entry-level architects (actually it shouldn’t be employers’ responsibilities to train new grads…)"... "I know two people working for BIG (in New York); they both think working there is a great accomplishment even though BIG pays them the minimum wage (about $8 per hour in NY)."
"Anyway, I enjoy reading your articles, and I feel happier that I’m not the only one who experiences and struggles with the huge gap between architecture education and architecture workplace."
"I very much enjoyed reading your book over the bank holiday and as a qualified architect who did part 1 and 2 at _________ I would like you to know how much of it rung true with me."...
"It wasn't just being made to study a subject I love in such a backward, warped and irrelevant way - which at times was almost torture - but what I particularly dislike is how it turned me from someone who is generally kind, tolerant, easy going and level-headed into being resentful, suspicious and at worst an emotional wreck."...
"At the lowest point I remember stumbling into the university doctor's office in floods of tears after having barely eaten or slept in several days through stress."...

Just ask yourself why, if they there is nothing wrong with the architectural educational system, do fully qualified architects read my books and write essays to me? But don't just take my word for it, search the student rooms and see what current students are saying about the course. Are they enjoying it? Are they learning anthing? Bare in mind it takes a logical mind to make sense of it all.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

How NOT 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, "it 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 (ranked 5th place in 2018 in the UK).

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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.

Another book the RIBA won't want architecture students 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 were 46 architecture schools in the uk in 2014, by 2018 this will have increased to 54. Wow. And each school takes in around 100 students. That's a lot of people training to be architects. I've studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art (ranked 3rd or 4th place in AJ 100 opinion poll), Dundee University  (ranked 18th) and Newcastle University (ranked 5th) in the University League Table.

I didn't find it hard to be accepted at an architecture school, (I was interviewed and gained entry to what was at the time considered to be a top school), it's was getting out the other end with a degree certificate that turned into a real challenge.

Every student thinks they will succeed at university 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 because a tutor dislikes their designs, dislikes THEM or is jealous of them (of course the latter reasons could never be openly admitted). But believe me, anger them in any way, and you'll receive a big fat fail.

And the most sickening thing of all is that, while most students work day and night, some individuals sail through the entire course handing in work produced by a 3rd party - usually someone in a higher year or even a qualified architect 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. The marks, in relation to design work, are plucked out of the sky. I kid you not. And that mark, which determines your life chances, might be sky-high or it might be sensationally low, even a fail, as was the case with 117 1st year architecture students at Greenwich. In June 2011, only 25 out of 142 achieved the 40% pass mark. Wow. You couldn't make this stuff up.
 The mother of a 1st year student at Greenwich, who received 28% for her portfolio of work said, "She has in fact spent the year thinking she was doing quite well."

This explains why conscientious students of architecture live in a perpetual state of anxiety;  they never know what the final outcome will be. Sadly the only outcome they can be certain of is a mountain of debt.