Wednesday, 5 February 2014

how to become an architect in the uk

Buy on Amazon
How to become an architect - but should you bother?

This blog has been created to compliment an autobiographical book called STUDENT ARCHITECTwhich 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. At times it feels like all the energy of staff members in architecture departments is spent trying to crush an individual's self esteem and ensuring that they NEVER become architects. Some schools are better than others but they ALL operate the same warped system of assessment - they think up a number.

The architecture schools that I have attended in chronological order are: 

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

The documentation to accompany STUDENT ARCHITECT has been put here as it not easy to read jpg images on a kindle. This miserable documentation shows the power of a university over an individual; the individual has no chance, even if your M.P. is Gordon Brown. The book is a much more interesting read I promise. 

Feel free to contact me 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 I believe it is a real sign of intelligence and a questioning mind. 

architecture school rankings uk 2013


architecture school rankings uk
GSA entrance
photo by Moira
architecture school rankings uk 2013 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), Dundee University  (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. Architecture is a very personal course and students are judged on their personality every bit as much as their work.

I have written about my own experiences as an architecture student in a book called STUDENT ARCHITECT for sale on Amazon. Clearly not a comedy, but it's an interesting insight into how architecture schools in the uk operate.

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, STUDENT ARCHITECT 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 STUDENT ARCHITECT 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, STUDENT ARCHITECT, 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 STUDENT ARCHITECT for sale on Amazon. I think you'll only find it amusing if you've ever wanted to be an architect and have 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

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

qualifications required for architecture at Dundee University

architecture dundee university
Tay bridge, photo by Moira
Qualifications required for architecture at Dundee University

In 2014, the minimum entrance requirements for the BA Arch (Architecture) course at Dundee University are:

QualificationGrade
SQA HigherAABB/ABBBB
GCE A-LevelBBB/ABC (excluding General Studies)
Following a FOI (Freedom of Information Request) I made to the department of architecture in Dundee, this the number of students who were failed at the end of third year since 2005

Academic Year 2005/2006       14 Failed 3rd year  
Academic Year 2006/2007       15 Failed 3rd year   
Academic Year 2007/2008       14 Failed 3rd year
Academic Year 2008/2009       <5 Failed 3rd year
Academic Year 2009/2010         7 Failed 3rd year
Academic Year 2010/2011         8 Failed 3rd year
Academic Year 2011/2012       <5 Failed 3rd year
Academic Year 2012/2013         5 Failed 3rd year

All these students studying architecture (approx 70 from 2005-2013) gained university entrance, passed 1st and 2nd year but weren't in the end considered bright enough or talented enough to pass 3rd year of architecture. Unbelievable.

MORE DATA IN FROM DUNDEE UNI (for students of Economics, a degree course with the same entrance requirements, only 12 people failed 3rd year in Economics during the same time period.


This data shows that Architecture is by far the riskier option and I suspect the riskiest subject to study at university.