Full name: Erlend C. L. Birkeland
Degree subject and level: Architecture BA, undergraduate stage 1
Home country/Nationality: Norway/Norwegian
1. Can you give us a bit of background to why you chose a UK qualification (E.g. national/global reach, career prospects, skills and experience gained…)
I chose to study in the UK partly because I wanted an education that was a bit different from the Norwegian architectural courses. In that way, I am hoping to bring some other perspectives and views on the subject when I begin practising as an architect in Norway.
2. What do you find most inspiring about your degree and institution?
The most inspiring thing about my degree is the fact that we get time and space to test different ideas and develop ourselves whilst learning a lot about a wide range of topics. That is the fantastic thing about architecture: when learning it, you can’t simply learn how a wall should be built or why structures don’t fall down. You have to learn a bit about history, psychology, sociology, art, composition, physics – and at Kent School of Architecture and I feel we get the opportunity to do that.
3. How did your perception of your subject change as a result of your course and studies? (E.g. What did you think of ‘design’ before and what do you think now?)
Before I began at Kent, I thought architecture was quite a bit more technical and full of memorising details than what it actually is. Yes, you have to understand quite a bit about how a building stands up, but you will learn that naturally as the course proceeds. The hard bit is to come up with the design you like.
4. What advice would you give students hoping to apply to your degree/course?
If you choose architecture, you have to be really interested in it. This isn’t a subject you study at the university a bit each day before you go home and have the rest of the evening off. The design process will be your life, so put some effort into learning good and effective time management.
5. Is there a memory of a trip, a workshop, a course or a speech that you attended that really stands out in your memory? Why?
In December, after all the work for the first semester has been finished, the year 1 students at Kent go to Barcelona to sketch and have a great time off and become even better friends. Working in the studio is the way we mostly make friends on this course, which is fantastic. Then after all the hard work at the end of our final project, we go into the beautiful city of Barcelona together with the enthusiastic teachers and that binds us together even more. It’s a wonderful dynamic.
6. What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to become an architect developing public buildings and public spaces for others to enjoy. To create spaces where people can meet each other and create memorable moments is what I really want to do.