BA Architecture – Student Profile – Charles Hope

What attracted you to studying at Kent?
I grew up in a remote Hertfordshire village; the leafy open space and extended views over Canterbury Cathedral won me over with a sense of home from home. The symbolic presence of the hill top campus proves to be good morning exercise if nothing else. The wide range of facilities on campus seemed to cater for long durations of stay during busy exam and presentation periods, which would help with time efficiency, respectively. Having proximity to the coast attracted me with the possibility of visiting Whitstable, Margate and more remotely the Isle of Grain and Dungeness for the more adventurous students.

Why did you choose to study architecture?
At secondary school I was torn paradoxically between art and science based subjects – both of which interested me. I eventually found that architecture was the marriage of the two through the practical application of playful visual planning. In 2008, I shadowed a family friend at Sheppard Robson Architects as part of a work experience scheme in year 8. Subsequently, I arranged a number of other Architecture placements whilst spending my summer holidays working for my father, a builder. The welcoming open days at Kent School of Architecture, vowed that there I would find a proper training towards my Part 1 architectural qualification.

What skills have you already learnt whilst studying architecture?
During my time at Kent I have explored architecture through a developing skill set of essay writing, hand drawing, sculptural modelling and computer visualisation. In addition, through regular interim and final crit presentations I have gained confidence in public speech and improvising under the stresses of closing questions. The workshop provides all the necessary tools and advice to make great looking physical models. Modelling I have come to realise as a physical process enables wider thinking and unconscious moves towards your design ideas where drawing and computer generation failed – and they look great in ‘show and tell’ demonstrations.

What are you enjoying most about university?
I really enjoy the studio culture that you find at the Kent School of Architecture, it functions as modern family and peer advice is crucial when the nights get long. In the third year I formed a subset of peers through the university chapter Article 25. Made predominantly of architects we arrange tutorials, film nights and socials – all good fun in aid of development and disaster relief. I also love the independence made available in the move to university, it has been an invaluable experience.

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?
The level of support is brilliant, with one of the highest student to tutor ratios on campus. The support comes from a wide range of backgrounds too, with guest tutors from local and London practices and academic staff with specialities in particular periods of architectural past. The support materialises in a number of ways through group and individual discussions, presentation feedback and impromptu conversation with passing members of staff. The diversity really helps to shape well rounded viewpoints and skill sets.

BA Architecture – Student Profile – Jade Simm

What attracted you to studying at Kent?
Fundamental to my choice of university was my determination to study at an institution that would allow me to maximise my creative talents to achieve the very highest standards.  Having taken the opportunity to visit many universities, I knew that I preferred a campus lifestyle and Kent truly is a very pleasant learning environment with its careful balance between open green space and learning facilities.  The warm welcome I received on the open days from both staff and students made me feel at home from the very first moment I stepped on campus.  Kent’s reputation and standing in the university league tables highlighted the fact that whilst the university felt like home it was indeed a well run and well organised centre of learning that strives to ensure that all students achieve their very best.  The huge choice of sports clubs and societies was also very attractive as I was keen to fully immerse myself in university life.

Why did you choose to study architecture?
Nothing in life touches people’s lives as much as architecture.  Walk down any street or sit in any environment and you cannot help to form a view of the architectural environment that has been created.  Good architecture can lift the spirit and impact positively on how people live and work.  Architecture can enrich lives, create mood and alter people’s state of mind.  My passion is clear and my determination to make a meaningful difference is resolute.  For me architecture as a profession was the only natural choice where I would be able to have such an impact.

What skills have you already learnt whilst studying architecture?
First year in particular allowed me to develop technical skills as well as conceptual and creative skills. During Stage 1 allocated sessions were used to explore creativity through a variety of techniques including life drawing, model making and sketching. The subject matter was not always architectural but this allowed me to broaden my skills and then apply it to my architectural designs. I also began to develop some very subtle skills in speaking the language of architecture and being able to describe a physical environment to demonstrate its form and the space that was created.
Second year we were introduced to 3Ds Max, weekly tasks were set to gain knowledge of the software so that we could produce a final piece. Up until this point of the year I had only used SketchUp for 3D design purposes, but the involvement of this software on the course has made me much more confident in producing photorealistic models.
During the course it is made clear that it is not just conceptual design that is important. You need to know how a building stands up and its environmental factors. Along with this you need to be able to present clearly your own ideas visually and verbally. Lectures are given on presentation, but the best way for these skills to develop is by looking at the work of others and taking part in Inter-Crits to understand the most successful techniques.

What are you enjoying most about university?
The Architecture course at the University of Kent is well run and the combination of lectures seminars and tutorials allows a varied study approach that keeps you in contact with a variety of staff and students. Many of the staff specalise in different areas so it is almost certain that there will be a member of staff you have common interest with and can aid your design. The Architecture studio is always buzzing and everyone is willing to help each other out.
Joining the Kent Architectural Student associated allowed me to become part of team of students organising activities for architecture students. I personally took the role of Merchandise Rep where I created a hoodie for all students to purchase and was part of the social team organising social events that weren’t architecture related.
As a member of the Rowing Team, I find it a good way to keep active as well as a friendship group outside of rowing. Sport gives you time to get away from your work and relax, something that is needed when studying architecture.

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?
Tutors are the best form of support in architecture, they encourage you to achieve your goals and give you both positive and negative feedback in order for you to develop your project as well as your own personal style. Tutors are there to help you; they are willing to meet with you outside tutorial hours or to discuss minor issues via email.  Tutors have a range of expertise and all are happy for you to tap into their knowledge and offer advice.
There are staff within the department of architecture that are there to provide general help and guidance throughout the course as well as the University providing a support service, available to anyone who requires it.

MArch – Student Profile – Jessica Ringrose

What made you want to return to Kent?
Having thoroughly enjoyed my time at KSA during my undergraduate degree, securing a year out architectural assistant position locally allowed me to maintain ties within the school. Being involved in employment days and acting as a guest critic for BA during this time made returning to Kent part of a natural progression.

How do you feel that the learning environment has changed between the BA and the MArch?
The M(Arch) allows a much more personal approach, each student can identify an area of interest to them and investigate it thoroughly. This process is guided by a more intimate support network of teaching and resources. The M(Arch) is smaller in numbers than the BA, this coupled with the fact we have a great new studio space, encourages a vibrant studio environment.

Tell us about the unit system and the benefits of vertical learning (Stage 4 and 5 working together)
As the M(Arch) continues to expand in numbers the Unit system allows students to choose an individual approach and brief that interests them. This facilitates a more diverse and creative learning environment as the projects developed cover a wide variety of topics important in architectural discourse. Vertical learning means there is limited distinction between 4th and 5th years, as a 4th year this motivated me to compete with the more advanced 5th years, and as a 5th year, I try to ensure I am not being shown up by a 4th year!

What are you enjoying most about university?
KSA is constantly challenging. Each time a small goal is reached, the satisfaction is immense!

What do you think about the level of support in your studies?
The Unit systems means you have one primary tutor, but with this you also have a second design tutor and technical tutors in the second term. The school has a friendly environment, with many specialist research, teaching and support staff. I have always found these people to be approachable and willing to assist. On top of this, we also have an extremely dedicated M(Arch) director who is invaluable.