‘As I am about to start my second academic year of MSt. Architecture Apprenticeship at University of Cambridge, I would like to share my first year’s experience, having started the course in September 2020, a year that has been far from normal.’

Bridging the gap

It is understood that Architectural education in the UK comprises of unhealthy trends of long hours, stressful competition and high fees. A recent survey conducted by Future Architects Front (a community established by ex-Cambridge graduates) revealed some interesting but not unsurprising results about architectural education in the UK; the majority of the respondents were unsatisfied with their educational experience and about 92% believed that it needs to change.

The new approach University of Cambridge has taken towards the Architecture apprenticeship, focuses on creating a positive change and equipping students with practical skills which might just be the change that is needed.

 Symbiotic Collaboration

‘Architecture schools can be in the vanguard, rather than taking up their traditional position’

The part of the course I have enjoyed most in my first year is the interaction between education and practice. During my year out, I felt a disconnection between projects I was exposed to at practice and the academic content taught at university. Because it took me two years to understand the dynamics of architectural practice, I felt this was the right route for me rather than returning to full time education.

The course modules fueled my interests, and I was able to develop them while working in the office. For instance, one of the modules, Introduction to Architecture Research and Writing’ helped me to apply the research skills on a Primary School project in Essex, and I assisted our in-house Heritage consultant to prepare the Heritage statement. Additionally, the project was required to deliver net zero carbon targets, this provided me with the basic principles of working with low embodied carbon materials and fed directly into another module.

The course exposed me to academic researchers and working in practice provided me with the support of experienced practitioners which enriched my coursework. 

Learning Experience
The course is led by Timothy Britain Caitlin, who is a well-known architectural historian and an acclaimed tutor. He is passionate and enthusiastic about the subject which makes the course interesting and exciting.  His network in the industry opens the opportunity of listening to contributions to the course from some of the most inspiring people, which include John Outram, Alan Powers and Charles O’Brien.

University of Cambridge has a wide range of researchers and academics specialising in various fields which has been insightful and has allowed me to explore further research and development opportunities.

The University Library is one of the six legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom, and it has been incredibly helpful in conducting my research, additionally the library building, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, is a treat! The course content has been both creative and relevant, comprising topics such as Material Innovation and Digital Fabrication, Fourth Industrial Revolution, Reflective Thinking and Working in Teams.

The module about working in teams, has been particularly useful as it has made me more confident and proactive member of the team in the office.  

Playtime

Although we’ve had a challenging year which required us to adapt to working remotely, I am glad we are moving towards normality as we can do more things in-person. The Architecture Summer Show provided an opportunity to meet the cohort in person and share some of the Cambridge experiences together, which also included ‘Punting & Prosecco’!

I am glad things are getting back to normal and I am really excited to see what the next academic year brings.

In the meanwhile, please check the ARCSOC’s (The University of Cambridge Architecture Society) Virtual End of Year Exhibition experience here!