Apart from ﬁguring out the shape and structure of a building, architects are also bent on creating building exteriors to help set the tone for urban, suburban and country landscapes. As architects, they have a lot to consider when it comes to aesthetics. Architects have their own visions, of course, and as they are artists in their own way, it is important for them to be true to those sensibilities. Since they design for others, architects also have to be sensitive to the clients’ needs: any historical or heritage aspects of the site, the appropriateness of the building exterior for its surroundings, the design of the interior to accomplish its goals, and of course things like budget and municipal requirements.
The topic of architecture is somewhat complex. As an architect, you would have to ensure that your designs are practical and stand the test of time, without being boring and static. Abiding by engineering principles helps to ensure that a building is sturdy and functions well as it endures the elements over decades. For instance, a tall building has to withstand winds that are far more vigorous than those faced by shorter structures. Meanwhile, the interior of a building has to be carved up effectively and safely as well, taking into consideration sound construction, and the needs and wants of the clients and end-users. The engineering that goes along with architecture is critical.
What kind of qualities an architect must have?
Because the architect works with the team that ultimately creates the building, issues such as environment and sustainability must be addressed. Your background and experience has to cover a deep knowledge of art, previous and current architecture practices and design, economics, history, lighting, shadows, the effect of textures, the use of computer software like AutoCAD, and even philosophy. Cultures have often been evaluated on the strength and style of their architecture, so insights into the past, present and future are helpful. Good architects are schooled in a phenomenal range of topics other than design. You need graphic and maths skills, knowledge of engineering, history and more. And you must have active right and left brains to achieve the effective balance between looks and practicality.
Should you study architecture? Why?
Architecture is becoming an increasingly popular subject. Combining art, science and technology, studying architecture can help develop personal skills, communication skills and professional qualities. You will ﬁnd that the subject provides a balance of mathematical, logical thinking processes with modern technology and the creative arts, allowing for an extremely varied degree. Many architects work on a self-employed basis, or together in a partnership, similar to law ﬁrms. Some do work for larger companies on ﬁxed salaries. Once you qualify as an architect, you can expect a great variety of work, whether you specialise in residential architecture or choose to design commercial buildings. Whatever area of architecture you decide to work in, you can be sure that your job will provide varied working environments and projects.
A budding architect’s journey
In some countries, it will take you at least seven years of full-time study to become a qualiﬁed architect! The process of becoming an architect varies from country to country. For example, if you study architecture in the USA, there are over 115 accredited architecture programmes. In the UK however, it is simpler, with the process being split into just three parts. A bachelor’s degree is required ﬁrst and foremost and is known as ‘Part 1’. Upon completion of your undergrad degree, ‘Part 2’ can commence. This part of the process enhances your overall architectural knowledge and looks at project complexity. Most courses are design-based and rely heavily on project work that is undertaken throughout the course. This part of architectural study allows you to enhance key ideas and skills.
Entry requirements to study architecture
As architecture is a subject rarely studied before university level, many believe that it doesn’t matter what previous experience or skills you hold. However, it would be a plus if you had studied Lukisan Kejuruteraan (engineering drawing) and sat for the SPM/O-Level paper beforehand – architecture is in fact related to a variety of subjects, so experience and a good secondary education, especially in maths, science and art is ideal. Most universities and architecture schools require you to provide a portfolio of your design work, showing your ability to draw freehand and create 3D models. Your portfolio is the most important part of your application.
Most institutions express offers with great emphasis on SPM/O-Level, STPM/A-Level or matriculation-level results, particularly in maths. Some schools of architecture also recognise further education and work experience, particularly for mature students who may not hold the prerequisites. Many prospective architects will be given an invitation to be interviewed by universities. Facing interview questions can be daunting, so read a good guide to undergraduate or postgraduate interviews before attending one. It will help you to leave a good impression.
How to make an impressive art portfolio for architecture school admission
What should you include in your portfolio? What do people look for in portfolios for architecture school without having any background in architecture?
Content for a portfolio might include hand drawings and sketches on paper and mylar (a form of polyester resin used to make heat-resistant plastic ﬁlms and sheets), pencil work, pen work, renderings, paintings, collages, mechanical drafting, computer drafting, photographs, and sculptures. The important point here is that the work displays your creativity, not that it is just architectural. The second thing to keep in mind is that the work should give the person who’s looking at it a sense about who you are. That is, your creativity, your focus, what are you good at? And what do you enjoy? Check out some good videos on YouTube on designing the perfect portfolio. Also, check out www.portfoliodesign.com for a better perspective. The link has plenty of useful resources on creating your portfolio.
When you apply to any architecture school, you are required to submit a portfolio exhibiting your experience, talents, skills, creativity and interest in architecture. Since you don’t have much experience to begin with (especially since you’re fresh off high school), the portfolio may include anything which demonstrates your creative potential as an architecture student. It can include examples of design, drawing and construction, as well as ﬁne arts and crafts. Most schools these days require the submission to be in digital format and it may include drawings, sketches, paintings, or photography; and photographs of models, ceramics, sculpture, woodworking, crafts, etc. It may also include non-visual media such as writing and music. Submit only materials that most effectively express your potential for creative expression.