In contrast to most of my former university mates, I never thought architectural education should undergo a serious transformation. Of course, I agreed with them that there is a giant gap between architectural education and traditional architectural practice but always saw this as an opportunity, not a problem.
When graduating, students are not fully prepared for working in practice – in most cases they lack essential business, regulatory and practical knowledge. However, given their diverse skills, they are in the favourable position to go into different fields and professions. In my opinion this is a much more useful competence than being perfectly prepared to go out in practice. After all, for everyone who wants to take the traditional route it wouldn’t take too long to fill in the gaps. Learning does not stop when you graduate and no one should be expected to know it all when they throw their mortar boards in the air.
Since the process of diversification of the architectural profession has already begun, universities have to react quickly in order to produce the new generation of architects who are committed to expanding the scope of the discipline into new fields. Re-branding the educational system as one that trains architects operating not only in traditional practice but also in alternative fields is the first step to achieve that. Architecture students should be made aware of the full range and far-reaching applicability of their talents and abilities. Currently, architecture schools strongly encourage students to represent their ideas in all types of media. This should be taken to a new level to stimulate students to channel their thoughts and concepts through different operations such as: policy-writing, event organisation, business planning, negotiation, etc. In addition, education should provide students with opportunities to gain practical experience in the various fields where architectural expertise can be employed. Thus, universities can assist their students in choosing the most desirable of many potential professional routes.
This article reflects on UK architectural education.