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Architecture BA(Hons): What our students say

Student profiles

Don't just take our word for it – here's what students say about what it's like to study at Kingston University.

Elle Bytautaite

Name: Elle Bytautaite
Course: BA (Hons) Architecture 
Route to University: BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design
Year of graduation: 2015

Why did you choose Kingston University?

"The open day and the interview process were very professional, efficient and well organised, and this was a direct reflection on the way the course was run. I was impressed with the student profiles and their work, displaying clear employability skills and competent, intriguing projects. The faculty staff also had high profiles with good industry links, which was encouraging.

"The University has great facilities - the library and workshop did not compare to elsewhere.  The campus has a community feel which in the long run helped me to form meaningful friendships and connections with like-minded people whilst learning from and encouraging each other.

"I always knew I wanted to be in a design-related discipline with intellectual rigour. So I made a decision to specialise in architecture at Kingston as it is both academic and artistic."

Did you do a foundation degree first and was it of benefit?

"I studied triple art GSCEs at school and then I moved on to do a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design at Kingston College. From there I continued on to Kingston University to study architecture."

What skills did your degree course give you?

"The school's educational methods encourage independence and allow students to learn through making. The tutors, who themselves are practising architects, help students to establish a sense of identity within architecture and foster a culture of freedom to follow their own personal ethos.

"Looking back, the course exceeded my expectations. It was both challenging and stimulating, allowing me to proceed to the next career stage. By the end of the course, I felt appropriately prepared for the workplace after gaining employable skills."

How has your degree opened doors or enhanced your job prospects?

"Kingston presented opportunities that I would have otherwise missed out on, from being able to study in the USA, to receiving a Progression Scholarship for three years.

"Through the International Exchange Programme offered by Kingston University, I spent a semester studying architecture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the USA. That was one of the most transformative experiences to date - being able to learn and compare a different approach to architectural education meant overcoming various obstacles, and challenging and questioning the process whilst also building experience and skills for the future.

"Since graduating I have been working as an architectural assistant at Rundell Associates, which I started within weeks of the final submissions. In September 2016 I will be returning to Kingston to complete a MArch Architecture course and plan to continue working part-time. I see this career as a journey and I plan to travel and spend time working in Asia, eventually registering as an architect. I also hope to be involved in teaching architecture in the future."

Were there any obstacles to overcome in starting and then completing your course in university?

"Architecture is a tough and demanding course requiring individuals to be driven. However, it is also a highly rewarding and inspiring course allowing you to explore your curiosities fully, to experiment, question and establish a sense of personal and creative identity within the industry."

What advice would you give to someone wanting to apply for Architecture?

"Take every opportunity to develop your skills further, be involved and have a voice within the faculty.  In terms of the studio environment: learn and empower each other, it is not the place to compare yourself or compete with your peers. It is important to take ownership of your education. An abundance of resources, facilities and staff are there to help you succeed, so be savvy - know your strengths, weaknesses and when to ask for help."

 

Katrina Haberfield

Name: Katrina Haberfield
Course: Architecture BA(Hons) 
Route to university: Qualified graphic designer
Year of graduation: 2017

Why did you choose Kingston University?

"Initially, the only reason for choosing Kingston was because I wanted to be close to home and family. Also, as a mature student I wanted to make my travel time as short as possible. When I visited the University I was really impressed with it and after I actually started I was even more impressed with it.

I know Kingston really well because I have lived in the area during the last 20 years. I didn't know the campus, but I really like the campus now. I think being set just off the river is really lovely and I get a sense that the building is highly creative with all the people in it. I particularly love the architecture section of the building based around the courtyard, I think it is a great space and I have been surprised at how versatile these spaces are; with moving of studios and everything that we do.

I also really like the way they break the architecture course down into sections. The workshop is also amazing and the staff in the workshop have been so helpful and brilliant. I think all aspects of the course are really good... I think they have got a good formula going."

Did you do a foundation degree first and was it of benefit?

"No, I didn't. I did my school exams a long-long time ago, but I have done graphics so I had a visual communications, design diploma that I did in the Polytechnic in New Zealand, so I was a qualified graphic designer.  Also, I my subjects from school were maths, English, economics, art and geography so I think all of those subjects actually lead themselves to architecture as well."

What skills did your degree course give you?

"They gave me a very good grounding in the design process and representation, as well the whole industry standards. They gave me a working knowledge of drawing packages and presentation programs."

Has your degree opened doors or enhanced your job prospects?

"Yes most definitely. Also, being a mature student has helped immensely."

Were there any obstacles to overcome in starting and then completing your course in university?

"Being a mature student, initially I was thinking "Am I too old?", but you're never too old to learn. I actually thought "if I've got another 20 years of work I want to be doing something I am enjoying", and I was not enjoying what I was doing. So, I applied and couldn't actually believe that I got accepted. It was a concern of mine that being a mature student I might not develop relationships with other students, but that is not the case at all. I think everybody is really lovely and very supportive.

When I got accepted on the course, I had to get over my family's slight negativity towards it. But my daughters were amazingly supportive; they were actually really great. I have the kids to juggle, in terms of family life, and at times it is difficult but I work through the night.  I think they quite enjoyed seeing my progress with work as well, and then showing other people what I have done.

I think despite finding out at the end of the first year that I had breast cancer it was never in my mind that I was going to stop [studying]. I found that coming back to the course and doing the second year is what has kept me focused on something that was healthy and positive. I have got to say that everybody, students and staff, were absolutely amazingly supportive and that in itself was brilliant."

What advice would you give to someone wanting to apply for the Architecture BA(Hons)?

"I think it's important to have a really strong artistic base. Anybody applying should probably brush up on their drawing skills and if they do not feel that confident just practice-practice-practice because that will help. Also, come with an open mind and embrace it. Be prepared that it is really hard and put the hours in. If you want to do well that is what you need to do."

 

Mark Mcglynn

Name: Mark Mcglynn
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)

Why Kingston?

"When choosing Kingston University to study, the facilities and the location were the deciding factor for me. I had completed a foundation year in another London based University and their workshop and campus were not even close the standard at Kingston. Also, I researched the staff and I was very impressed at the level of experience and professionalism."

What inspires you?

"The interaction with the tutors and fellow student really keeps me active and inspired. No matter what aspect of architecture you are into there is someone who is in to the same thing. Being around other students from other courses at Knights Park is also so beneficial. You learn different techniques for representation that you may not normally be exposed to."

What next?

"I will continue my architectural journey in a practice over the summer. I really feel that I have enough work and a sufficient level of confidence to be an asset to an employer. All of our tutors have real world experience which has had a great impact on the way we conduct ourselves and present our work. I hope to return to Kingston for my Diploma."

 

Lise Vabo

Name: Lise Vabo
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)
Route to university: two-year course in interior architecture and an additional year of art history

"I have always been interested in art and design, especially when it comes to architecture. My previous studies have made me aware of this and given me a solid foundation to build upon.

"I have imagined what studying architecture would entail, and Kingston University has pleasantly exceeded my expectations. The architecture course has broadened my horizons on the society and its frames – how our surroundings affect us.

"The first year at Kingston has been mainly practical where we have been working in different mediums to communicate our ideas – model building, photography and drawing have cooperated with tutorials. This way of learning through working appeals to me a great deal and was one of the reasons why I chose Kingston University.

"In addition to this, what attracted me to Kingston University was its close proximity to London. The University actively uses London in different ways – whether it's field trips to museums or important architectural structures or assignment related survey work.

"Studying architecture at Kingston University is challenging, and you meet a lot of different people from various nationalities. You form great friendships through field trips, uni work and free time. Furthermore, you are allowed to challenge your creativity and show what you are capable of."

 

Joe Lyth

Name: Joe Lyth
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)
Route to university: A-levels and experience

"When I finished my A-levels I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I went travelling for a year. After working several un-fulfilling jobs I was offered a job with an architect in London. After a year I started working with another architect as well and realised architecture was what I wanted to do.

"One of the architects I worked for studied at Kingston and highly recommended it. Coming from a creative background (I originally applied for sculpture courses when I left school), the course at Kingston is ideal. It's very design based, with the technical side taught during and alongside the studio work.

"My first year has been a great experience. The field trips into London and the main one to Vienna encouraged great friendships while exposing us to some amazing architecture, inspiring many great projects. I've found the work fun and really interesting; even if the workload sometimes means not seeing daylight for a while!! The way you're taught means one minute you'll be learning about sustainable technologies, the next trying to find the best material to simulate bricks at scale. There's always something new to learn.

"The course is a fantastic chance to be inspired by other students and driven by the tutors to discover what's out there, and what's in you to design. I can't wait to see what happens in second year!"

 

Nancy Falloon

Name: Nancy Falloon
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)
Route to University: mature student

"I applied to Kingston as a mature student, whilst still employed as an in-house lawyer working in the financial services industry. I enjoyed the intellectual rigour demanded by my work but had always craved a more creative outlet. After many years practicing law, I began to realise that I was fascinated by architecture and, as I began to explore this interest, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to retrain as an architect. People have said that this was a brave decision, but I felt it would have been harder to continue with my legal career once I knew that my future lay elsewhere. The decision to return to university was easy compared to the years of trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life!

"I attended an open day at Kingston University and was very impressed by the studio and workshop facilities. The library seemed well stocked and well used by students, and the lecturers I met were inspiring and passionate about their subject.

"As the first day of term neared I was a little apprehensive about how the other students would perceive me, given I was so much older than many of them. However I was really pleased to be so readily accepted and I have made some good friends. I hadn't anticipated the importance of your peers when working in a creative discipline, but you learn so much from your interactions with other students that forging these relationships is key to getting the most out of the course.

"I don't think university is easier second time around. Full-time study is very demanding and requires real commitment. However I think the work ethic and organisational skills you bring to your studies as a mature student do stand you in good stead for juggling all of the demands on your time.

"Having made the change I don't regret it for a single moment (although the pay isn't up to much!) and I feel that the welcoming and dynamic atmosphere at Kingston University has eased the transition back into student life."

 

Kate Wood

Name: Kate Wood
Course:
Architecture BA(Hons)

"This course is designed to teach skills from the ground up, which gives you a strong basis from which to start learning to create good architecture. It's great that the School of Architecture and Landscape is part of an arts campus and faculty as this provides lots of inspiration.

All my tutors have been incredibly supportive, particularly as I have a disability which makes certain aspects of the course quite challenging! I really like the fact that many of the tutors are practicing architects with strong links to others in the industry.

So far, the course has given me a much better understanding of architecture as a career and prompted me to think harder about the kinds of architecture that interest me. As a whole, the course is really helping me to build up my confidence as well as letting me make mistakes and learn from them."

 

Laura Berge

Name: Laura Berge
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)

"I chose Kingston because the course is studio based. This means you get to spend a lot of time with other students and have lots of face-to-face time with your tutors. All of the tutors have been really supportive and the variety of teaching methods, be it a formal review, a seminar or a tutorial in the student bar, mean you get a lot out of your studies.

My time here so far has been really fun as there's a great atmosphere in the studio. The last few years have really boosted my confidence and I feel much better at communicating with others, which I'm sure will help forward my career. In fact, architecture at Kingston is a great basis for any career in design, so I will be looking for creative jobs that will challenge me."

 

Paolo Scianna

Name: Paolo Scianna
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)
Route to university: A-levels and art foundation (then took a three year gap prior to enrolling)

"Architecture has always interested me.  I like its cross-disciplinary nature and the many factors that go into making up a building – social, philosophical, scientific and artistic. I chose to study at Kingston University partly because of its location, but also because of the reputation of the Architecture BA(Hons) degree and the fact that it is in a faculty with art and design.

"On the course I have particularly enjoyed the broad range of modules and the speculative approach of the tutoring. The teachers are excellent. Their energy, enthusiasm and commitment are a real inspiration. I think the history and theory classes have interested me most. I have always felt that an understanding of these subjects is crucial to developing a critical attitude towards design.

"The trips in the second and third year have also been excellent experiences. We have been on two – one to Copenhagen and the other to Barcelona. We worked hard and played hard and this added to the enjoyment.

"I joined this course after a three-year study gap and Kingston has been great in this respect. There are quite a few older students on the degree and I have made some very good friends. There were moments of frustration in the first year. I think this is because it is partly about breaking down preconceptions of what architecture might be and preparing the groundwork which you can build on (forgive the architectural pun). Also, there was the added worry about whether I was making the right decision.  As an older student I was very aware that I didn't have time to mess around.

"However, the initial uncertainty soon passed and my long term ambition is now to get my RIBA* part 3 and become an architect. I'm also interested in furthering my studies and am looking into doing an MPhil. The nice thing is that I have the next four or five years set out for me, and that's a relief rather than a concern."

* Royal Institute of British Architects

 

Maria Silva

Name: Maria Silva
Course: Architecture BA(Hons)
Route to university: mature student previously studied architecture in Sri Lanka

"Architecture has always fascinated me and I applied to study at several universities in and around London. I received five offers and chose Kingston because the course contained the elements that interested me most, it had a good pedigree and I felt at home on the campus.

"On the course I have enjoyed the studio-based structure, the preference for model-making and the level of interest shown in the context that one designs in. The lecturers are friendly and always have time to assist students during, and even after, the tutorials. Initially I struggled with essay writing and the various architectural computer packages. The lecturers were very helpful and hard work and perseverance helped me overcome the difficulties, although I am still learning. 

"So far I have been on two field trips - one in Denmark and the other in Holland. The highlights were visiting various buildings from different periods and understanding their relationship to culture and context. During the second year I did four placements working on construction sites in the capacity of observing and taking part in very simple duties. This has helped me understand first-hand the things I have studied such as building materials and different construction methods.

"I have also liked using facilities such as the workshops and the printing room. Away from the course the University gym and the Students' Union bar are also my favoured places for relaxing and having good time.

"After I graduate my plan is to work for a few years and then come back to complete the next stage of becoming an architect. The course has made me realise that architecture is definitely my preferred profession."

 

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