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With the higher education industry getting increasingly completive, the current educations system for architecture in UK is struggling to meet the professional models of the 21st century. It is time to throw away the myth that as architects, UK leads the profession in designing. It is time to realize that the whole team is a lot higher than the sum of its parts. What is important for knowledge creating societies is the ethic of collaborations, and one must collaborate to expand. For the first time, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is asking its clients as to what do they think about the implementation of the designing in their architecture. This is just the beginning of the focusing on the industry’s formations. No one can deny the central role of designing in the architectural education that can nurture the core skills.
Architecture education in UK
The majority of examination systems in the West are derived from university examinations of the middle ages. The first universities of Europe had trade gilds and no one got admission until he or she had served as an apprentice and passed a definite technical test. There were further development of examination practices. Board of Architectural Education was established under the Act of 1931, and the architectural education assumed architecture as fine arts and where the architect was seen as a creative artist in building. A liberal education precedes the study of architecture as fine arts has long been associated with architecture. Today architectural education is offered by practicing teachers, thus ensuring a direct connection between the instructions and the experience of actual practice.
The Royal Institute of British Architects was established in 1835 and is the supreme authority of the profession. However, RIBA has never been involved with the teaching of architecture. Still, it has played an important role in raising the level of professional knowledge. It maintains its own centralized examinations for students seeking entry and approved certain schools for the task of qualifying students for admission. Under the supplemental charter and byelaws of 1971, the earlier division of the membership of the RIBA into Fellows and Associates ceased to exist. To qualify as a Chartered Members, the candidate has to complete certain courses and pass certain examinations. The Council should be satirized that the candidate has the proper training in architecture.
The architecture student complete BA or BSc as Part I of examinations, do a masters course to complete Part 2 and a postgraduate course to complete Part 3. It is only after seven years of study that they can declare themselves a fully-fledged architect (Gockelen-Kozlowsk, 2011). As the business of making buildings is connected to the economy, the builders and architects can never be sure as to what lies ahead. However, they can be certain that their expertise will be needed in repairs of the older buildings. The wages can be excellent, but can be impacted as private households and companies are lowering their building budgets.
According To Vitruvius and what Plato though about architecture
We find Vitruvius briefly rehearsing the difference between the ‘practical’ and 'theoretical' side of architecture. He looks upon architecture as a professional commonplace. However, his words have been quoted many times and understood with different meanings. However, the identification of fabrica with the modern notion of 'practice' is misguided in principle as Vitruvius does not mean making, practical building. Vitruvius's concept of ratiocination is not well understood too and Plato's pioneering analysis sheds light on these problematic terms in architectural knowledge. Plato and Vitruvius agree on the aspect that the architect is an educated individual, whose intellectual qualifications are based on the knowledge of pure sciences and an understanding of practical building. In Vitruvius's own words, fabrica is an intellectual process and to suggest that the term refers to mere 'hands-on' knowledge would be wrong. According to Plato, praktike and gnostike are intellectual knowledge that require no manual skill (Morgan 2000).
Greek logos were the fundamental concept of western philosophy and science and the Roman term ratio, and all its derivatives can be traced back to these logos. The meaning of logos picked up a confusing range of technical meanings such as 'explanation', 'definition', 'theory', and so on. Plato's system of higher education based his first academic curriculum on training in Arithmetic, Geometry, Cosmology and Music. Romans appear to have an academic initial to training in architecture and other professions such as law and medicine.
The science and practice of architecture for Vitruvius begin with a Platonistic system of general education. As for Plato, the encyclical training is essential for professional practice and higher study of philosophy. It is difficult for the current reader to understand as to why the beauty in architecture was explained by a musical rationale in the Pythagorean-Platonic world. Although Plato does not validate the association of building in general to architecture, it is clearly implied that he did contrast between the uneducated manual worker and the well-educated architect. Plato allows us to classify the characteristic species of scientific constructions that were supervised by theoretical builders. The Greeks, like the Egyptians and Mesopotamians had long since understood the art of rational architecture. Vitruvius agrees with Plato that the architect must be qualified in the science of practical building. Still, his remarks speak about the difference between the craft of building and scientific architecture in particular. Plato is credited with the first theory of architecture as well as initiating the first formal curriculum of preliminary architectural studies.
The challenges for education in architecture
When the UK weekly paper for architects – building Design, interviewed the top 100 architectural students about their plans, 98% of them desired to have their office in the next ten years or so. It is this myth that allows that allows architecture to be self-satisfying and above criticism. It is also irony that the knowledge-based society demands heroic designs from the industry. It is essential to bring together the disparate parts in the much-fragmented industry. The efforts of Construction Industry Council (CIC) that was formed in 1988, has led to the development of greater respect among architect institutions for a continual professional development. Today, CIC is made of 51 institutions, with more than 350,000 professionals in the construction firm (Nicol & Pitling, S. 2000). The annual conference is held by CIC that is attended by the Heads of all institutions, and the focus is to become client-focused and get rid of that inward-looking culture.
The challenges for education in architecture are many. One has to get the right education so as to be able to run alliances of professionals and deliver quality on a smaller scale. UK architects are looked upon as poor listeners. While they are good at selling their concepts, they are not very client–focused. The current education system for architecture must take these aspects into considerations.
A statutory Board of Architectural Education was developed after years of negotiations led by the Royal Institute of British Architects under the Architects (Registration) Act, 1931. However, the statutory Board was abolished when Architects Act 1997 repealed the 1931 Act that was passed when the United Kingdom became a member state of the European Union. The RIBA recognizes the qualifying examination and a Chartered Member of the RIBA can apply for the registration of a Chartered Practice for providing architectural services.
Changing needs in the profession
Architectural education in UK must adapt to the rapidly changing needs in the profession. There are already heated debates on the structure and duration of the qualification, the impact on women, and most importantly, whether the education prepares the students well for modern practice. The students today carry beautiful hand-drawn portfolios, but cannot replicate the design on the computer in 3D (Murray2012). This is a major negligence on the part of the schools. The other important concern is that there is not adequate collaboration among students, and there are just too many sole practitioners in architecture out there. The modern times call for team-based working among architects, as well as collaborate with other disciplines.
There are much new building arising on the streets of England that may be designed according to the principles, but mainly created to attract attention. The architecture education still gets agitated by the assertion of Naturalism to Invention. Feeble thinkers have believed that being distinct means meanness in the style, but the meanness lies in the distinction, and not a treatment. It is true that the greatness of a treatment cannot be taught by simply talking about it. It is also true that the best designers never satisfy their own creativity. Some of the great principles of architecture are not learned from books or by philosophical speculation, but from the study of great monuments (Ruskin, 1866). The invention of the designer gets exhausted in making the most energetic and costly works. Moreover, the mechanisms of the age too prevent the best artists from creating good work. The best men can never be satisfied with their work absolutely, and the highly-educated nation that is vain and aged seems satiated with beautiful things.
RIBA and Efforts
RIBA is making efforts to come into line with other EU countries and launch more uniformity across Europe. By offering similarities in curriculum and aligning, the time will allow the architects to more freely between countries. It has been concluded that the average length of time that is taken an architect to become fully qualified in the UK has gone up to 10 years (Rory, 2013). This is much longer as compared to other countries. The move the governing bodies of architecture is also looking into a report that speaks about the high cost of architectural education. There is a growing recognition that that UK architectural education is in a dire need of a major overhaul.
There has been much complacency over the shake-up announced by RIBA to overhaul architects’ education of 50 years in UK. The shorter route to architect education will motive the students and save them valuable time and money. The architects will get more time to train in practice and reduce the strong-arm hold of the academic bodies on the way the practice develops. Still, there are warning from the practitioners that allowing the graduates to register after a five-year university course can weaken the professional title. The produce would be seen as the underclass architect, and not a competent practitioner.
The mesmerizing display of graphic ability and modeling skills from students at the UK's leading architecture schools can leave one frozen. Those immaculate drawings with impossibly elaborate visions offer an illuminating experience that is not without frustrations. The fantasy realms of convoluted forms in the projects seem to have no purpose. The architectural education in UK has been allowed to stagnate with the discussion of places and spaces, cities and landscapes. The inward-looking pursuit has gone on for more than five decades now. The three-part system still based on the model presented in 1958 during the RIBA Conference on Architectural Education. Students graduate with debts of £100,000 or more and very few job opportunities in the profession (Wainwright, 2013).
According to leading architects and professional in this field, everything related to the building is first placed on the table, and debated every single time. This is very unlike the institutions in other countries like US, where the height and use of a building are all well decided in advance in meticulous spatial plans. There is a need to promote a holistic approach (Wainwright, 2014). to the built environment so as to avoid the chaos in the planning system. The conventional disciplinary boundaries between those who build cities needs to dissolve. The architecture to make as a profession should be made easily accessible for people from different backgrounds. The academics should become more open, transparent and democratic.
The architect's role and position at the top of the pyramid have been increasingly diminished as there are sub-consultants available for every stage of the process. Moreover, in the contractor led forms o, the architect gets sidelined altogether. The change is now fast gathering momentum under the long-awaited pressure. UK Architectural Education Review Group has already suggested shortening the length of education and let the students get paid work along with their studies. There are responses already that can be seen as a reaction to the gravity of the problem. The campaign for Alternative Routes for Architecture promotes architecture as a problem-solving spatial discipline. FAT Architecture has begun a night school program at London's Architectural Association where architects gather twice a week to discuss their work with critics. The aim is to change the perception of architecture schools completely.
Importance of Practical training Even with the current changes in arrangements it is quite scary to know about the little practical knowledge people have when qualified. It is a greater focus on theory as compared to practical knowledge in universities in recent decades that has led to the decline (Fulcher 2013). The notion that these qualified students can change the world can make them more unemployable and paid accordingly. Practical training should remain an integral part of UK architecture education. It is the myopia of instant results that are increasingly seen in the commercial world and the fast-moving world often damage students. The Architects and the Architectural education are in for a long haul, and they do not start providing their best work until they are in mid-50s.
There is still a notable gap in the vision of the architect’s role and what is taught at the schools. There is a need to develop a distinctive knowledge base that is of practical value to the students when they step out in the commercial world. The education should provide a framework for continuous learning partnerships with the individual, the practice, the profession and the society. The profession of architecture and its practice has changed dramatically over the years. For the UK architects, the deregulation of the fee structure in 1981, and the rise of the knowledgeable client has eroded the traditional role of the architect ( Nicol & Pitling 2000). The architect today has to play a dual role and a neutral one between the client and the contractor. On one hand, he is on the side of the client, establishing his requirement while, on the other side, he is on the supply side of the industry, working as a sub-contractor. Furthermore, the fragile position of the architect is further complicated by the complex scenario of the procurement procedures in UK. As we shift from machine based economy to knowledge-based economy, the boundaries between the managerial and professional roles are only getting increasingly blurred.
The bottom-line is that the UK architecture education must adapt, and fast to the increasingly changing profession that remains divide between specialist practices and generalists and more importantly design architects and delivery architects. The main issues that face the education system for architects are the unnecessary longer period of studies and higher competitions for too few a jobs in the market. There is a need for the architects to think collectively, rather than just work in their sole spheres. Interactions and collaborations are very important to steer the UK education system for architects in the right direction. The choice of profession, how well the clients are understood, and the continual process of educational collaboration will play an essential role for the architects if they want to survive the environment of tomorrow.
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Gockelen-Kozlowsk. T. (2011). Architecture degree course guide. Available: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/degree-courses/8580585/Architecture-degree-course-guide.html. Last accessed 3 December 2014.
John Ruskin. (1866) An Inquiry Into Some of the Conditions at Present Affecting &The Study of Architecture, John Wiley and Son
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Morris H.Morgan, S. (2000) The Ten Books On Architecture, Harvard University Press
Nicol, D. & Pitling, S. (2000) Changing Architectural Education towards a new professionalism, Spon Press
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Wainwright O. (2014). Architecture report calls for shift in UK planning culture. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/mar/31/architecture-review-planning-policy-sir-terry-farrell. Last accessed 3 December 2014.
Wainwright O. (2013). Towering folly: why architectural education in Britain is in need of repair. Available: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/architecture-design-blog/2013/may/30/architectural-education-professional-courses. Last accessed 3 December 2014.