The studio culture is essentially a melting pot of creativity – that’s how I’d describe it.
I looked at the league tables and tried to get as many different views as I could. The environment was important too: I wanted to be studying at a campus university.
It’s very different. University is less formal than school and more about setting your own targets: if you don’t manage your time, then it’s your responsibility. It’s a bit of shock to the system, but you learn quickly.
The lecturers are really enthusiastic and the lectures are inspiring – it motivates you to want to do your own work. The lectures cover a wide range – everything from history to technology – so you could be learning about classic Greek temples one day and building ventilation the next. That’s when you realise how vast the subject is. You get a lot of information fired at you and it’s all about taking it in and choosing the things that are most appropriate to your design.
At the end of each lecture, it’s very easy to go and have a chat with your lecturer about anything you didn’t find clear. Even outside lectures, there is always someone who you can talk to about your work.
I’d say architecture is the most sociable course at Kent. The studio is renowned for being as busy in the evenings as it is in the mornings. And if you want to discuss your design, you can get five or six opinions just by turning round and talking to people. I know everybody in my year and lots of people in other years as well. The studio culture is essentially a melting pot of creativity – that’s how I’d describe it. It provides you with all the equipment to produce your work but the most important thing is that everyone’s together in a big group.
We always have one main design module going on and all of the other modules feed into that. I like this way of working. It allows you to take your own route and focus on the things that you enjoy. Last year we looked at collective dwelling: we designed a scheme for Faversham creek. Mine was mixed use – residential, commercial and industrial – how those three sectors relate to each other and can co-exist within one unit. This year we are doing something quite different: each brief is completely unique. The best design is always the one you’re about to do!
Architecture is very visual so we pin up our work, or share it on the screens and present it to our peers and our tutors. You’re assessed on the quality of your presentation, the drawings and the design itself. You have to present your thought process, so it’s about learning to portray this in as few drawings as possible. During tutorials, you often have to explain your design, so you soon get into the habit of doing that.
The facilities are great. Some universities have huge workshops but they share them across three or four subjects, whereas ours is just for the architecture students. We also have good up-to-date technology like our 3D scanner, and a huge collection of architectural books and journals in the library.
I have a core group of architecture friends but there are lots of other people I spend time with. In the second year I joined the caving society, which was amazing – especially our trip to Wales. I also work for the University as a student ambassador and media assistant. In terms of work experience, I took a placement over the summer and learnt a lot. The firm was putting a proposal into planning and I was part of the team working on that. It was quite a large development – a seaside hotel in Torquay – and my team’s 3D model was shown on the front page of the local newspaper.
It’s very important to come to Kent and see it for yourself – especially the studios!