I attended an international school back home, which has a Cambridge curriculum, and I found that the way it works is very well suited to me. I wanted to pursue my degree in the UK because I saw it as a developed country, where distinct research has been conducted to improve the quality of education. I was also looking forward to seeing the world from a different perspective by living in a new place, and meeting other people from different parts of the world.
I think the Kent School of Architecture (KSA) has a very intimate way of teaching this degree, compared to other institutions. During the first year, we were encouraged not to use computer software to work on our designs. Everything had to be hand-drawn and we also had weekly Fine Art classes, which allowed our creative skills to improve.
The curriculum is certified by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), so you know without question that you’re on the right track.
Before taking the course, my view on architecture was limited to just the aesthetic configuration of a building. Today, I feel like the subject is an endless spider’s web. It includes the anthropology of the relationship between human activities and the space they create, the history of how design evolves and why buildings are shaped the way they are today, the science of how a structure stands, and the art of creating an innovative design to satisfy human interest.
I like how in seminars, the tutors make sure that they spend an adequate amount of time with each student in the group, to help develop their projects. It feels like private tutorials where you can be more focused, but then you also get the chance to see the development of the projects of your peers.
Useful precedent lectures and other modules are also uploaded on Moodle (an online platform for study materials), so you can always review them anytime you want. I also appreciate how the tutors send us deadline reminders and are quick in responding to questions by email.
Being creative means not being afraid of not following the current, and not ‘playing it safe’. In architecture for instance, what you need to do is to throw out a crazy concept and solve the puzzle for it to make sense. You might need to work hard for creativity, though, as sometimes it is not simply a talent that comes to people naturally.
Time management is essential. The earlier you start, the more you can do. Design is a process; you need time to continuously revise and develop a project until it ‘works’, and it will not happen in just a night. Never limit yourself to what you can do, and don’t be easily satisfied with your work – you will be surprised how many new skills you will learn each day throughout your degree.
I am grateful that on my course, there are annual trips to cities with phenomenal architecture. First off, during the first year, was a field trip to Barcelona. The trip exposed me to the magnificent works of Gaudí, including the Sagrada Familia. I am still in awe of how much thought Gaudí put into this piece of architecture – from its distinctive exterior composition to the detail of a doorknob. During the second year, we had a trip to Berlin. The city is composed of various buildings from different times; from the renaissance Berlin Cathedral, Art Nouveau style in Hackescher Hof, and the modern Neue Nationalgalerie by Mies van der Rohe. Travelling to other parts of Europe with the course was such a remarkable experience, one that you might not often get, and it has broadened my perspective of architecture.
As much as it sounds like patriotism, I am keen to go back to Indonesia and develop my country’s architecture or urban city planning, with the knowledge that I have received from studying in the UK. Until I can contribute to a certain progress, then I would be willing to explore what I can do to improve the quality of spaces worldwide.
I would tell them the struggle was real. It was the journey that made the experience of studying meaningful. I have lost count of how many all-nighters we ended up spending in the studio, the tears that fall when a file crashes, the scalpel nicks while model-making… but then how satisfied we feel when our final project turns out really well. And that is what brings the whole cohort closer together.