BA (Hons) Architecture Course Director
Could you tell us about your experience and how this feeds into your course?
I joined Birmingham City University in the role as Programme Director and Year One leader. Having worked for more than 10 years delivering teaching and learning within the undergraduate years and postgraduate programmes at various institutions, I am now very experienced. I have taught across the following fields within higher education: architecture, interior architecture, theatre design, architectural technology, BIM, CAD and digital architecture and a number of other specialist areas. At BCU, I set up the BIM in Birmingham series of events, to provide students with the opportunity to network with and listen to presentations by architects and specialists on BIM from around the globe. This is now the only event of its kind in this field where students are on the front line, co-organising an international conference and feeds into the overall course philosophy.
What is the philosophy of your course?
For a number of years, the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design has enjoyed close links with the profession and established a number of strong relationships with local architectural practices. However, despite this fact and that these relationships permeate through the School, the blurring of the boundaries between academia and practice have not been an explicit central philosophy, until now. The introduction of the full-fee regime in Higher Education has resulted in a greater need for universities to place employability higher on their agendas, and it is in the form of an enterprise education which equips students for life beyond graduation, which the School of Architecture and Design continues to strive to promote.
A number of existing initiatives promote an entrepreneurial culture such as: live projects, work placements via praxis, interdisciplinary practice, and incisive contributions from the profession and the construction industry into the learning and teaching strategies of the School, all of which address the emerging agenda identified above.
If you had to name one thing about your course that makes it distinct, what would it be?
Whilst studying architecture can be a challenge, the most important thing to me is that my students enjoy their time learning the subject. Learning should be fun. At the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design, there is without a doubt a fantastic sense of a close knit community. Everyone works together, to support each other. We have a good time, with the continued aspiration of achieving good results.
Why is Birmingham a good place to study?
Birmingham is a city with an intricate landscape, a tapestry that is constantly changing. With a rich and fascinating heritage, Birmingham also has an incredibly exciting future ahead. In the coming years, we will see the commonwealth games take residence within the city, the development of the HS2, many new buildings and exciting public spaces. As designers, we must be aware of both the past and future. With Birmingham sitting on our doorstep, we use the city as a laboratory for many of our projects and become immersed within it. There are so many exciting places to visit, things to see and people to meet. The course continues to be praised for our outstanding facilities, links with the profession and our interdisciplinary practice by external guests and we take advantage of the opportunities offered by being a part of the second biggest city in the country.
Why do you believe it’s important to study a degree and why might students want to study your course?
Studying a degree not only opens new opportunities and provides a fantastic gateway to employment, but it provides you with the chance to grow as a person, to explore new things and discover your passions. Architecture, with its mix of the arts, technology, science and links to the profession, provides the foundation for individuals who wish to make an impact, be that at a local or global level. It is a chance to be creative, develop confidence, learn new skills and take the next step towards a career you will really enjoy.
Where will the students be based in their time here and what will their learning environment be?
Students studying architecture will be based at the School of Architecture and Design, located in Parkside in the heart of the city centre. You will study alongside other creative disciplines such as Interior Architecture and Design, Product and Furniture Design and Landscape Architecture, making the environment perfect for fostering early networks and exciting collaborations, whilst learning to become part of the wider community. Whilst some modules are lecture-based, a majority of your time will be spent in the design studio where you will work with your tutors and peers to develop design projects. Workshops, CAD labs and outdoor field studies will also be part of the learning experience.
What can students do to help prepare them for the course?
We do not expect students to be experienced in the discipline before they arrive. After all, for most students, architecture is a completely new subject! Practising your sketching skills, becoming aware of what’s around you, keeping an open mind and being open to learning new things however will benefit you before you arrive. An equipment list will be provided in the welcome pack together with a pre-arrival task. Join us with these and lots of enthusiasm and a passion to learn - and you will be fine!
What’s your favourite element about working at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design?
I joined the school in 2014 because I was impressed by the drive and determination of the staff. Their constant wish to keep improving and working hard is something that I continue to find inspiring. I also admired the smaller classes, which provides the opportunity to get to know students one to one. There is a close knit community within the School of Architecture and Design, which as a student myself, I would have loved to have been part of. It is a privilege to be part of the group.