Student Voice: Laura Hastings

Laura Hastings, BA (Hons) Architecture student, talks to us about her experience at BCU and how her time here is preparing her for the world of work. 

Headshot of Laura Hastings

Laura, tell us about why you chose BCU. Were you always planning to come to university?

University had always been a consideration but I was open-minded to alternative routes of education. I’ve always been creative and was certain that I would pursue a career in design, it was just a matter of deciding which profession. I was torn between Silversmithing and Jewellery Design and Architecture.

In the end, I felt Architecture was something that had the potential to have a positive impact on the world, whether that is a global or local scale, through design intervention. The potential to have such an influence on the built environment and the way that people live their lives was the deciding factor for me.

After plenty of research and numerous Open Days, I decided that university was the best place to get the qualifications and experience needed to become a qualified architect. BCU felt like a comfortable and familiar working environment, but one that would challenge me to achieve the most from my undergraduate degree.

What challenges have you faced at university and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge by far has been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and the way that my studies have been impacted by changes to face-to-face teaching. Particularly in a course like Architecture, face-to-face studio time with tutors and fellow students is important when progressing design projects through feedback.

Having to limit this contact time has been a challenge but the support and guidance provided by staff has been invaluable as they have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are able to continue with our studies in a safe and secure way. In many ways, the architectural and design issues that have arisen surrounding the pandemic have influenced our work, design proposals and strengthened our undergraduate education.

What are you most proud of from your time at BCU? What do you feel you have accomplished so far?

I am most proud of the work that I’ve produced and the community that I’ve become a part of.  From the start of my undergraduate degree, I have developed a much greater understanding of architecture and a new perspective on the world, something that has influenced my projects from the very beginning.

The community spirit of Birmingham School of Architecture and Design is something special that BCU has to offer. From helping to organise the annual BIM in Birmingham event or taking part as a guest critic for final reviews for first year students, the student network is ever-growing and we’re encouraged to connect with students from across the school and professionals.

BCU and particularly the staff have been incredibly supportive throughout my degree, I have always felt as though staff and tutors have gone above and beyond to ensure that we have the best possible opportunities, from course-based assignments to events outside of the studio. The university has so many great departments that are easily accessible and always willing to help.

What key skills have you gained from your course?

Whilst Architecture has taught me the conventions of architectural drawings, I’ve also greatly developed my graphic design skills. Throughout my course, I’ve learnt a great deal of computer-based skills in 3D computer modelling software (Vectorworks, Rhino, Revit and AutoCAD), real-time rendering and Adobe software such as Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Premier Pro. I have also further developed my skills in drawing, sketching, modelling, and other creative outlets. The skills that you can gain from studying Architecture are never-ending!

How have you changed since you began studying your course?

I’ve developed confidence, both personally and in my work. I feel as though I have the confidence to show my work to professionals and future employers, something that was a terrifying thought before starting my studies. I have also become more driven by opportunities and experience, always saying ‘yes’ when an opportunity has arisen.

What do you hope to do once you leave university and how do you feel your time at BCU will help you achieve it?

I hope to gain experience as an Architectural Assistant before furthering my studies in Architecture. The course has provided me with the confidence and professionalism to pursue a career in the architectural industry.

At BCU, I’ve been continually challenged to strive to achieve my very best. I’m part of an incredible community of supportive staff, students and professionals and I’ve been given the skills I need to transition from university into the world of practice. I’m proud of who I am, what I have achieved and I am ready to make the most of any opportunities which may arise in the future.

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