“Good buildings come from good people, and all problems are solved by good design.” – Stephen Gardiner
Home to and creator of historically iconic developments like Westminster Abbey, King’s Bench Walk, the Peckwater Quadrangle, Liverpool Road Railway Station, Windsor Castle and Bedford Park, the UK is deservedly among the world’s leaders, movers, shakers and innovators, in the realm of architectural design.
British architecture is known to encompass an eclectic blend of architectural styles, branching all the way from those that predate the formation of the United Kingdom, like Roman architecture, for example; through to that reminiscent of the Anglo-Saxon, something you see reflected in many of its Christian Churches; as well as Baroque, Georgian and Neoclassical; right up to the sharp, contemporary styles of 21st century design – for instance, like we see in The Shard (also known as ‘The Gherkin’) which towers over London at a staggering 309.6m tall, with the breath-taking shine of 11,000 glass panels.
A country with history as rich and exciting as that of the UK requires a wealth of adaptation over the years – think facades marked by tears of war, cries of revolution, the overwhelming smile of multiculturalism, and the sweet taste of progression – and in the spirit of true evolution, the UK’s architectural concepts and signatures have unquestionably changed along with it.
“After the battle of Waterloo, Britain changed to be a world power built on mechanisation, minerals and urbanisation,” writes Simon Thurley of The Guardian. “Hard, dirty, crowded places built the machines and manufactured the goods that gave Britain global dominance for around a century. The glorious buildings of the English countryside, the lanes, the villages and the cathedral closes became junior partners in a much harsher view of our national identity.
“Danny Boyle’s  inspired Olympics opening ceremony captured this perfectly,” Thurley explains. “While our cathedrals are glorious, our country houses sublime, and our villages the most chocolatey of all chocolate boxes, what sets [us] apart is our mastery of industry. [The UK] is home to the earliest monuments of industrialisation, the first factories, warehouses, railways, docks, power stations and much more,” he adds. “Half of my list of the most influential buildings are products of engineering and technology, and were all built in the space of 45 years.”
Ultimately, the UK is widely recognised for the quintessential ‘Britishness’ of its architecture, but let’s not forget the influence this region has had over the structure and design of commerce, business, industry, not just on a national but a global scale. With a long tradition of creative and engineering excellence in the structure of our cities, the UK has absolutely earned its reputation for innovating architecture – and for this very reason, there’s no better place than this to receive your world-class architectural education.
If you aspire to lead, move, shake, and innovate in the ever-changing field of architecture, here are 3 UK institutions you should seriously consider:
DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF STRATHCLYDE
The University of Strathclyde is a leading, international, technological provider of higher education, set in the heart of Glasgow – Scotland’s largest city. Through a broad range of undergraduate, postgraduate, and research degrees, Strathclyde is educating and inspiring the forerunners of the next generation to help them change the world.
Strathclyde’s Department of Architecture represents the only Scottish school of its kind to achieve a listing in the prestigious DOMUS Top 50 European Schools of Architecture, this being the third consecutive year that Strathclyde made the cut. It is for this reason and many more that Strathclyde is known as one of the highest-ranking faculties of engineering out of all UK institutions.
Through a diverse portfolio of programmes, such as the BSc Honours in Architectural Studies, the MArch/PgDip in Advanced Architectural Design, the MArch in Architectural Design (International), two brand-new programmes; the MSc/PgDip in Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage and the in MSc/PgDip Sustainable Engineering: Architecture and Ecology, and our MSc/PgDip in Urban Design, plus many more, Strathclyde Architecture has everything you need to ensure you excel at the undergraduate, postgraduate or research level. On top of this, the university also delivers continuing professional development courses and lectures for those already in-industry to help them keep up-to-date with changes in the field.
Staff in the Department boast a broad range of national and international experience for the benefit of students, also conducting research that deals with architectural and urban issues at the global, regional and local levels. “Our department’s vision is to continue to be a worldwide leading provider of education and research in sustainable architecture and urban design,” says Professor Ashraf Salama, and with Strathclyde gaining momentum in architecture and urbanism, the department is well on its way to achieving such a feat.
SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD
The University of Sheffield has an international reputation for shaping successful student minds, ranked a world Top 100 university for its consistently outstanding performance in terms and both teaching and research.
“We are joint 1st in the UK for undergraduate teaching,” the university states in this year’s National Student Survey. “100% of our undergraduate students think the course is intellectually stimulating and that our staff are enthusiastic about teaching what they are teaching.”
The School of Architecture (SSOA) is well-known for fostering a firm social conscience, standing strong in the belief that good architecture should really make a difference, and that it has the potential to significantly enhance the quality of life for all those that live in or use it.
The SSOA is proud to cultivate an inclusive, open and approachable working environment and creative studio culture that really allow students to shine. Through world-class teaching, research and partnerships, the SSOA allows students to engage with real-world societal, environmental and architectural issues, enabling each student to develop their own approach as unique and talented individuals.
And with a comprehensive range of architecturally-focused degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, Sheffield’s qualified Architecture graduates will be building the state-of-the-art world of tomorrow.
WELSH SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Cardiff University is an ambitious, innovative university located in the thriving Welsh capital city. As a world-leading research institution, Cardiff is driven by creativity and curiosity, striving to fulfil its social, cultural and economic obligations to Cardiff, Wales, and the wider world.
The Welsh School of Architecture boasts a long-term tradition of excellence, reflected in the popularity of its courses and its position in distinguished league tables. Last year, the 100 largest architectural practices in the UK ranked the institution in the country’s top three schools, while it also comes in 7th in The Complete University Guide Rankings by Subject for 2019.
Through its valuable connections with universities, industry and architectural practices all over the world, Cardiff seeks to maximise its students’ learning experience as well as the impact of its research. “Through our research and teaching we seek to create a built environment that enhances people’s lives, without destroying the planet for future generations,” notes Chris Tweed, Head of Cardiff’s Welsh School of Architecture.
Through a curriculum enriched with innovation alongside academic rigour, Cardiff is pushing its architectural students straight to the top of the graduate field.
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