Architecture

Architecture

Architects are principally concerned with the functional design and visual impact of new buildings and structures, or the modification of existing ones. They imaginatively propose three-dimensional design solutions to the problems of using space, whilst taking into account issues of form, texture, function, surrounding environment and cost.

Attributes you will need to succeed

In addition to your degree, employers will be looking for:

  • Creativity - This is not just being able to draw well (although this is important), but about readily coming up with a variety of ideas to solve any particular problem or situation. The ability to think and sketch in three dimensions, not just two, is crucial. Drawing free-hand, sketching out ideas on a blank sheet of paper is fundamental to the design process, and a core skill. You should have a sketch pad to hand at all times, so that you can record any ideas which might come to you.
  • Lateral thinking - The ability to transfer an idea from one domain into another, as the launching point for new approaches to a project. This is powerfully linked to creativity, and allows you to develop skills of ‘thinking around’ a problem in the search for novel solutions.
  • Clear expression of ideas - Original thoughts are of little use unless they can be communicated to other people.  In the context of Architecture, this usually takes the form of drawings and models. All architecture students will have to routinely produce models of their ideas for criticism, so a facility in this area (or the willingness to learn) is essential.
  • Presentation skills - Architects are frequently involved in making bids for projects to potential clients. Being able to assemble a concise, meaningful presentation of ideas, and the ability to talk convincingly about them, is a fundamental requirement. Randomly presented drawings and models, however excellent on their own, which do not unambiguously communicate fresh ideas are unlikely to convince potential clients or future employers.

Who are the employers?

A wide range of employers make use of architects, directly and indirectly. Typically these would include:

  • Large national/international architectural practices
  • Larger provincial firms or small local practices, usually with one or two partners
  • Large local authorities, public bodies, or companies – such as Heathrow Airport Holdings, Transport for London
  • Major engineering consultants – such as Arup, Capita Symonds. These are often featured on specialist websites such as acenet.co.uk/home/57

Where can I find jobs or training places?

The WSA will have access to a wide variety of placement opportunities in the UK and abroad, particularly after completion of your part 1 exams (when you are awarded your first degree) so make sure that you keep up to date with current opportunities by consulting your Departmental notice board and talking to lecturers. RIBA also highlights part 1 and part 2 vacancies and vacancies are occasionally posted to the Careers & Employability Jobs Board app in the intranet.  

There are a number of specialist agencies who deal specifically with architectural vacancies.  Whilst it is not recommended that you depend solely on these in your job search, they can be extremely useful sources of market intelligence. A selection of the major agencies are listed below. Also check the Architecture Library’s architectural journals/magazines for vacancies and agency ads.

Networking can be an extremely effective tool in helping you to get a good job. Build up a list of contacts from guest lectures, professional institution meetings such as SAWSA, Royal Society of Architects in Wales, returning students or Alumni, employer presentations organised by Careers & Employability and lecturers.

How do I start applying for jobs or placements?

Prepare a portfolio of your best work, which can demonstrate your originality and also your technical ability. Make sure it is well documented, and has a coherent story to tell about your ideas.  Keep it up to date and be on the lookout for ways to improve its impact.

You should have a well-presented CV to accompany your portfolio. Talk to your tutors and to your Career Advisor about how to tackle this, so that this essential document works as effectively as possible for you.

Related links

Getting started

Professional bodies

Employers and vacancy sources