Architecture School: Part 1 — Landmark
This article is part of a series discussing and reminiscing my years in Architecture academia. These stories are substantially extracted from facts but are also filtered with my perspective and opinion. Therefore, not everyone that went through the same process will echo my sentiments. Still, similarities will undoubtedly arise, for there is a kinship among participants who go through the same gauntlet.
In circumstances where a map is lacking, one can use landmarks for navigation. Landmarks, by definition, are features or objects in the landscape or town easily seen and identifiable in the distance. Often it enables someone to establish their location.
For the longest time, I always wanted to be an Architect. Since I was 12, it seems to coincide with what I have in terms of interest. I can draw (and like it a lot), I get to make things (thank you Lego), and the profession has a reasonable and regular pay that comes along with it (this always need to be considered).
On a family level, I think it also makes the parents happy.
Win-win, right? Now to find a way to get there.
Being an Architect is a professional service; one needs to jump through certain hoops for someone to be able to call themselves an one to the general public legally. For New Zealand, that task is governed by the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) or from this point on we will call, the Board. The board outlines seven possible pathways one can take to become an Architect in New Zealand. For my purpose, I have taken Pathway 1, the long description of which can you can look into here.
Other countries have a similar process, I believe, but it is best to conduct your own research on that regard. The TLDR version of it being an Architect in New Zealand via Pathway 1 is as follows:
- Get a recognised professional Architecture degree by the Board.
- Achieve the minimum work-experience hours set out by the Board.
- Prepare the required case study document.
- Apply and pay the fee
- Sit in the “professional conversation” with two assessors.
After the final step, you either become confirmed as an Architect or not. If the latter happens, comments and reasons will be made by the Board on the reasons the applicant has failed. Along with the recommendations on the additional areas of experience that the applicant needs to improve.
So that was that — I followed the steps above and got to call myself an Architect in New Zealand.
Not quite. There is a process to this.
Without any other influence, anyone can deduce that you need some level of training to become or perform in your profession. So upon receiving my university entry credits from high, I went to Architecture school. For myself, that was the School of Architecture and Design at Victoria University of Wellington (we will refer to it as Vic). Entry to this school is Open. Meaning, for prospective students in New Zealand, means a University Entrance, which the definition I won’t discuss here.
Studying here would be my first landmark.
The start of year one of five (potentially). The first step in approaching a particular landmark in this journey. That landmark of academic accreditation.
The goal is simple for me here. Go to the motions of the academic training of architecture at Vic, get a job after graduation and get registered. No muss, no fuss. The above steps are the minimum requirement I have set myself. I am not aiming for any honours or individual awards, although that would be nice.
But one more hiccup.
Since entering the Architecture programme at Vic is an open entry admission, there’s a large number of students in my class. I estimate 200 students. So one fine print that I neglect to read in the prospectus for the course is that the second year is a competitive entry. Only the top 80 students in the class would go through.
What happens to the rest?
Those unfortunate and did not cut it will be offered a place in the other disciplines under the school of architecture — namely, interior architecture, landscape architecture and building science. I shuddered. Mainly because it was cold in that lecture theatre that they were outlining the programme to us in. It wasn’t a discouragement personally, but rather a way of encouraging competitiveness within the student body.
With that piece of information in mind, off we go towards that first landmark: academic accreditation. Step-by-step towards this first landmark.