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(Oven) Ready or not, Here I come, You can’t hide


Introducing this year’s AJ student special

Welcome to the AJ’s annual student special, which this year is focused on two very important issues: one, the validity of the UK’s architectural schools rankings in the Guardian league tables, and two, the ongoing debate regarding ‘oven-ready’ students – and what kind of education prospective architects should be getting at university.

On the subject of league tables, we’ve turned the debate on its head, and questioned the rankings by carrying out in-depth reviews of The Guardian’s bottom 10 schools. We wanted to see students’ work for ourselves and examine the diverse range of teaching on offer.

The metrics the newspaper uses for judging the schools are based on measures such as expenditure by the university on their students, student-staff ratios and a graduate’s likelihood of finding a graduate-level job. 

While these benchmarks probably have their uses, we’re asking the more basic – and, arguably, more useful – question of what level of architectural quality can we observe at the end of year shows put on by schools like Lincoln, Birmingham and London Metropolitan’s Cass.

The AJ’s other area of study is perhaps the burning issue in architectural education right now – a perceived clash between academia and practice and the question of how much the former should prepare embryonic architects for the latter. While the ‘oven-ready’ student has long been a matter of debate, the argument has escalated, thanks to the striking impact of £9,000-a-year tuition fees and because of boom-driven skills shortages which have seen demand for competent Part 2s rocket.

As our headline intimates – regardless of how well this year’s crop of graduates can contribute to architectural practice, they are ready and willing to work. Following our own research, the AJ’s gut feeling is you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their capabilities.

Elsewhere, our coverage includes an essay by Niall McLaughlin arguing for closer – and continuing – links between schools and practices like his own. 

We’ve also explored emerging forms of architectural education which ferment collaboration between the worlds of work and teaching.

Read an interview with the director of the new London School of Architecture  Will Hunter and an essay by Daisy Froud and Harriet Harriss of the Bartlett and the RCA respectively.

To kick-off, we provide hard data on both of these topics: you’ll find a map locating the UK’s architecture schools alongside The Guardian’s rankings, as well as a snapshot of how academia and practice collaborate together – in the form of a selective list of working architects engaged in teaching.

The Guardian’s Architecture school rankings

1. University College London
2. Cardiff University
3. University of Kent
4. University of Cambridge
5. University of Bath
6. University of Huddersfield
7. Manchester School of Architecture*
8. University of Sheffield
9. University for the Creative Arts
10. Coventry University
11. Queen’s University Belfast
12. University of Northumbria
13. University of Nottingham
14. Oxford Brookes University
15. University of Edinburgh
16. University of the West of England
17. Anglia Ruskin University
18. Sheffield Hallam University
19. Liverpool John Moores University
20. University of Ulster
21. Newcastle University
22. University of Strathclyde
23. De Montfort University
24. Kingston University
25. University of East London
26. University of Dundee
27. Plymouth University
28. Nottingham Trent University
29. University of Liverpool
30. University of Derby
31. Leeds Beckett University
32. Cardiff Metropolitan University
33. Robert Gordon University
34. University of Greenwich
35. University of Brighton
36. University of Portsmouth
37. Glasgow School of Art
38. Birmingham City University
39. University of Westminster
40. University of Salford
41. University of Lincoln
42. Arts University Bournemouth
43. London Metropolitan University
44. University of the Arts London
45. London South Bank University
46. Southampton Solent University
47. University of Central Lancashire

*collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University and University of Manchester

Academia and practice: a snapshot of collaboration in nine UK schools

Birmingham City University
Kevin Singh The Space Studio
Matt Lucas Lucas Architecture
Chris Maloney Re|form       
Rob Annable Axis Design
Jemma Browne Freelance
Alan Budden Eco Design Consultants
Rebecca Chapman Chapman Design
Antony Clerici Clerici Design
Julie Fitzpatrick Design Push
Holly Galbraith Niall McLaughlin Architects
Alexis Germanos 3X Architecture
Patrick Lewis Patrick Lewis Architects
Andy Hilton Urban Synthesis
Chris Marquis Glenn Howells Architects
Ed McIntosh Populous
Tom O’Donnell Tom O’Donnell Architect
Anna Parker Intervention Architecture
Paul Wakelam Paul Wakelam Architects
Olive White Acivico (Birmingham City Council)
Julie Widdowson Severn Architects

Leeds Beckett University
Mark Rist Paolo Cossu Architects
Alex Otiv OMMX
Sarah Mills Group Ginger
Maria Theodorou Director and founding member of the non-profit civic association School of Architecture for All
Simon Warren Project Office (Leeds Beckett University)
Nick Tyrer Pattern Architects
Jak Drinnan Pattern Architects
Keith Andrews HOT Architecture
Mohamad Hafeda Febrik Febrik art and design research projects
Craig Stott Project Office (Leeds Beckett University)
Trudi Entwistle Land Artist
Maurice Shapero Studio Maurice Shapero

University of Lincoln
Paul Clarke Framework Architecture and Urban design
Maria Karaolides Karaolides Szynalska Architects
Jim Dale James Dale Architects
Karolina Szynalska Karaolides Szynalska Architects
Richard Wright ADSDF Architects
Barbara Griffin ADSDF Architects

University of Liverpool
Oliver Schulze Schulze and Grassov
Michael  Wilford founder, Stirling Wilford
Alan Dunlop Alan Dunlop Architect
Neil Swanson Landscape Projects
Jim Eyre Wilkinson Eyre
Iain Ritchie Iain Ritchie Architects
Patrick Lynch Patrick Lynch architects
Alan Berman Berman Guedes Stretton
Nick Ray formerly of University of Cambridge
Jonathan Falkingham Shed KM and Urban Splash

University of Northumbria
Ben Elliott Elliott Architects
Leighton Cooksy FaulknerBrowns
Steve Miller Miller Partnership Architects
Jonathan Bone Jonathan Bone Architect
Will Mawson MawsonKerr
Ben Couture Jardine Couture
Grace Choi Grace Choi Architecture

Plymouth University
Mark Innes Innes Architects
Claire Williams The Mount Studio Architects
Rob Rickey LHC Architecture
Catherine Woods C-design (studio)
Alex D’aubry Stride Treglown Architects
Josh Cole Poynton Bradbury Wynter Cole Architects
Tim Offer Tim Offer Architects
Hayley Anderson Hayley Anderson Studio
Robert Freer Space Design Architecture
Daniel Atkins Crayon Architecture and Design
James Birchett Harrison Sutton Partnership

Robert Gordon University
Gokay Deveci Gokay Deveci Architect
Alan Dunlop Alan Dunlop Architect
Neil Gillespie Reiach and Hall Architects
Simon Leeman Graham Mitchell Architects
Tim Bayman Tim Bayman Architecture
Bill Black Richard Murphy Architects
David Vardy David Vardy Architecture
David Vila Domini Eightyseven Architects

University of Strathclyde
Derek Hill Dress for the Weather
Michael Dougall Collective Architecture
David Fletcher Factory Architecture
Clara Garriga Holmes Miller
Helen Campbell Studio KAP
David MacRitchie David Allan MacRitchie
Richard Graves Graves and Graves Architects
Carlo Guidi Ink Design
Alasdair Tooze Hoskins Architects
Gordon Carswell Glasgow City Council
Colin McNeish McLean Architects
Gordon Murray Ryder Architecture
Richard Campbell  Tog Studio/Woolgar Hunter
Peter Welsh Peter Welsh Studio
Gordon Fleming ARPL Architects
Gordon Murray Ryder Architecture
Chris Stewart Collective Architecture
David Hasson StudioLINK
Gordon MacGregor GRAS
Graeme Nicholls Hoskins Architects
Brian McGinlay NORD
Colin McNeish McLean Architects
Ewan Imrie Collective Architecture
Lizzie Smith Collective Architecture
Rachel Mimiec Visual Artist
Cristian Suau Radical Architecture

University of East London
Carsten Jungfer Zectorarchitects
Felix Xylander-Swannell Zectorarchitects
Clara Kraft Isono Kraft Isono
Satoshi Isono Universal Design Studio
Ty Tikari  Tikari Works
Bruce Irwin Bruce Irwin Studio
Catherine Phillips MPH Architects
Isaac Cobo i Displas Coco Architects
Claude Saint Arroman Coco Architects
Adam Willis Assemble
Lewis Jones Assemble
Hwei Fan Liang Hwei Fan Liang
Christian Groothuizen Christian Groothuizen
Keita Tajima Diamond Architects
Mo Woon Yin Wong MOCT Studio
Christoph Hadrys Patalab
Uwe Schmidt-Hesse Patalab
Dinah Bornat ZCD Architects
Carlo Cappai C+S Architects
Maria Segantini C+S Architects
Maija Viksne C+S Architects
Alex Scott Whitby Studio Scott Whitby
Mark Lemanski Muf
Katherine Clarke Muf
Jamie Baxter Studio Wandevelt
Collin O’Sullivan Studio Wandevelt
Gilles Retsin Eragatory
Isaie Bloch Eragatory
Roland Karthaus Karthaus Design / Civic Architecture Office
Wilf Meynell Studio Bark
Alan Chandler Arts, Lettres, Techniques
Paolo Vimercati Grimshaw


Readers' comments (3)

  • I graduated this year with 1st class honours in Architectural Technology, I already had considerable construction experience and feel the disconnect between industry and academia is significant still. Based on my student experience I would seriously question these rankings. I would also say that the courses do not provide value for money, and for the cost students should be getting more. Since course fees have been tripled has 3x the quality been introduced to courses? Nope, if anything there is too much reliance on arms length VLE's at expense of good quality lectures/ workshops.

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  • One of the many faults with the Guardian table is that it omits both the AA and the RCA.

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  • yep...the stats agree with you ARKitectdesigna


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