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Tue 17 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

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Learning for life

Architect explores some of the best postgraduate architecture universities from around the world.

Architect explores some of the best postgraduate architecture universities from around the world.

If undergraduate architecture training provides a groundwork of theory and practice that gives architects the skills and confidence to enter the working world, it is postgraduate studies that hone these skills furher through in depth specialisation; giving practitioners cutting edge ideas and proficiency to approach the ever-changing built environment.

Design is at the core of architecture, but professionals have long felt-and research has supported this notion-that once architects are in the field, working on similar projects day in and day out, their growth as an architectural designer is often diminished.

Good design results from a combination of a deep understanding of culture, an ethical engagement in society and respect for the creative skills needed to establish a sustainable built environment. - The American University of Sharjah's design philosophy

Architects already working in the field can benefit greatly from mid-career architecture courses designed to reinvigorate their design skills and allow them to remain at the top of their game.

And similarly, if you have completed your BA in Architecture and you wish to complete your Masters straight away, many universities offer programmes that are designed specifically to make a smooth transition from undergraduate level into the working world.

"Given the pressing need for postgraduate-level training in order to prepare local practitioners for their respective professions, universities like the British University in Dubai allow students to conclude their Masters with a work-based project," says Richard Smith, the Technical Director for Atkins in the Middle East and Asia.

British University in Dubai, UAE

The Faculty of Engineering at the British University in Dubai (BUiD) provides both practical and research programmes to support the development needs of the Middle East.

The university offers full-time and part-time Masters programmes in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment and Systems Engineering in collaboration with the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff and The University of Manchester.

"Essentially, BUiD was the region's first research-based postgraduate university and they offer specialised MSc programmes across several fields of academia. Atkins works closely with BUiD students and faculty to encourage practical, industry-based research, shared educational tools and market data," says Smith.

Speciality:Sustainable design

Featured postgraduate course:Master of Science, Sustainable Design of the Built Environment

Head of department:Professor Bassam Abu-Hijleh, head of Sustainable Design of the Built Environment

Cardiff University, Wales

The Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) was voted as the UK's top school of architecture in the Times Higher Education Supplement, and its holistic approach to design embraces all aspects of architecture.

WSA is currently expanding its taught Masters programme, offering course options in Environmental Design of Buildings, Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design, Urban Design, Sustainable Energy and Environment, Building Energy and Environmental Performance Modelling.

The Design Research Unit within the WSA is a nurturing space where design and research come together to produce innovative and sustainable built solutions. Real, workable design projects are carried out, producing buildings designs that can are pushing the envelope in practical solutions.

Speciality:Sustainable design

Featured postgraduate course:Master of Science, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Head of Department:Professor Phil Jones, chair of Architectural Science and Head of School at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Australia

RMIT focuses on exploring the emergence of innovative practices in the context of international architectural debate, promoting a constructive environment for learning through project-based research and critique.

What differentiates RMIT's Masters programme from other universities is the Urban Architecture Laboratory in which students undertake urban architectural electives in conjunction with spatial information architecture electives. The RMIT mission is "to provide a rich and challenging scholarship environment for students, academics and creative practitioners engaged in the activity of designing."

RMIT also offers short courses in 3D Max, AutoCAD, Photoshop and Rinoceros to keep architects' computer aided design skills at the forefront.

Speciality:Spatial information architecture through computer aided design

Featured courses:Short courses in computer aided design

Head of department:Melanie Dodd, Professor of Practice Coordinator and Senior Lecturer of design and social context University of Cambridge, UK

Architecture has been studied at Cambridge University since 1912, and the Faculty of Architecture is respected for pushing boundaries and diversifying to address issues within the built environment.

The university's Master of Philosophy in Engineering for Sustainable Development was launched in 2002 and now, in its seventh year, this course has been aiding architects and engineers to find the best possible sustainable solutions.

Especially designed to attract topflight engineers early in their careers, the course enables professionals to engineer buildings for sustainable development through enhanced technical skills and a holistic understanding of a sustainable development.

Similarly, a part-time Masters in Interdisciplinary Design, built especially for architects, is a course for design, strategy, leadership and sustainability in architecture, ensuring a multiple-voiced approach to built solutions.

Speciality:Sustainable engineering and interdisciplinary design

Featured course:Master of Studies, Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment

Head of department:Sebastian Macmillan, Course Director of Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment. University College of London, UK

The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment was opened at the University College of London (UCL) in 1841, and has since then been a prominent force in international architectural debate. Students, staff and alumni contribute to architecture around the globe through designs, buildings and books.

Through a stimulating teaching environment, new waves of architecture have been explored throughout the years; "This is a school where people constantly design, invent, explore, write, draw, teach, speculate, theorise, map, film, critique, analyse and imagine," says Professor Iain Borden, the Director of the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

The Masters programmes include Master of Architecture, Master of Architectural Design, Master of Architectural History, Master of Architecture Urban Design and Master of Science Urban Studies.

The Master of Architecture, Urban Design employs a programme of design-based research that brings together the latest theoretical research on the spatial structure of the urban environment in conjunction with the built form.

Speciality:Urban design

Featured course:Master of Architecture, Urban Design

Head of department:Professor Iain Borden, the Director of the Bartlett School of Architecture

Columbia University, New York, USA

The Graduate School of Architecture, Preserving and Planning (GSAPP) of Columbia University has offered a number of specialised architecture programmes since it opened in 1881.

All programmes stress the need for analysing and understanding historical trends in architecture in order to move forward with new ideas. The school's preservation programme, which was America's first, continues to train professionals in the understanding of historic architecture, artefacts and landscape.

"The architect's buildings are placed in the city like the books of a thoughtful novelist might be placed in a news stand in a railway station, embedding the possibility of a rewarding detour amongst all the routines... the architect crafts an invitation to think and act differently," says Mark Wigley the dean of GSAPP.

GSAPP offers Master of Architecture, Master of Advanced Architectural Design, Master of Architecture and Urban Design, Master of Historic Preservation, Certificate in Conservation of Historic Buildings among others.

Speciality:Restoration and conservation

Featured courses:Master of Science, Historic Preservation

Head of Department:Mark Wigley, Dean of the School of Architecture Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA

MIT's School of Architecture + Planning (SA+P) is recognised as a top school of architecture and design in the USA; pushing boundaries in the built environment through its graduate and postgraduate courses.

There are many masters programmes available at MIT, including the Master of Architecture and the Master of Science in Architecture Studies; which includes courses Architecture and Urbanism, Building Studies, Design and Computation and the Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture.

The programme was established in 1978 at both MIT and Harvard University and the course is recognised as being at the forefront of urbanism in the Islamic world. The course is dedicated to the study of Islamic architecture, urbanism, visual culture and conservation.

Speciality:Islamic Architecture

Featured course:The Aga Khan Programme for Islamic Architecture

Head of department:Nasser Rabbat, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture, MIT

The American University of Sharjah, UAE

The School of Architecture and Design (SA+D) forms part of the American University of Sharjah and is committed to ensuring that graduates have the skills and design philosophy to make significant contributions to the Gulf region within a broader global context.

"Good design results from a combination of a deep understanding of culture, an ethical engagement in society and respect for the creative skills needed to establish a sustainable built environment," states SA+D within its design philosophy.

The Master of Urban Planning is an interdisciplinary course that is rooted in architecture, engineering, public health, law and social sciences, enabling urban planners to combine design, analytical and communication skills to manage a sustainable development.

The MUP seeks to empower students with the application of multidisciplinary knowledge in the field of architecture and urban planning.

Speciality:Urban planning

Featured course:Master of Urban Planning

University representative:George Katodrytis, Associate Professor, Director of Scholarship and Outreach

Waseda University, Japan

Waseda boasts the oldest Architecture Department of all the private universities in Japan, and each year the Waseda alumni contribute to the talent within large design firms such as Nikken Sekei, NTT Facilities and the Ishimoto Design Office.

Through a variety of postgraduate programmes, Waseda deals with the relationship between architecture, urban design and engineering, providing specialised courses that enable architects to reach expertise in seismic design, vibration engineering, seismology/wind engineering and advanced disaster prevention planning, among many other specialisations.

Speciality:Seismic architecture and engineering

Featured course:Postgraduate studies in seismology/wind engineering

Head of department:Shigeru Satoh, Professor of Urban Design and Planning

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