Architectural Association AA- Which path should I take?

Jul 12 '13 9 Last Comment
Jul 12, 13 2:10 pm

I want to apply to the AA in the future. I am a student in the arts program at Dalhousie University taking arch classes, and I am planning on applying to the BEDS program. I am also thinking of applying to AA's Undergrad school, but since I am in my 2nd year of uni in September, I'm wondering if I should apply for foundations, or first year etc. I am just really confused as to how they do things at AA.

Many websites have AA ranked as one of the best arch schools in the world. In my brain that means its reputable, and can open doors for jobs all over the world (please correct me if i'm wrong), So my end goal is to go to a internationally recognized school so I have the freedom in choosing where to work.

I also emailed them about their masters degree, and they said their program "does not lead to a qualification as an architect" can someone shed some light on that?


Architect with a suitcase
Aug 8, 13 11:35 am

If you want to become an architect in the UK you have to go through the RIBA system.

Canada has lots of great schools of architecture. You need to check the reciprocity between the Canadian Registration Board and the RIBA /ARB if you want to return to Canada and call yourself an architect.

But why the AA?  It is not considered the best school of architecture in the UK by the AJ magazine or the Guardian Newspaper. 

Top ten UK architecture schools

Bartlett, University College London
Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff
University of Bath
University of Cambridge
Newcastle University
Kent School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes
Manchester School of Architecture
Sheffield School of Architecture
Edinburgh School of Architecture

Aug 8, 13 11:44 am

It is by far the best Architectural School in the UK, however the guardian rankings are for architectural programmes at Universities which utilise all sort of non-sense metrics such as the national student survey to rank them.  The AA is not a University and therefore does not play the league-table game.

There are many post on Archinect about entry into different years at the AA.  

Aug 8, 13 1:11 pm

@Architect with a suitcase- I've heard good things about AA. unless im mistaken. Im really interested in a school which has a practical approach, and reputability globally is important because im not sure where in the world I want to practice.

@TED- could you link me some of those posts about the entry years?

Aug 8, 13 2:19 pm

If you're really interested in a school with a "practical approach" I'd caution against the AA. 

I'd imagine it to be a pretty incredible place to learn about architecture (seriously, just look at the alumni, those currently teaching, the guest-lectures, workshops, publications... The school really appears in a league of its own as far as I'm concerned). But practical? Maybe not so much.

Aug 8, 13 4:05 pm

@IamGray why would you say AA is not practical? I just want a more hands on style and no nonsense learning. I dont want to focus my studies on history, or critiquing others work. I just want to build the skills that will make me a good architect. And what do you mean by its a great place to learn about arch but not being practical? 

Aug 8, 13 5:17 pm

Before answering your question, I'd like to know what it is exactly that you mean by "practical". I don't want to give you any wrong advice.

Also, have you looked through these pages of student work extensively:

Architect with a suitcase
Aug 11, 13 5:50 pm

The AA is a good school.... but the best, that depends on your criteria.... and your wallet.

From my friends working in London, the end of year show that everyone attends ( including the "name" offices)  these days to find good new students is the Bartlett. 

You have to look at where you want to end up working in the world. Our degrees are not like MBA's that are accepted everywhere. If you want to end up living and work in Canada check out what you have to do to be licensed there.  Is there reciprocity between the UK ( ARB) and Canada? 

Aug 11, 13 7:55 pm

I am an ex AA grad, and if this question is still relevant for you, I would say if your description of practical is "I just want a more hands on style and no nonsense learning. I dont want to focus my studies on history, or critiquing others work. I just want to build the skills that will make me a good architect," then I really do think AA is not exactly a place that fits into your narrow description of what a "good architect" is.

This kind of division between history, critique and "hands on style" is exactly the dichotomy AA works against. The AA prepares you with more than "skills". You should check out the work that comes out of the AA and the backgrounds of those that teach there. This does not mean you will not be prepared for practice, its just you will be more than just application of "skills."

Aug 11, 13 9:07 pm

Hey Bleu, 

One doesn't know unless they try it. I am certain what you thought about the AA before was beyond anything that you could imagine in the end.  One doesn't know what they don't know - just jump.

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