Postgraduate Course in Architecture

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Do you want to work in the rewarding, creative field of Architecture? The role of the architect is to design and co­ordinate building projects, from an extension to a house, to a complete housing estate or office block, based on a budget and brief that has been supplied by the client.

What You’ll be Working On

The architect will decide the physical appearance of the project, advise on materials to use and the feasibility of client’s demands. Plans are designed, approved by both sides, at which stage contracts are drawn up and planning permission is sought.

Once the drawings and specifications are completed, the architect generally helps the client select a building contractor, and it is the contractor who co-ordinates all the workers on the site to construct the building. The architect continues to advise the client, supplies additional design information if needed, and checks the work from time to time to make sure that it is being built in accordance with the plans, until the whole job is complete. There are many skills involved in architectural work, including technological know-how, visual awareness, design ability, and the ability to interpret the client’s ideas for the building, and translate them into something tangible.

Many architects work for themselves, or on contract, so they must also be able to manage their business affairs and, if necessary juggle several jobs at the same time. Because their work can usually he seen from the outside, it is the highest profile in the public’s mind – when a building looks well, the architect is applauded, but when it looks awful, the architect will probably find that it’s the only piece of work he’s done that everyone knows and talks about!

Architectural Technology

Working as support to qualified architects, technicians prepare drawings, (usually with the aid of Computer Aided Design -CAD), make models or do research work. There are five IT courses available, all with high entry points, which reflects the popularity of these courses and the good employment opportunities. None of these courses, however, is a short cut to architecture. DIT will recognise a fully qualified technician and allow them to be exempt from one year of their Architects degree.

Anyone thinking of applying for a place in a school of architecture or architectural technology should try and get a couple of week’s work experience in an architects office before they make up their mind.

About the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland (RIAI):

The RIAI is the professional body which represents about 95% of qualified architects practising in Ireland. It also has an Architectural Technician membership. The RIAI accredits and recognises the five year architectural degrees offered by UCD and DIT Bolton Street, and having either of these qualifications qualifies a person for Associate membership of the RIAI. To achieve Registered Membership the architectural graduate must also complete at least two years of approved practical training and then pass the RIAI or NUI Examination in Professional Practice, only then are you a fully qualified architect. The RIAI offers a wide range of services to the profession and to the public, including ‘Shaping Space’, the transition year programme which now offers many young people their first opportunity to discover what architecture is all about.

Learning the Skills

Only the five undergraduate qualifications in architecture are currently legally recognised in the Republic of Ireland by the RIAI. Once you’ve completed a degree, you must obtain at least two years of approved postgraduate professional training, then successfully complete an examination in professional practice specified by the RIAI.

Accuracy and neatness in your presentation is important in architecture, as are drawing skills, but these are increasingly easier to obtain with the aid of computers. An interest in visual arts would be an advantage both in college and working life, but is not essential. College is the time to experiment without budget restraints, as you may not get the time or opportunity to do so once working.

Getting the Job

The majority of architects are self-employed, but most newly qualified architects will need to seek a some years work within a practice to gain experience before opening upon their own.

While there is no longer the need to travel in order to gain employment, many architects still advise that time spent abroad, assimilating other countries’ culture and architecture, can he a very good thing to bring with you when you come to work in Ireland. There is also the opportunity for architects in practices to carry out private work in their own time.

There are many different ways an architect can win contracts – through contacts and friends, through the building trade, and. also successful completion of one job can lead to recommendations. There are also opportunities for architects to win competitions for contracts, either by open entry or invitation only, but if you are not the successful candidate, the remuneration can be poor, as only nominal fees are paid for the designs that are not selected.

Some architects specialise in areas such as landscape or historical building renovation

Skills & Attributes

  • Visual awareness.
  • Good drawing and visualisation skills.
  • Able to work as part of a team.
  • Able to discuss, share and effectively convey your ideas.
  • Interest in people and sociology.
  • Good interpersonal skills.
  • Business management skills.
  • Good personal organization.
  • CAD (computer-aided design) skills essential.

The ‘Ups’

  • Training prepares you for a range of different tasks.
  • Varied, interesting and sociable work.
  • Opportunity to contribute something tangible to society.
  • Skills highly transportable.
  • Opportunity to develop areas of personal interest.
  • Good opportunities at the moment.

The ‘Downs’

  • Given the level of training and status of architects, profession not exceptionally well paid.
  • Employment climate can change for worst very quickly.
  • Often long and unsociable hours.
  • Will usually have to compromise on ideas.

Career Advancement

Advancement comes with experience and contacts, and can mean that the job becomes more of a management role, rather than hands on design. As you advance, each contract tends to be a bigger project with a higher profile, and therefore more lucrative, but can also give the architect a chance to pursue their own ideas.

Architects have training that would enable them to branch out into many areas such as furniture design, interior design, graphic design, painting & sculpture or research and academia. They are not just designers of buildings, but work with landscape as well as structure. Through their close links with, and knowledge of the building industry, architects have also been known to move successfully into property speculation.


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