Gao, Yun and Orr, Kevin (2015) Architectural students' year-out training experience in architectal offices in the UK. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 19 (02). pp. 175-182. ISSN 1359-1355

This paper investigates architectural students’ ‘year-out’ learning experiences in architectural offices after completing RIBA Part I study within a UK university. By interviewing and analysing their reflections on the experience, the study examines how individual architecture students perceive and value their learning experience in architectural offices and how students understand and integrate what they have learned through two distinct elements of their training: in university and in offices.

The architectural offices that students worked with vary in terms of workforce size and projects undertaken. The students’ training experience is not unified. The processes of engaging with concrete situations in real projects may permit students to follow opportunities that most inspire them and to develop their differing expertise, but their development in offices can also be restricted by the vicissitudes of market economics.

This study has demonstrated that architectural students’ learning and development in architectural offices continued through ‘learning by doing’ and used drawings as primary design and communicative media. Working in offices gave weight to both explicit and tacit knowledge and used subjective judgments. A further understanding was also achieved about what architects are and what they do in practice. The realities of their architectural practice experience discouraged some Part I students from progressing into the next stage of architectural education, Part II, but for others it demonstrated that a career in architecture was ‘achievable’.

This study argues that creative design, practical and technical abilities are not separate skill-sets that are developed in the university and in architectural offices respectively. They are linked and united in the learning process required to become a professional architect. The study also suggests that education in the university should do more to prepare students for their training in practice.

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