Most schools of architecture prefer you to get a good general education in a broad range of subjects before concentrating on architectural topics; and architectural drawing and building construction are taught from foundation level in every architecture course. In addition, the kind of drawing skills required by an architect are different from those taught in Technical Graphics. However, if you really enjoy these subjects, do well at them, and reckon that they will give you your best chance of getting the points you need, then go ahead.
What do you do if a portfolio is required and you haven't done Art for your Leaving Certificate?
Architectural Design Portfolio-Mahesh N R
Technical Graphics work alone will not make a suitable portfolio. If you did Art for the Junior Cert you could include a small number of items done at that time, but recent examples of work done in your spare time or during summer holidays are more useful. If you have an art, craft or design related hobby - sketching, photography, woodwork, ceramics, for example - include samples or photographs.
Many community colleges and colleges of art or design around the country offer Summer Portfolio Preparation courses. If you are not doing Art at school it may be a good idea to take one of these.
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If you do this two summers in succession you will have plenty of time to develop and to build up a good portfolio. Another option, if you are taking a year out to work, perhaps, between Leaving Cert and Third Level is to do a part-time evening Portfolio Preparation course. This has the added benefit that you will be one year older when you start your degree course, and maturity is a distinct advantage for a student of architecture.
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Interviews do not allow a lot of time for looking at your portfolio, so quality is more important than quantity. The demands an architecture course makes on students are different to those of most other disciplines. Your days will be very full and most of your time will be spent in the studio or out on study visits, where, with the help of a team of design tutors you will develop your awareness of the environment, analyse buildings and open spaces, and work on a series of design projects for spaces, structures and buildings of increasing complexity.
In studio you will also acquire skills in drawing, CAD and model-making.
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In parallel you will be attending lectures. Schools of architecture vary somewhat in the subjects covered in the first year: some require you to take maths or physics and others don't. But in any school of architecture you can expect to cover during your five years: history and theory of architecture, structures, building technology, environmental science, surveying, computer applications, building economics and professional practice. In some schools you will receive a B. Some schools do not award an intermediate qualification but they offer an exit award should you choose to leave the programme on successful completion of Third Year.
As per item 2. The RIAI does not accredit on the basis of less than five years of architectural education. The advantage of receiving an intermediate qualification or exit award prior to the completion of five years of study is that it allows you to make a change in career direction if you find that you are not happy with architecture.
But there are many other career or advanced study opportunities. Once you have successully completed five years of architectural education with an award from a recognised school you will be eligible to become an Architectural Graduate member of the RIAI. During your first two years you will want to get direct experience of as many aspects of the job as possible, to prepare yourself for your professional practice examination. Once you have completed a minimum of two years of approved experience you can undertake an Examination in Professional Practice. Details of these are available here.
These examinations cover subjects such as professional ethics, planning and building legislation, contract law, project management, practice management, etc.
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Once you have passed the examination in professional practice you are eligible to apply for admission to the Membership of the RIAI and the Register for Architects. Second level students, parents and careers guidance counsellors, or people considering a career change, often ask if there is any other way to qualify as an architect. In Ireland there is no part-time route to qualification as an architect.
Schools of Architecture have procedures for the admission of students transferring or stepping up from other courses and graduates from other disciplines. If you have already covered some of the course subjects at the same level you may be granted some exemptions, or be admitted to the course at Second Year or higher level. But once admitted you will have to follow the full-time course.
The Building Control Act allows admission to the Register for Architects for people who have at least 7 years' practical experience working at the level of an architect, are at least 35 of age and have passed a Register Admission Examination. It will be difficult to find work at the level of an architect if you have no qualifications to begin with and in the Examination you will have to demonstrate that you have reached the same level of knowledge, skill and competence as someone who has had a full architectural education.
But candidates who have completed the Examination Process find it challenging, exciting and a valuable educational experience in itself. Once fully qualified, it is the responsibility of any professional to ensure that his or her professional skills are kept up to date. Scientific knowledge, technology and the law, for example, keep changing. So you will be expected to have a continuing involvement in courses and personal study throughout your working life.
In addition, some architects choose to expand the range of skills they can offer to clients by getting additional qualifications in disciplines such as landscape design, urban planning, interior design, furniture design, architectural conservation, project management or law. Architecture is an exciting and satisfying profession if you are suited to it; very stressful if you are not.
Designing a building involves many steps: visiting and surveying the site; discussing with the clients what kind of building they want; developing a preliminary design for the building and refining it to make sure that it meets the clients' needs and budget and complies with the regulations; applying for planning permission; preparing detailed drawings and specifications; obtaining quotes from builders; administering the contract between the client and the builder and checking that the building is being constructed in accordance with the drawings; making sure that payments to the builder are in order.
Almost fifty percent of architects have their own practices, so are self-employed.
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In that sense you can be your own boss. But no building gets built by the architect alone. Except on the smallest jobs a building project involves a whole design team which may be made up of one or more architects, technologists, structural engineers, building services engineers, quantity surveyors, and planning consultants.
Then there are consultations with fire, planning, health and safety, environmental and other authorities depending on the type of building involved, and discussions with the manufacturers and suppliers of building materials and components. When the design is finished and building starts, you will be dealing with the main contractor and a team of specialist sub-contractors on the site.
The size of projects can vary enormously, from a small house extension to a multi-million pound complex. You may be designing a brand new building or renovating a historic one. Some projects may take only a few weeks to complete, but others take many years. So you will almost always be working as part of a team, juggling different projects, spending some time at the drawing board or computer, some on site or at meetings. Since drawings and images are the main method of communication, it is not as language-dependent as many professions, and this makes it easier to work in other countries.
Throughout your studies and your working life you will be aware of buildings being built all around the world. Most architecture students use their summer holidays as an opportunity to travel or work abroad and see the architecture of other countries. Others arrange to study abroad for a while, often during their fourth year. Spending some time working abroad after graduation is very common indeed and, provided the Irish economy is in good shape, there is no difficulty in coming back to work in Ireland.
Once you qualify as a professional architect the variety of work open to you is wide. You can work for yourself, or as part of a team in a small or large private practice, or in the architectural section of a Government Department, Local Authority, Semi-State or commercial organisation. You can specialise in certain types of building, or concentrate a particular aspect of the job, such as design, technology, architectural conservation or project management, depending on your own interests, abilities and opportunities.
Some architects choose instead an academic career, involving themselves in teaching and research. Career possibilities are very much dependent on the state of the economy, and the employment picture can change very quickly. When things are bad the building industry is disproportionately affected.
During the s a high percentage of architectural graduates had to find jobs abroad, which they did without difficulty. In the s the position reversed and until there was a shortage of architectural graduates. In the position reversed again, and this time jobs abroad are also scarce. The situation has changed again in the past few years and empolyment opportunities are more promising.
A good measure of current employment opportunities is the number of positions advertised on RIAI Jobsearch. Given that it takes at least seven to eight years to become fully qualified, so it is impossible to tell when you start what the jobs position will be when you finish.
The RIAI has no current information on salaries in the private sector. They vary with experience, responsibility, market demand and location. The websites of employment agencies often contain information on current salary levels in private practice. Salary levels in the public sector are fixed according to rank; variations within any rank depend on years of experience at that level.
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Civil Service Government Department Salary Scales Salary level within each range depends on qualifications and length of service. Local Authority Salary Scales Salary level within each range depends on qualifications and length of service. A fascination with buildings and design, visual sensitivity, the ability to think in three dimensions, to analyse complex problems and arrive at creative solutions are all essential.
It is unusual to find all of these qualities in one person, but there are opportunities within the profession for people with different strengths. It is difficult to tell in advance if you have the aptitude for architecture, because there is nothing that you experience at Second Level that is anything like it.
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