4 universities shaping modern architecture and the built environment

Ulster University
Source: Ulster University - Belfast School of Architecture & The Built Environment

Look around, and you’ll find that architecture is connected to almost all aspects of the physical world around us. And it’s more than just the built environment — architecture is also a reflection of cultures, societies, and lifestyles of the past, present and future. In today’s contemporary world, we can still witness the aesthetic and rich history of ancient societies through the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, thanks to the architects of old, who worked hard to leave tangible evidence of their own culture behind.

Beyond this, today’s architects are called up to do much more, i.e. to tackle our many urgent environmental challenges. The core of addressing these issues lies in the way we approach construction and development. And to effectively solve these challenges, it is imperative for visionary leaders to focus on seeking sustainable solutions.

Whether you are interested in joining the fight against climate change or manipulating your surroundings into something that could last the tests of time, check out these four universities that are setting students up for success in their future architecture practice and research:

Ulster University

The School of Architecture & The Built Environment provides degrees covering a full range of professions with officially accredited courses, making graduates more employable. Source: Ulster University

Ulster University

Gone are the days when architects were limited by the tools of their trade. At Ulster University’s Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment, the sky’s the limit for aspiring architects when it comes to tools, resources and technologies.

Located in Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, the school has invested in a range of workshops, learning resource centres, and studio places. Cohort sizes are kept small so students are given keen attention by faculty members. All undergraduate and postgraduate programmes are professionally accredited, which provides graduates with an edge in the built environment employment market and often helps to fast-track career opportunities within the sector.

As graduates, they stand out for being pioneering, innovative and creative — just like their programmes. The school offers research-informed programmes that address the development of a sustainable built environment through quality education. At the postgraduate level, these programmes range from Architecture, Real Estate and Planning through the construction disciplines of Civil Engineering, Surveying and Project Management to the safe use and efficiency of the built environment through Architectural Engineering, Energy and Environmental Health. The programmes offered include Architecture – MArch, Civil and Infrastructure Engineering – PgDip/MSc, Construction Management – PgCert/PgDip/MSc, Digital Construction Analytics and BIM – MSc, Energy Storage – MSc, Fire Safety Engineering – PgDip/MSc, Global Strategy in Environmental Health and Sustainability – MSc, Planning and City Resilience – MSc, and Real Estate – PgCert/PgDip/MSc.

Regardless of what programmes students choose, they will learn about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the contributions they’ll make as a student and a graduate in the built environment. To learn more, explore the Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment website to learn of ways you can achieve architectural excellence.

Welsh School of Architecture

Students at WSA are welcome to conduct impactful research during their studies. Source: Welsh School of Architecture/ Facebook

Cardiff University

Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture (WSA) aims to make an impact by solving real-world problems. One of the most compelling projects WSA researchers have carried out was in 2009 and 2010, where they designed and built the first affordable low carbon housing in the UK. The project was so successful that the Welsh government decided to invest 91 million pounds to incorporate sustainable designs into more than 1,400 new homes across Wales.

Sustainable design is at the forefront of WSA’s approach. The university boasts real impact in these four areas — sustainability and energy, industry performance, heritage, communities’ well-being and societal justice — can only be achieved by in-house teamwork, and collaborations with the government, industry, and non-governmental organisations. 

At WSA, students can conduct impactful research, develop software that improves industry performance, engage with communities, and even campaign to save historic buildings from being demolished thanks to the outstanding support Cardiff University offers — assistance from faculty members, investments in technological infrastructure, and an array of specialist research equipment.

“Though our research and teaching cover a wide spectrum of topics and aspects of architecture, our mission as a School is to contribute to the creation of a built environment that enhances people’s lives now while contributing to the wellbeing of future generations,” says Juliet Davis, Head of WSA.

University of Strathclyde

This Department of Architecture is located in the heart of Glasgow — one of the UK’s largest cities. Source: University of Strathclyde Facebook

University of Strathclyde

At the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Architecture, architecture and urbanism meet and are taught to students in a multi-disciplinary nature. The department’s strength lies in its ability to carry out meaningful research in areas like sustainability, urbanism and global cities, architectural design and conservation, construction law, and digital construction.

This is in part, due to the faculty members of the UK’s leading technological university, who bring with them not just knowledge but a wealth of experience in the field. For example, The Head of the Department, Professor Timothy Sharpe, is an architect and a researcher with expertise in low-energy design and ventilation. Other faculty members — like Dr. David Grierson — are experts in other fields within architecture, which just builds a tapestry of resources for students lucky enough to learn from them.

The department firmly believes in giving their students an edge, hence why they continuously seek to establish close links and partnerships with creative design, construction, and engineering industries. This provides networking opportunities and career prospects to students, one of the most valuable things an institution can offer its future graduates. Students don’t just get to study abroad to add to their CV, they can collaborate with researchers outside of Scotland too.

University of Nottingham

From unique Creative Energy Homes to modern studio spaces, facilities at the University of Nottingham brings out your best design skills among architecture and built environment students. Source: University of Nottingham/Facebook

University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham ranked 10th in the Complete University Guide’s History of Art, Architecture and Design subject league for good reason — students here not only learn practical skills and gain the confidence they need to excel in their future professions but also  thrive intellectually.

Faculty members at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment aren’t just lecturers. They are leading professionals in their respective fields pioneering world-class research. Picture projects that are leading the way in establishing net zero transport, improving healthcare through enhanced technologies or developing next-generation materials and advanced manufacturing processes. 

Beyond this, facilities bring out the best design skills among architecture and built environment students. Picture unique Creative Energy Homes and modern studio spaces. Students get to use tools at the Centre for 3D Design, model-making facilities, and Design+Build studio to design their passion projects. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International