Final year student Chloe Loh shares her reasons for choosing UCD to finish her studies in Architecture.

As a transfer student who has come to the Masters in architecture after completing my Undergraduate at a different university in the UK, I have got used to the question ‘Why UCD?’ For this blog I will answer this question by both offering advice on the factors to consider when choosing a Masters while also outlining the specific qualities of the Masters at UCD that made it the best choice for me.

After completing my three year undergraduate in the UK I spent three years working for different architectural practices in London, and it was actually in one of these practices in London that UCD was first suggested to me due to my academic interests in architecture.

Theories of the Domestic_Apartment design

An important element distinguishing UCD from other universities is its research based approach to most modules, especially the dissertation we write in final year. These modules allow students to investigate their own interests and develop them into written arguments or effective design proposals; students at UCD are thus encouraged to be self-directed. This is something that has allowed me to project my personal interests into every project and to develop my own style and design method – an important characteristic distinguishing UCD from many other schools.

From study to boudoir_Apartment design

The small size of the department means that students and staff are all very familiar with each other, this helps to facilitate student-led projects at the school. Most recently I led a team of students to organise a lunchtime talk on ‘Women in/ and Architecture’, which featured a panel of guest speakers. This initiative become a much larger project and with support from staff we have received specialist funding from UCD, allowing us to have speakers flying in from across the world for a summer exhibition and lecture. There have also been opportunities to get involved in a number of exhibitions during my time at this school. These have been organised by staff and put together by students to celebrate and share the work produced each semester with visiting professionals.

Exhibition of student work

Since the year size is relatively small at the school it means there is a generous student to staff ratio, which allows for individual design tutorials from tutors. Most design tutors at the school balance teaching, leading their own practices, curating and lecturing at UCD and around the world, whilst academic staff also balance personal publication or research projects alongside their teaching role. Due to these varying means of practice at the school, the quality of teaching is fantastic. Alumni of the school are also increasingly gaining international recognition. This year Grafton Architects are curators of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, the biggest event on the architecture scene.

Final year students in our studio space

It is a great time to be part of the Irish architectural scene. I will be graduating into the professional world at a time where Ireland is very much at the forefront of the international stage. It is a small course quietly producing talented and careful architects, where staff are open to nurturing the ideas of students, both in and outside of the studio environment. So if these are characteristics you are looking for in a Masters course, UCD might be worth considering!

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