#CoursesGalore: Architecture

Norhan bin Mat Yusoff, Head of the Department of Architecture at the School of Architecture and Built Environment in KLIUC explains what to expect from architecture.
Norhan bin Mat Yusoff
Head of the Department of Architecture in the School of Architecture and Built Environment School at KLIUC
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Landscape architects appreciate nature, enjoy working with their hands and with other people and possess strong analytical skills. Creativity, artistic nature and other technical talents are also desirable to be successful in landscape architecture.

Most Important Point

Architecture is about ideas, concepts and creativity in integrating various disciplines. Architecture is the activity of designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures by a person or a computer, mainly to provide shelter. This frequently includes the design of the total built environment − from the higher level of how a building blends with its surrounding landscape to the smaller level of architectural or construction details.

Architects strive to create a structure which is functional, economical and practical, without neglecting its artistic and aesthetic aspects.

Architecture was first developed out of the changes between needs (eg shelter) and ways (eg building materials and skills). As knowledge began to be formalised through practice, architecture became a profession. Historically, architecture began in the ancient world, and changed through the eras to what it is now.

Inside Architecture

Architecture courses are based on the five major aspects related to the practice of the profession. These are:

  • Design: architectural design, civic or urban planning and design, and landscape theory of design
  • Technology and environment: building material and construction, building services, environmental studies, and structures
  • Cultural context: history and theory of architecture, human sciences, and philosophy
  • Communication: architectural drawing or drafting, and project and report writing
  • Management practice and law: building law and contracts, building economics, ethics, project management, and professional practice and specification.

Generally, in Malaysia, the core subjects for architecture include:

  • Technical drawing
  • Basic design
  • Introduction to built environment
  • Introduction to theory and history of architecture.

These core subjects will provide basic understanding, and develop the creativity and skills necessary for architecture. Technical subjects such as technical drawing and basic design need students to spend a large amount of time in the drawing studio due to their requirement for drawings and models.

From there, students will typically study:

  • building construction
  • architecture design
  • computer-aided design (CAD)
  • graphic communication
  • building services
  • structure design
  • measured drawing
  • introduction to modern architecture.

Choosing a Course and University

For architecture courses, facilities such as drawing and CAD studios are important. Students should also look for an architecture course which can provide exposure to professional architectural practice that should be integrated into the curriculum.

Is It for Me?

Students who are good in art would have the advantage but you should remember that architecture is not all about beautiful sketches and drawings − which can now be produced using CAD software with minimal human intervention. Being good in art and passionate for creative and innovative design in buildings are personal characteristics that will come in handy. However, it is important to note that architecture is about ideas, concepts and creativity combined; integrating the beauty or aesthetics of the arts and precision of sciences and mathematics in making ideas and sketches into buildings for realistic use.

Working in Architecture

The minimum academic qualification for becoming a professional architect in Malaysia ranges from a diploma in architecture to a bachelor's or higher degree in architectural studies or architecture.

It is essential to ensure that these programmes are accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Board of Architects (Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia, LAM). People who wish to enter the architectural job market after a diploma can get work as a technical draughtsman, assistant designer, technical assistant, visualiser, model maker and architecture photographer, to name but a few.

Architectural sciences or LAM Part I graduates can choose anything from technical assistant to assistant director.

Architecture graduates can start out as a designer, project manager, resident architect, interior designer, assistant architect. Careers available upon satisfactory completion of Part III, two years of practice and the appropriate exams are principle architect, principle designer, design consultant and urban designer.

You also have the option to register as a professional architect (Ar). Two years of professional experience will allow the graduate to sit for the professional exam before becoming registered and permitted to legally practice as a professional architect.

The Future of Architecture

The ratio of registered architects to population reflects the development and economic growth of the country. In Malaysia, this ratio is about 1:16,000. For other developed countries such as the UK and Australia, the ratio is about 1:2,000, while it is about 1:5,000 in Singapore. Thus, there is a definite demand to produce graduate architects and professional architects in order to achieve a better ratio of registered architects to population and raise the standards for architectural talent in this country.

Interesting Fact!

Some look at high-rise buildings as damaging to the environment. However, ecologist and architect Dr Ken Yeang designed Menara Mesiniaga in Subang Jaya, Selangor, in 1992 using bioclimatic techniques, 'vertical landscaping', external louvres to reduce solar heat gain, natural ventilation and lighting, and an 'active intelligent building' system for automated energy savings.