The Department of Architecture at Cambridge is an exciting place to study. Regularly lauded as one of the leading architecture schools in the world, students study under the guidance of world-renowned researchers and ground-breaking practitioners. Our innovative design programme – delivered by tutors working at the cutting edge of contemporary architecture – is balanced with outstanding teaching in the history and philosophy of architecture, contemporary culture and urbanism, as well as construction, structural design and environmental design.
The Cambridge Architecture Tripos is oriented around the teaching of design – from the smallest detail to the scale of the city. This involves individual studio tutorials and regular critical reviews in which you are encouraged to explore your own ideas and develop your own approach to design. The studio design projects are supported by a variety of lecture courses and course work that explore architecture in both cultural and technical terms.
In the second year, you will have a choice of specialised lectures, and in the third year you will write a dissertation on a subject of your choice. The design projects are set throughout the year and range from designing small artefacts to major projects exploring a theme in a specific location that you will be expected to visit. In addition to the lectures and the studio teaching, you will have classes in computer-aided design, representation and life-drawing.
At the end of each year you submit a portfolio of studio work and course work in addition to taking written examinations. Success in the Tripos will give you exemption from Part 1 of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) examination, the first step to obtaining the full professional qualification.
King’s has long been hospitable to Architecture and typically accepts 3 or 4 students out of the 45 students in the University reading Architecture each year. Architecture students divide their time between King’s and the Architecture Department at Scroope Terrace, ten minutes' walk up the road. Lectures and project-work take place in the department and students spend much of their time in the studios there, which are open from early morning until late at night.
Supervisions are arranged by the College and generally take place in King's, giving students the opportunity to discuss their work in small groups with experts in the field. With between ten and twelve architects in the College in any year, King's has a strong sense of an architectural community.
Among the College facilities, King's Art Centre provides a very useful, well-lit space and attracts a community of students with an interest in art of all kinds (there is also a dark room for photographers). More generally, the College is itself rich in architectural history, and the extensive College Archives include documents relating to the design and construction of all the buildings.
Fellows at King's in Architecture:
We welcome applications from suitably qualified students at any kind of school, all over the world.
To apply to study Architecture at King’s you need to have an enthusiasm for design and, ideally, an interest in both the arts and the sciences. The ability to draw and an interest in the history of art and architecture are both important. We will expect you to have a knowledge of Mathematics to a least a good GCSE standard, but A-level (or equivalent) Maths is not a necessary requirement. The majority of applicants have studied Art (though again this is not a requirement). Art provides a better preparation for the Cambridge Architecture course than subjects such as Design and Technology or Technical Graphics.
Although there are no pre-interview assessments for Architecture at King's, if you are invited for interview you will be asked to take an at-interview Admissions Assessment which lasts one hour. You do not need to register for this assessment as it will be organised automatically by the College if you are invited for interview. Your performance in the admissions assessment will not be considered in isolation, but will be taken into account alongside the other elements of your application.
Applicants for Architecture will not be asked to submit written work but will be asked to bring a portfolio of work to their interviews. We do not formally ‘mark’ or assess the portfolio but in judging your suitability for the course we will be interested to see the terms in which you discuss your work. The choice of material included in your portfolio is up to you; successful candidates have brought paintings, drawings, prints, photographs and constructions of all kinds, particularly material that conveys a spatial and three dimensional interest. We would not, however, expect to see designs for buildings – that is what you are coming to Cambridge to learn!
Candidates will have two separate interviews, where they will be asked to present their portfolios and demonstrate their enthusiasm for design.
There are no particular books that Architecture applicants are required to read, and students should feel free to pursue their own interests. The Director of Studies in Architecture provides reading suggestions for applicants looking for some guidance. The Architecture Society website includes examples of student work, and the RIBA website has information about events, as well as an Explore Archtecture section.
Events which may be of interest in the year before you apply (year 12 in the UK) include Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences, CU Masterclasses, and King's Open Days. Students from backgrounds where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education might like to think about applying for the Sutton Trust Summer Schools or the CUSU Shadowing Scheme.