THEME: The Future of Architectural Education

How Will Architects be Educated in 20 Years Time?

BY Dominic Wilkinson | October 2012

Welcome to our inaugural series of think pieces, in which five experts share their views on one of the key issues to emerge from our 2011 \The Future for Architects\ report report; How will architects be educated in 20 years time? We hope that these broad range of speculations about the future of education will provide opportunities for reflection, and you are invited to join the debate using the form on the right hand side. You can comment on both the theme in general and individual author’s response, if you want to react to an existing comment, please make reference using the ‘title’ field. You are required to input an email address to submit a comment, but you won’t be contacted in any way and it will not display. If you would like to join our mailing list, please sign up using the \home page\

Despite the risks inherent in predicting the future, I suggest that in twenty years time there will still be architects and they will, in all probability, still be called architects, because like many inclusive yet imprecise things it is a title for a variety of roles; a shorthand that people find useful.

Assuming Architects still exist then they will need to be educated. The generic nature of undergraduate degrees provides the stability (albeit with the distinct possibility of being squeezed into 2 calendar years) that should ensure their persistence. Curriculums at BA level will change in tandem with technology, design and educational fashion, evolving into a non-professional Architectural Studies format.

In contrast the nature of post graduate and professional education, part 2 and part 3, will become increasingly pluralistic. Students will study in research led universities, in teaching practices and in a rump of ‘traditional’, professionally focussed schools of architecture. They will cover everything from disaster technologies to damp proof courses, and the time they take to do so will be determined by them.

Dramatic changes in climate and political/economic systems will demand highly skilled specialists capable of reacting to fast changing situations; multi-disciplinary inter-national research centres will supply the masters and doctorates for these specialist graduates.

Financial strictures and the globalised agglomeration of practices will create new centres for teaching through practice. More than just RIBA teaching practices, these will be the power houses for large projects, new private schools of architecture embedded in work and with enormous resources and clear aims to attract graduates.

The traditional school of architecture will persevere offering a route for the general practitioner, a place to make designs for buildings and question the nature of the subject. The variety of themes in this reduced number of schools will still cover forms and ideas and will still seem in a state of constant self-referential crisis, but they will persist.

The notion of professional education through a single prescribed time-defined route will be gone. Regional clusters will offer final professional accreditation along with specialist business focussed Masters courses and will draw students from all the above sources – an example being the RIBA and Bradford University School of Management’s recently launched Architectural and Construction \MBA\

The ultimate result of these changes will be Architects taught in Architecture Schools, or Teaching Practices, or Research Centres, and we will have our ‘surgeons’, ‘physicians’ and ‘general practitoners’.


Dominic Wilkinson is a Senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University. He is President of the Liverpool Architectural Society and Chair of the North West region RIBA education committee.