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Course Description

Architectural technologists are a key part of any construction team, qualified to lead construction projects from design through to completion.

At ARU, our Architectural Technology degree course focuses on the link between building design and production. It gives you the technical understanding to bridge the two – and take the lead on major built environment projects.

In our specialist model-making studios and out on site visits, we’ll explore the technology of architecture. You’ll become adept at fine-tuning the design of buildings so that they’re truly usable, liveable and sustainable.

Architectural technology has four main themes: technology, design, management and practice. By studying in the School of Architecture at ARU, you’ll get the skills you need to work in each area. Together, we’ll explore the scientific and technical aspects of building design. Focusing on materials, function, production and the environment, our course will help you to think about building design in terms of ‘buildability’, sustainability and performance.

You’ll learn to turn designs into reality using traditional and digital modelling and testing techniques.

We don’t just learn in the classroom, though. Regular site visits and field trips give you first-hand insight into the industry, and the chance to make professional contacts.

As well as looking at the practical side of construction, we’ll cover business and management, regulatory issues, procurement and contract administration – so that, as a graduate, you’re ready to play your part in a successful architectural practice.

TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

3 years full-time

Year 1

History and Theory of Architecture (Introduction)

You will consider key historical and recent examples of architecture and related writings to help you form your own views on contemporary design, including your design work, in a range of appropriate cultural and artistic contexts. The module focuses on a different topic each week, and you will gain knowledge about architectural history that will open your eyes to the built environment and make you appreciate architecture more fully.

Architecture and Planning Design Studio A

This module introduces you to the creative process and skills required within the architecture and architectural technology professions. You will develop a range of graphic communication techniques, including freehand and technical drawing skills. We will refine your ability to understand and produce simple professional technical drawing, as well as developing your appreciation of the extent of information required in the process of planning, designing and constructing a building. You will have the opportunity to investigate; space and form, materials, structure, construction and technology. Throughout this module you will develop your drawing skills relating to scale, proportion and the human body.

Architecture and Planning Design Studio B

This module complements your learning from Architecture & Planning Design Studio A. You will develop a range of graphic communication techniques, including freehand and technical drawing skills. We will refine your ability to understand and produce simple professional technical drawing, building on your appreciation of the extent of information required in the process of planning, designing and constructing a building. You will have the opportunity to investigate; space and form, materials, structure, construction and technology. Throughout this module you will develop your drawing skills and explore the issues relating to scale, proportion and the human body.

IT and Communications

Students entering Higher Education will need specific study skills to enable them to maximise their learning potential and take advantage of opportunities available both in the academic setting and workplace. This module is intended to be both preparatory and supportive, building a strong foundation for learning and later development. You will gain Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills for information management and presentation purposes and will be encouraged to use contemporary ICT methods for research and for the production and presentation of reports, in a style suitable both for university coursework requirements and the commercial environment.

Elements of Construction Design

This module is designed for students of construction, surveying and architecture to introduce them to some of the basic analytical concepts and processes involved in the design of structures. Students will develop analytical skills which will allow them to carry out basic structural calculations. Students will also be introduced to basic 2D drafting techniques using industry standard software. This will allow them to effectively interpret technical drawing and give them the skills which can be applied to their specialist discipline area in later modules. Skills in this medium are highly sought after in the construction industry. BIM will be introduced to the student and students will gain an appreciation of technology and the role of the designer in the construction process and have an understanding of the design process. The assessment for this module will take the form of a portfolio which will include CAD drawings and basic structural analysis such as bending moments, shear forces and reactions. It is important that sketches are used in the portfolio as a means of communicating the concepts.

Construction Technology

This module introduces Architectural Technology students to general construction knowledge and practical skills required to evaluate and technically draw UK domestic scale buildings of average complexity. It explores the theory and practice of appraising the design and production of buildings their elements and constituent components in an integrated way through research and detailed technical drawing. The module will also introduce knowledge and skills required within the designing of components, their performance specification, life-cycle, quality control, regulatory standards together with an appreciation of their on-site buildability and environmental impact.

Building Technology

This module is designed for students of construction, surveying and architecture with little and/or no prior knowledge of building construction, services and material properties. You will learn the common materials and methods of construction of both new and traditional housing, by considering in turn each of the main elements of a building's structure. You'll also study the requirements of the internal environment, so as to understand how services installations contribute to user comfort. Other basic aspects such as the personnel involved, health and safety requirements and specialised terminology will be illustrated as appropriate to support this. You'll acquire knowledge related to domestic construction and be able to justify why different materials are used in the built environment.

Elementary Survey Skills

Develop the necessary site related survey skills for students entering the construction industry. You will gain a theoretical understanding as well as hands-on practice in the use of both traditional and contemporary instruments used to set-up and control the most common elements of construction. You will also learn the basic off-site calculations necessary to prepare the site, quality and/or survey documentation to meet specified tolerances and employer requirements. The skills you will gain here are expected from the most junior of site engineers and managers, so will be valuable for your future career.

Year 2

Architectural CAD

You will get hands-on training in some of the most up-to-date software used within the industry. You will use intelligent object-oriented design methods to create virtual models of traditional residential and commercial buildings. You will gain an appreciation of the substantial benefits such systems can offer in terms of client, design flexibility and Building Information Modelling (BIM). The skills you will gain in this module are vital to your professional development and industry expectations. We will keep you up-to-date with current software packages so you will be at the cutting edge of the sector.

Site Studies and Planning

Gain an understanding of the inseparable nature of place and context, and how this affects the design of new buildings and a sense of place. You will investigate the influences of physical environment in its historic, present and future context, and study the legal and planning constraints that affect the built environment. Exploring a site, you will learn how to analyse and evaluate elements of townscape. In particular, you will consider the design elements that contribute to urban form and place shaping. As part of this process, you will develop your drawing and sketching skills, providing an enhanced understanding of the place, spaces between buildings and the urban environment. You will examine design procedures and processes and develop a proposal for a new building and place within the context of an existing townscape.

Site Studies and Design

Gain an understanding of the design of buildings, spaces and structures within their existing context, and how this affects the design for new buildings within their setting. You will carry out a survey of an existing building, taking into account its history and detailing. Developing the terminology of buildings, you will learn how to develop the ability to analyse and evaluate the elements of design and built form, and how design affects setting. You will advance your drawing and sketching skills to assist in design analysis and widen your understanding of the effect of design on the built and historic environment. You will develop your ability to form a critical point of view and justify your own ideas, both verbally and with the support of drawings and other graphic skills. Our project-based module will see you encompass studio work and engagement with site visits and tutorial reviews.

Design Technology 1

You will explore technology strategically, as well as using it to deliver detailed solutions, and the importance of economics in technical design. You will gain an appreciation of materiality, and develop your technical drawing techniques. You will also explore rationalised building methods alongside methods of specification. You will produce detailed technical drawings and technical reports, including the rationale behind the drawings and their technical specification. We'll assess your progress by means of illustration reports and related oral presentations.

Design Procedures

This module is delivered via the latest RIBA Plan of Work, including Building Information Modelling (BIM) and the skills required in managing building procurement from inception to completion. You will focus on the collation and presentation of design, technical and contractual information required for the professional planning and management of the design. You will also develop communication and creative skills in client briefing, preliminary architectural design and feasibility - in particular by studying the relationship between social processes, buildings and architectural design in various ways, from theoretical studies to site visits. In addition you will explore the implications of building in the city from the perception of the client, the builder and the public. You will enhance your management, presentation and problem solving skills to give definition to creative thinking of a more theoretical nature. Alternative design option appraisals will be developed in groups. Individually, the full process of professional design procedures is explored. You will also develop your oral, as well as two- and three- dimensional presentation techniques related to the design options appraised.

Modelling Sustainable Architecture

You will gain an insight into some of the issues and design processes associated with the design of sustainable architecture. You will have the opportunity to work as a member of a design team working on a number of modelling tools to simulate the environmental performance of buildings. Learning is based on the Building Research Establishment's BREEAM approach to the design of responsible architecture; considering the effects a building has on local resources and global warming. Aspects of heating and electrical energy use, pollution, occupancy comfort, transport, and embodies energy are investigated and combined to produce a building design that will have the minimum impact on the natural world. The work focuses on low energy low impact passive design solutions to environmental problems. Both the passive and active design features are explored and exploited to produce an environmentally responsive building design. Teaching is delivered by blended learning through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), so good access to the internet is essential.

Advanced Construction Technology

You will develop a broad understanding of the way we build our commercial and industrial buildings. Leading on from the study of domestic construction, you will consider the functional requirements of single-storey industrial sheds and multi-storey framed structures in concrete and steel. In addition, you will examine the affects on the construction process of the latest legislation in relation to fire and health and safety. You will receive a great deal of guidance to help develop your skills.

Environmental Building Performance

The main approach for this module is a scientific one, focusing on the analysis of a problem or set of problems, followed by the synthesis of a solution. Considerable emphasis is placed on the use of environmental criteria to assess a building’s thermal, visual and aural performance. You will explore a number of scientific methods, with a limited amount of practical experiment-based work; technical solutions for lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning a building; and the passive design features of a building.

Year 3

Project Evaluation and Development

The module provides the student with the opportunity to explore the various issues that need to be evaluated when considering a building development from inception until final completion and retention and/or disposal of the building. The context and content of this module integrates knowledge and skills obtained from previous management and design modules. It examines them in a holistic manner and explores their complex inter-relationships. Issues related to the client, the site, planning, financial appraisal, design technology, legal, health and safety and environment will all be examined within a theoretical and practical framework. The module develops the student's ability to comprehend the totality and implications of the development process and to make reasoned value judgements as to its potential feasibility. This is achieved by a detailed examination of local planning policies for the site coupled with a financial analysis of the proposed scheme by use of traditional and modern forms of valuation techniques. The module also focuses on project appraisal, pre construction processes, construction and post construction processes, marketing disposal and evaluation. The module is project based with studio teaching which is undertaken by various strategies such as formal group lectures, group seminars and individual tutorials. Site visits are arranged where appropriate to underpin student knowledge and understanding of practical issues. Joint staff and student criticisms and presentations occur throughout the delivery. Employability skills Students will assess a site for future development opportunities in a manner that satisfies a potential client's need in terms of financial reward, design, procurement, management and cost in use or final disposal of the completed project. Students will improve their communication skills both in terms of report writing and oral presentations to their peers and tutors. Analytical skills will be developed through employment of financial appraisal and risk management strategies.

Architectural Technologies Research Project

This module looks at the nature of the research project and its relationship with the Honours degree and Professional Body recognition. Students will look at a well defined industry problem considering the following: Approaches to research and research methods - Undertaking a literature review, recording, analysing and referencing; An awareness of the technological theories that inform and influence the practice of architectural technology; Formulating a research question and aims and objectives; Data collection & research methods, including case study, action research, archival analysis; Analysis and presentation of data; Drawing appropriate conclusions; Managing the research process and your tutorials.

Conversion and Adaptation of Buildings

Study a real-life building and investigate the principles of developing a holistic approach to the adaptive re-use of buildings. You will develop an understanding of user needs in relation to economic re-use of existing buildings by extending, adapting, altering and conserving buildings. You will need to be aware of the concepts of conservation, restoration and preservation along with the realities of extension, conversion and adaptation options for existing buildings in order to optimise long-term sustainable economic viability of buildings. You will consider appropriate and creative technology and their impact upon economic appraisals. You will complete an in-depth case study either individually or as a group. You will also study the impact of modern design concepts, landscaping, low energy, environmental and sustainability issues to meet enhanced user-needs. You will need to research and contextualise architectural history, together with the components and materials of construction previously incorporated, to consider and justify future life-cycle options. It will be important for you to acquire a range of analytical skills to measure existing and proposed building performance from a number of standpoints and be in a position to make recommendations after short-listing a range of re-use options to be considered by a building owner. Your case study will involve a real-life building (or range buildings) in need of economic regeneration and enhancement, in order to advise the ‘client’ on potential options through a written report, an illustrative portfolio and a succinct design-pitch to illustrate and justify your recommended design proposals.

Technological Building Analysis

Gain the skills to evaluate and analyse technological design approaches for historic and contemporary buildings. You will explore the theory and practice of appraising, selecting and justifying the design and production of buildings, their elements and constituent components. You will explore and research buildings from textbooks, journals and on-site physical analysis to undertake a reverse science approach to learning. Focusing on the strategic framework related to structure, environmental services and sustainability, you will examine the relationship between the major elements of construction, such as the road, walls and floors, and critically examine these though sketching, report writing and technical drawing. You will also develop the knowledge and skills required for the designing of components, their performance specification, life-cycle and cost analysis, production processes, quality control, and associated trades. You will link this with an appreciation of on-site buildability and raw material extraction, molecular characteristics and environmental impact.

Construction Technology and Innovation

This module focuses on current construction issues and trends of a technological nature, including the critical review of methods of special construction. We will assess your learning through a formal presentation, during which you are encouraged to use a variety of illustrative methods to support your work. This is backed up by written proposals containing elements of both group and individual work.

Dissertation/Major Design Project

This module recognises Architectural Technology, the technology of architecture, as an essential function routed in design and a major influence on the project process, building performance and building construction. Its primary aim is to develop Architectural Technology students as future design professionals responsible for ensuring that design solutions result in buildings and structures that are constructed economically and perform efficiently and effectively within the context of user needs and environmental, regulatory and budgetary requirements taking account of the fundamental link between design and the technological, environmental, cultural, economic and social parameters. An elemental approach to architectural technological design will be examined in an integrated way within the context of a student led Major Design Project & Strategic Reports. The module develops knowledge base and practical skills, acquired in previous module learning, to evaluate client requirements, architectural design & synthesise technological solutions for medium complexity buildings. It explores the theory and practice of appraising, selecting and justifying the design and production of buildings and their constituent components.

Professionalism, Values and Ethics

Built Environments affect and concern everyone in society and can cover areas including ecological, aesthetic, technological, economic and historical values and ethics. You will look at both modern and older building scenarios and debate value-systems and values and ethics analysis. We will ensure we include focus on relevant building scenarios, such as the Olympics and development plans for areas such as Chelmsford. We will ask questions such as: who is doing this, why, for whose benefit, to whose disadvantage? You will consider scrutiny is in terms of ecological, aesthetic, technological, economic, historical and similar factors and justification of choices made in planning, architecture and design are discussed in terms of goals, actions and outcomes. You will explore underlying values/ethics such as: is what is being done 'good' or 'right' in terms of practical results, fundamental principles, or other objective criteria? This leads on to developing your own views on built environment values/ethics, both as a person and as a future professional.

Project Management

Develop your knowledge of basic management theories, and demonstrate your relevance and application in the planning, organisation and control of construction projects. You will research appropriate theories, skills and competencies related to the life cycle of a project from the client's conceptual vision, through the project identification and definition stages, applying appropriate project implementation, execution and control processes to effect successful closure of a project. You will also research and develop operational techniques used in the planning, scheduling and control of projects. You will consider the holistic integrated nature of the project management role on a construction project develop the specialist techniques which question the usual functional and organisational boundaries. This will help you appreciate the strategic relevance of project management, and the unique features of project management which distinguish it from other forms of management.

Careers

As an expert in the technical side of architectural design, you’ll be ready to work in a range of architectural and construction roles.

There are plenty of options to choose from. You might manage building projects, making sure that budgets and deadlines are met, the correct materials are used, and regulations are satisfied. You might pursue opportunities in manufacturing and processing, town planning, management, or Government institutions.

You could set up a practice on your own, join an established architecture or design practice, or take freelance jobs with firms such as property developers.

Whichever path interests you most, you can be sure that you’ll graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities that industry needs. We work with employers, and they help us review what we teach and how we teach it – offering hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

Graduation doesn't need to be the end of your time with us, of course. If you’d like to continue your studies, we offer a range of postgraduate degrees including our MSc Construction Management and MSc Town Planning. Take advantage of our Alumni Scholarship and get 20% off your fees.

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