The Royal Institute of British Architects has confirmed the accreditation of the Masters of Architectural Design programme of Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, validating its Department of Architecture as a full architectural school offering comprehensive training in the discipline.

“We can now take a high school graduate and train him or her completely as an architect,” said masters programme director Christian Gänshirt. “We are very proud of our amazing faculty and students for helping us to reach this point with the first graduating cohort.”

Founded in 2011, the Department of Architecture at XJTLU received international RIBA Part 1 validation for its BEng Architecture programme in 2015, a first for a mainland Chinese university. Following a visit by a RIBA board in November 2017 and the final decision of the RIBA Education Committee in February 2018, the Masters of Architectural Design programme has now been unconditionally validated for international RIBA Part 2.

Masters graduate Xiaohan Chen (pictured above), now pursuing a PhD with the Department, gave a statement to the RIBA board in which she praised the Department’s strong teaching team, friendly and helpful staff and technicians, international student body, and working environment that is ‘like a second home’:

“The big difference about studying here is how approachable the staff are,” said Xiaohan. “The professors are friendly and really help us a lot.”

The RIBA visiting board comprised of several architectural luminaries including: Professor David Dernie, Director of David Dernie Architects and Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster, London; Lilly Kudic, Head of Architecture at London South Bank University; and Xiaofeng Zhu, founder of Scenicarchitecture and Visiting Professor at Tongji University School of Architecture & Urban Planning, Shanghai.

[above: current masters student Stanislav Ten (left) with visiting architect Nuno Gonçalves Fontarra of Dutch firm Mecanoo.]

The board commended in its official report the Department’s ‘extensive facilities’ (housed in the South Campus Design Building, the interiors of which were designed by the former Head of Department Professor Pierre-Alain Croset), ‘engaged staff and student body’, and ‘evident improvement in studio outputs over the three initial cohorts’ of students.

It also recommended several action points or areas for improvement that programme director Christian Gänshirt is seeking to address: “One key aim is to build on previous exchanges and workshops to forge more and deeper connections with other international schools of architecture,” he said. “We’re also planning to step up student exchanges with our partner institution, the University of Liverpool, UK,” he said.

“I want us to be the best architecture department in China offering a truly glocal experience,” said current Head of Department Professor Gisela Löhlein, “and with our diverse and highly-qualified academic staff and excellent facilities we are well-placed to become exactly that.”

For more information about the Department of Architecture at XJTLU visit its official webpage.

story by Danny Abbasi; photos by Weiqian Zhang

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