Increasing numbers of undergraduates from the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University decide to return to the department for postgraduate study – one third of the current Master of Architectural Design cohort graduating in 2020 are returning students.
Students cite teaching quality, excellent facilities, and a friendly and supportive atmosphere as their reasons for returning to XJTLU.
Ran Zhang was initially attracted to architecture because of his interest in drawing.
“I then discovered that I can turn my ideas into reality through architecture,” he said.
Zhang started at XJTLU in 2013, studied in Liverpool through the 2+2 study route, interned for a year at a Shanghai architecture firm, and then returned to XJTLU to study for a masters programme. During his internship he worked on site analysis and concept development, assisting senior architects with their design briefs.
He appreciates the collegial and non-hierarchical culture of the Department of Architecture, explaining that the atmosphere is very good.
“Students and tutors are like friends, and exchange ideas freely,” he said.
Lihan Huang (pictured above) has also returned to XJTLU to complete her postgraduate degree in architecture.
“At school, I enjoyed both art and mathematics, and I thought of architecture as being a combination of both,” she said.
“Now, I realise it’s so much more than that.”
She studied in Liverpool, and said her first two years at XJTLU were invaluable to prepare her for study at a British university. Following her undergraduate degree she completed a two-month internship at Beijing architecture and design firm PLAT ASIA, working on digital modelling for a shopping mall in Xi’an, construction of which was recently completed. She then took a short-term position at an architecture studio refurbishing old buildings into co-working spaces.
In their first semester, masters students completed a design project for the refurbishment of Yangshupu Power Plant, a decommissioned coal power station in Shanghai. The challenging scale of the project was a direct reflection of the scale of projects typically addressed by architects working in China, who typically address this type of tasks in teams.
“We had to think about the relationship between the site and the larger urban context,” Zhang said.
“That is what architects mean by ‘working at the urban scale’.”
Both students agree that communication skills are vital for architects, and that their time at XJTLU and University of Liverpool have helped them develop these.
“Architects have to work with structural engineers, acoustic engineers, and other architects,” Zhang (pictured above) said.
“Of course, communication isn’t just about words. For architects, drawing is another language to us, and we have to convince people about our ideas through our visualisations.”
Dr Davide Lombardi, associate professor in the Department of Architecture and director of the Master of Architectural Design programme, said XJTLU offers a unique programme for masters students.
“Our students are exposed to a mix of cultures and approaches in between Asia and Europe, with the benefits of both a XJTLU degree, able to open the doors of a career in China, and the RIBA validation, a world-wide recognised architecture body,” he said.
He noted that the Department of Architecture now offers a ‘2+2+2’ study route, where newly-enrolled undergraduates can reserve a place in a masters programme from the start of their degree, subject to performance review.
By Danny Abbasi, Christiane M. Herr and Davide Lombardi; photos by Wenrui Chen
For more information about the Department of Architecture and programmes of study, visit the Department website.