-100, +100

-100, +100 is a design unit at Moseley School of Architecture. The unit philosophy rejects the superficiality of contemporary style (which, right now, is either nowhere or in your face) and the distraction of present consumerist technology. Students are asked to make investigations of the existing built environment but only to study buildings which are at least 100 years old. The requirements of our built environment – shelter, communication, dignity, social engagement and resource responsibility – have not changed in this time, but we have been beset by a period of extreme ideologies and irresponsible and unattractive architecture. To avoid the transient fashions of today’s architecture the design proposals will be set 100 years in the future. Students are not asked to propose social or political changes but to design durable and appropriate structures which meet human social needs with responsibility.

Site investigations will look for construction typology, use and spaces in the Bourneville area in South Birmingham, proposed as an ideal community and providing a rich environment of socially beneficial spaces.

How is the Moseley School of Architecture different from other schools of architecture?

Training to be an architect, getting qualified and getting established is a long long journey. Most students enter the degree – known as the part one – with little background in professional practice. Some come straight from school with A levels and an interest in the field and quite a few come from other professions. You see artists, photographers, people from all kinds of backgrounds – but few from the construction industry. Why is this? Simple. When you sign up to be an architect you are looking at seven to ten years of hard work and low wages. People in the trade with the need to pay the rent become developers, project managers or quantity surveyors. The routes are quicker, the money is better and you can work and study at the same time.

Once you have a degree, good or bad, and a portfolio of design work you are not, unfortunately, an architect. You are not even a technician or student architect. You are what is known in the profession as a part one architectural assistant and your next task is to find employment. During times of growth, with busy offices and, presumably, profits, part ones can find work if they can work with the new computer programmes we seem to need and are able put in a lot of hours for low wages. For the employer, the part one provides in-house competition for Indian and Chinese 3D image rendering services. Some part ones don’t get work, some get stuck, some drop out. The work is very different to the design led investigations of study and many people leave or move elsewhere in the industry at this stage.

After a year in office, the student then returns to college and tries to balance work and study to get the part 2, the diploma in architecture. This usually takes two or three years but by now the youngest are 25, others are older. They have relationships, financial commitments and sometimes families too. With a diploma, you are a part 2 in the UK. In Holland you are an architect, but not here. You still need the part 3. This requires a minimum of two years in office experience, of which one year must be post part 2, additional exams and some experience of running a job on site. Working for someone else, as an assistant, it is hard to get the right experience – your office needs to trust you with the responsibility of running a small project. Sometimes part 2’s have to move around to find it. Some are lucky enough or talented enough to get into a practice that supports them, but for many it is a question of waiting around and working for the project leader until the opportunity comes around.

At the Moseley School, we only take in graduates – those with the degree in architecture – and we run a four year part time course that includes both the part 2 and the part 3 which are studied simultaneously. Students are not expected to work as CAD operators for other practices but to take on and run their own small projects and set themselves up as professionals working alone or in partnerships. By running their own jobs alongside their studies they get the experience that will prepare them directly for working as lone architects or as partners or project leaders. Because they have no in office supervision the professional practice tutor can provide support and assess their reports as evidence for their professional experience. By the time students get to the third year they are expected to have completed several small projects, managed their finances, marketed their business and built a client base. Of course, they work with builders and clients too. They also combine the experiences which prepare them for their future role with earning money to support themselves.

In the past there were different routes into the profession. Employees in practice were given development and could work their way to qualification. Now the school route is the exclusive one, but the right experience is required for final qualification. Working for someone else, for many people, may not be the best route to get this experience. At the Moseley School we offer another way, combining work and study to provide the opportunity to qualify directly by the student’s own efforts as an architect.

The Moseley School of Architecture is entirely fictitious

The Moseley School of Architecture

The Moseley School of Architecture is a private architecture school based in Moseley, Birmingham. It is a postgraduate school but unlike other schools of architecture in the UK, students do not train to be diploma graduates ready to serve time as assistants in practice, but complete the course as fully qualified architects competent to work as sole practitioners or as project architects in practice having both the ARB part 2 and part 3 qualifications and becoming registered architects.

Teaching and course structure

The Moseley School diploma combines both the ARB part 2 and part 3 courses which are studied in combination over four years of part time attendance. The coursework is divided into two parts – design and technical knowledge, theory and practice. For the design and technical knowledge all years are taught together in small groups on a design unit system, led by individual tutors, with each unit having it’s own agenda and students being free to set their own project briefs in response to the unit investigation and ambition. Assessment of the design element will be by portfolio and presentation of the final scheme.

The theory and practice branch of the course is taught through a mixture of compulsory and optional lectures, seminars and workshops which will develop the students individual investigations in architectural writing and analysis as well as the understanding of the legal and contractual framework of architectural practice.

Throughout the course students will be expected to work in architectural practice either as sole practitioners or in groups and design and deliver real built projects as part of their practical experience required for their professional qualification. These real projects will be used to form the practical experience and analytic elements of the ARB part 3 requirements for professional practice. As well as the technical and contractual knowledge gained the students are required to develop understanding in the business element of practice including finance and accounts.

Admission policy

Applicants will be expected to have a degree in architecture with exemption from the ARB part 1 qualification. Students with alternative relevant qualifications and suitable experience will be considered and supported to achieve ARB part 1. Attendance is four years part time but may be reduced in cases where the student shows advanced progress.

School philosophy

At the beginning of the twenty first century we find ourselves in a situation of both looking forwards into an imagined consumerist utopia and backwards into a state of economic and political regression. The concrete ambitions for international development in terms of global health, culture and emancipation of the second half of the twentieth century have given way to inequality, violence and ideological backwardness. As architects and educators the founders of the Moseley School believe that the profession of architecture cannot tolerate or condone this economic and political culture and that by creating and disseminating an architectural culture which is socially relevant, environmentally responsible and founded on the development of the architect’s real craft and knowledge, we are able to positively influence our social, political and economic environment in a way which reflects the twenty first century we would like to see.

Please note that the Moseley School of Architecture is entirely fictitious