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Revolutionising Architectural Education | EP 10

In this episode of the ArchAdemia podcast we sit down with the amazing Victoria Farrow.

…Subject lead at the Leicester School of Architecture, De Montfort University. She shares our passion for nurturing the next generation of architects to lift up the entire industry. She’s also an activist for improving inclusivity and diversity in the industry, which has led her to create Architecture Plus. She’s also the founder & chair of the popular ‘BIM in’ series, which is now a registered charity, introducing BIM to a wide audience of aspiring and seasoned designers. And finally, she is the co-founder of the Association of Architectural Educators. So, she knows what she’s talking about!

Podcast write-up

Table of Contents

A Journey into Architecture

Victoria Farrow’s path into architecture was untraditional and influenced by her father, a self-made architect. Despite initial resistance, she pursued architecture, driven by a curiosity for art and design. Her educational journey took her to Nottingham University, where she navigated the challenges of architectural studies, from the harsh critiques of undergraduate studies to finding her confidence during a supportive placement year. Farrow’s narrative is a testament to resilience, illustrating how early career setbacks, including redundancy during the 2008 financial crash, propelled her towards entrepreneurship and ultimately, into academia.

Championing Educational Reform

In academia, Farrow found her calling. She became an advocate for enhancing architectural education, motivated by her struggles as a student. Through her roles at various universities, Farrow has focused on creating supportive environments for students, emphasizing the importance of the student experience in architectural education. Her work with the Association of Architectural Educators (AAE) and efforts to establish a community among architectural educators underscore her commitment to advancing architectural pedagogy.

Navigating Challenges in Architectural Education

Farrow’s conversation moves towards the complexities within architectural education, particularly highlighting her views on recent changes by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). She expresses concerns about the removal of Part 1 accreditation, fearing its implications for inclusivity and the professional landscape. Farrow advocates for a balanced approach that not only welcomes diversity into the profession but also addresses the realities facing students as they transition into the workforce.

Empowering Students through the BIM-in Series and Architecture Plus

Beyond her academic roles, Farrow has initiated projects like the BIM-in Series and Architecture Plus. The BIM-in Series, now a charity, focuses on bridging the gap between education and practice in Building Information Modeling (BIM), offering students hands-on experience and networking opportunities. Meanwhile, Architecture Plus aims to highlight success stories within the architecture community, particularly those overcoming significant challenges, thereby fostering a more inclusive and supportive professional environment.

Future Directions and Advice for Students

Farrow concludes with actionable advice for architecture students, stressing the importance of choosing the right educational environment, embracing hard work while maintaining well-being, and the crucial role of networking from the onset of their careers. She encourages students to view architectural education as a foundation for diverse career paths, underscoring the significance of perseverance, openness to learning, and community engagement.

Through her experiences, initiatives, and reflections, Victoria Farrow paints a picture of architectural education as a field ripe for innovation and growth. Her story and insights offer valuable lessons for students, educators, and professionals alike, highlighting the ongoing need for adaptability, support, and advocacy within the architectural community.

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