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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Q&A: Architecture

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Ms Mary Ann Steane

I am the Director of Studies in Architecture at Murray Edwards and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture. My research on natural light considers the factors affecting human perception of the visual environment in order to examine the pivotal narratives architects construct with - and about - light. A fruitful, decade-long dialogue with teachers at the Valparaíso School, Chile, has led to a series of studies addressing this topic - and a 2010 joint exhibition, ‘Paseo’ - that consider the implications for architectural education looking forwards.

What's special about Architecture at Cambridge? 

Architecture is the only design-centred course in the University with ‘Studio’ forming the core of the course. Beyond helping you fulfil all the demands of the professional curriculum established by the UK Architects Registration Board and the Royal Institute of British Architects, the development of strong writing and research skills is a key goal. Whatever career you pursue subsequently they will stand you in good stead alongside the other abilities and interests the course develops. Besides fulfilling the UK professional curriculum we are looking to ensure our students leave with a deep awareness of the role played by the built environment in bringing about social, political, cultural and technological change.

How does Murray Edwards College support its Architecture students?

Murray Edwards regularly gives help with the additional costs of studying architecture like the purchase of modelling materials, drawing equipment and printing. Equally important, in recent years, internships with BDP, a large architecture practice in London, have been on offer each summer to architecture students at Murray Edwards College. Some students have returned to work for BDP once they have successfully completed their degree. 

What do you enjoy most about working at Murray Edwards College? 

The College looks to help all its undergraduates find their feet at Cambridge, and offers a supportive and stimulating academic environment throughout their time here. This means that although architecture students are taking a department-based subject they know they can also get help in College with specific issues like essay writing. Although most of my time is spent in the Department of Architecture, I am always made to feel very welcome at the College meetings, events and dinners I attend.