Sunday, 2 September 2012

Studying Architecture at Cambridge

Outside Emmanuel College
Once I had become familiarised with college routines I had to turn my attention to the School of Architecture based at 1-3, Scroope Terrace: three Georgian houses at the top of Trumpington Street in Cambridge. It consisted of three floors of studios, lecture rooms, library and staff accommodation. There was also a small shop where you could purchase equipment, including second-hand drawing boards. Standard architectural equipment in those days consisted of drawing board, T-square, set-square, pencils, drawing pens, rubbers and watercolour paints.

The number of architectural students in the whole University was no more than about 20 so you can imagine there weren't many in each college. The only other student from my college was a dependent of the founder of the college itself, Sir Walter Mildmay. He was also called Walter and the two of us shared the next three years within the college, the department and even in the Boat Club.

My tutor in the department was Mr Alex Hardy who saw me through three years of study. The School of Architecture was not, at that time, fully recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). After three years its students had to gain entry into another architectural school for the final two years of study. Cambridge was more academically minded with History of Architecture more prominent than innovative design. By the time I had completed the course things had changed dramatically. A new Professor had been installed, Leslie Martin, who had achieved fame as the designer of the Royal Festival Hall.

My final two years were spent at Durham University's School of Architecture, based in Newcastle. My tutor, Alex Hardy, suggested I apply. I am very grateful to him because it was during those two years in Newcastle that I met my future wife, Eileen.