I just realised that I've spent monumental amounts of time responding to emailed inquiries about what it's like to study at the Kunstakademiets Arkitektskole - The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts - in Copenhagen, and it's taken me almost a year to conclude that I should just make a compilation of answers on my blog. This is going to be my go-to guide, and any new questions will be answered and added as they come up. Click on the questions to see my answers.
I attended KA from 2009-2011. I was in the first class of graduating students from the dedicated English program - the group of guinea pigs so to speak. Since this time a lot of changes have happened at the KA - they merged with the design school, possibly have changed some of their facilities, and hopefully improved their programs and response to foreign students. Please understand that when I write about my experience it is a reflection of the way things were when I attended.
5. Do you think that studying at the K.A. made if more or less difficult to find work? In other words, do you think there are disadvantages to a degree from the K.A.? / Has the reputation of the K.A. helped you get work?
In my opinion there are two typical attitudes of architecture students.
> The first set is made up of the kind of people who see only the positive side of everything and take everything as it is given to them, because 'everything is a learning experience!' They make loads of friends and seem well integrated because they go drink beer with the locals. They are buddies with the instructors. They are involved in setting up exhibitions and attend a lot of openings and seem to network very well. They get decent marks, or even really good marks. You often feel that their projects don't really make sense but possibly they are working on some higher mental level that you aren't able to access. Converting philosophy into architecture is one favorite pastime of this group.
People who have spent all their energy on doing well in school may find that it doesn't translate very easily into doing well professionally. At some unique points, if you are lucky, these two spheres of school and work will overlap and 'what you want to say' will fit directly into 'what they (the instructors or whoever) want to hear.' But in general if you always try to produce work that is praised by academics, you will have spent very little time developing your own design method.
This group, if they continue their architectural career, will be doing it in Academia. I predict that you will see a very high number of M.Arch grads getting PhD's in Architecture within the next 5 years.
> Then there is the second set. People in this group gradually see all that is wrong with a program and assess the limitations of the situation. They irritate the crap out of the first group because nothing is ever good enough and they seem critical of everything (yeah... this is me.)
But even though they may not get along quite so well with the instructors, they see education as only one small piece in a long career, and adjust their perspective accordingly. School is not so all-important. Impressing people is not so all-important. Making buddies with the other students and attending parties is not so all-important. What is important is using the time in school to explore your interests, develop parameters for design that hold value for you, and to measure your way of doing things against other people.
When people say you should make all your mistakes in school, they really mean it. School is for focusing on your design method and experimenting with how to reach a satisfying and well developed design solution. That is what will stick out for employers in the end. Not pretty pictures, not the name of your school.
I hope this guide has been helpful, and I welcome any more questions via email or the comments section.