SEIKA's Architecture Course deals with everything from personal residences to commercial buildings, public facilities, and urban planning.
The keyword for learning is design: Architecture means planning, designing and constructing buildings. However, social values have diversified and today people demand more individuality in their lifestyle. What architecture needs to provide now is not merely good appearance or rationality. Architects have to start from imagining who the people are who will live in a place or use it, and should know the history and background of the land or region. Architecture for the future requires designing of new societies and ways of living through creating appropriate space.
That is why SEIKA is working with practicing architects to foster spatial designers who can design living spaces comprehensively. Students engage with interior and furniture design while simultaneously designing buildings in consideration of the relationships between people and space, space and objects, and cities and environments. The teaching staff includes active architects, in whose studios students can gain practical work experience. It goes without saying that the curriculum also leads to students becoming eligible to apply for qualication as Grade One and Two certified architects. The course creates space designers who design homes that strengthen families, and who plan cities in order to rejuvenate communities.
The first class that students take is “Introduction to Architecture”, which teaches them what an architect is and the kind of work that is involved. Learning about the industry, they look ahead to graduating and gain an understanding of the way they will learn on the course.
The first year training teaches the fundamentals of spatial design. Beginning with human dimensions as a base, the spatial scale gradually expands as the subject of design is developed, moving through lighting, fashion, furniture and interior design. In addition to attaining foundational skills in furniture or interior design, students' awareness of the relationship between people and space deepens. Students then also learn the elements of architecture through classes on planning and general construction, while a class on Japanese architectural history cultivates foundational learning as an architect.
Since projects may involve numerous people, proficiency in presentation is also indispensable for architects. Students thus also learn how to draw architectural plans and build models, deepening understanding of how to convey their visualizations to other people. The year sees students acquiring the fundamentals of multiple aspects of design, the first step towards becoming an architect.
A building is not merely a box. It exists within the relationship between nature and society. People's lives take place inside it. For this reason, designing buildings is equivalent to designing relationships between people, and between people and nature and society. In their second year students tackle classes where they explore such hypothetical cases as architecture in environments where it rains every day forever—or architecture where all the residents of a city hate each other. Designing for extreme conditions such as these develops the imagination and thinking powers, and deepens consideration of natural environments and relationships within society.
Students also study ecology and space, since an environmental perspective is indispensable for architecture, while also learning about urban-planning laws and government systems, and taking part in projects to solve real issues in specific regions today.
Students also research hypothetical spaces, such as those that appear in cinema and literature, which they then attempt to recreate digitally. Such classes are experiments in broadening the possibilities of architecture and space. The year is a period spent studying the meaning of diversity in terms of space and the people who inhabit it.
The most effective way to learn how to become an architect is by practical study under a top professional. SEIKA's Architecture Course has such a system, whereby third and fourth year students work in the on-campus studios of SEIKA's professors, who are also leading architects in the field. Each studio announces its own projects and then students select which studio to enter based on their interests and future career hopes.
Another unique feature of the course is its open jury system, where students' work at the studios is appraised by a panel not only of tutors in the faculty but also highly-reputed external architects, giving students the opportunity to have their work assessed widely by professionals.
Other diverse classes in this year teach students how to distribute their work as products, and how to create "living space" through interior design and furniture. Along with internships at planning offices, this is a highly practical year.
Continuing to belong to each studio, students now work on their final graduation projects. SEIKA's definition of architecture in this course is interpreted very broadly, allowing students to explore any scale of spatial design or architecture with a diversity of goals. This results in graduation projects that are equally broad in scope. Students may present, for example, agricultural spaces based on the shape of a rice paddy, a theatre, fusing traditional and contemporary architecture, or they might create an urban-planning project based around improving health, such as by integrating physical exercise into daily life. Other possibilities could be fashion designs as life-sized spatial design, and artworks where video presents a space. These graduation projects are also assessed by open jury panel. More than the culmination of four years of work, the projects require students to demonstrate their approach toward the future, serving as departure points to launch them into the wider world.
Following four years of studies, the course ends not with graduating students—but with individual architects already on their way to a career.
On the Architecture Course, students who take the designated classes can become eligible to apply for qualification as Grade Two certified architects upon graduation. And after two years of additional practical work experience, they are also eligible to take the Grade One qualification exam. While attaining the specialist knowledge and techniques necessary to be an architect, during the four years on the course students also acquire the skills and thinking abilities for suggesting spatial design that creates whole new societies and ways to live. It opens up the path towards being an architect who improves families and regional lifestyle through the spaces they design and make.