Architecture Schools and Programs in South Africa
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Architecture Studies in South AfricaArchitecture is a popular field of study throughout the world, including in South Africa, home to a number of excellent universities and some of the most eclectic architectural structures on the African continent. Today, students participating in a study abroad program can pursue a portion of their architectural education while studying and living for a time in South Africa, a program that combines a fresh academic experience with an exciting African vacation.
South Africa, officially known as the Republic of South Africa, is a country situated at the southern tip of the African continent, with 1,739 miles (2,798 km) of coastline stretching along both the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. South Africa’s neighboring countries include Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana to the north; Swaziland and Mozambique to the east; and within the country is Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by total area, and with a population of nearly 53 million it ranks 24th in the world in terms of population.
A multiethnic country, South Africa encompasses a wide variety of cultures, languages, religions and traditions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in its constitution’s recognition of eleven official languages, which is among the highest of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, the latter originating from Dutch and serving as the first language of most white and colored South Africans. Though English is used commonly in public and commercial life—including being the language of instruction in most South African schools—it is actually only the fourth most-spoken language among the South African people. Approximately 80 percent of the population is of black ancestry, divided among a variety of groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status in the country,
Architecture Education in South Africa
The Architecture education in South Africa is similar to what one would find in other parts of the country and is offered as both an undergraduate and graduate degree program at many of the country’s major universities. The undergraduate program, which leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in the discipline, generally spans 4-5 years for full-time students, while the Master of Science Degree program in Architecture typically spans an additional two years. Most Architectural students will continue their education through the Master’s Degree level, which is seen as the minimum education required to secure gainful employment in South Africa and beyond.
The coursework involved in the Architecture degree programs combine instruction in architectural theory and history with hands-on design practice. The initial phase of the program, often called “Introduction to Architecture,” features hands-on studio time, workshops and lectures. Students have the opportunity to examine samples of architecture throughout history and learn how architects integrate theory and practice into their work. Topics of interest to aspiring architects include composition, preservation and environmental and urban design. Lectures also touch on building construction and sustainability. Students may also embark on research into the cultural, social and political impacts of architecture.
The coursework leading to an Architecture degree also introduces students to the tools and concepts professionals use to create and modify their designs. The design process requires digital and non-digital representation tools. Students learn to use graphic layouts and physical models when designing structures. They also learn how to draft architectural plans, using a variety of modalities, including paper and pencil drafting and drawings and computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Why Study Abroad in South Africa
Those looking for something unique and over-the-top exciting will simply love studying in the beautiful country of South Africa. The eclectic mix of people that call South Africa home enables students to learn about and embrace a number of different cultures, belief systems and languages, and the variety of tasty cuisine ensures that they can always find something that pleases their palate.
South Africa is home to a wonderful mix of beaches, mountains, wildlife and over 1,700 miles of pristine coastline. It also plays host to a number of fun and interesting attractions to visit, not the least of which are:
Table Mountain—a flat-topped mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town—is a major tourist attraction in South Africa, with thousands of people flocking here each year just itching to get to the top. To accomplish this feat, there are basically two options: You can take one of the cable cars that operate daily, taking guests from the base of Table Mountain to its highest point, or if you are the more adventurous type, you can take the time out of your day to hike to the mountain’s peak. According to those who have made the ascent, the climb is definitely worth it, and once you reach the summit the views are simply spectacular. Table Mountain is also home to plenty of local fauna, including the rock hyrax, a small mammal that looks like a cross between a mouse and a squirrel, as well as porcupines, mongooses, snakes, tortoises and some playful monkeys who are always on the hunt for food.
Located seven kilometers off the coast of South Africa, Robben Island is home to the notorious prison in which Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years, from 1964-1982. The tour of Robben Island gives visitors a chilling first-hand look at the conditions Mandela, who passed away in 2013, was subjected to and the manner in which all prisoners were forced to live. The tour will actually take you to the 7ft by 7ft cell that Mandela called home for almost two decades, complete with a replica chair, mat, bowl and blanket. Outside the cell you will see a list of the food once served in the prison and also the separate menus for black South Africans, mixed race/Asians and white South Africans. Ferries leave for Robben Island from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town six times a day, but because of the recent demand, it is recommended you call ahead for reservations, approximately one to two weeks in advance.
The Garden Route is a very scenic stretch of highway on the southeastern coast of South Africa, starting at Mossel Bay and finishing at Storms River. Along the way, there are a variety of interesting stops you can take, where you can visit small coastal towns such as Knysna and Oudtshoorn. The Garden route has ten different naturally-protected reserves, which play host to an abundance of sea life such as dolphins, seals and the endangered Southern Right Whale. In addition to the marine life there are almost 300 species of beautiful multi-colored birds to behold along the way.