If you’re interested in applying to study Architecture at the University of Cambridge, we’d be happy to help.
Take a look at the resources below for information on applying. Or, browse the ‘About︎︎︎’ page for the role of ARCSOC in life as an architecture student at Cambridge, both in ethos and events. The University’s official application resources can be found here︎︎︎
If you have any questions, please feel to email our access officer︎︎︎
Below are some samples of work from successful applicants’ portfolios. Each portfolio is unique and it’s up to you to decide how to format and display your work!
Please note that several of these portfolios have been re-formatted in order to be shown here digitally. Portfolios DON’T need to be specially edited and most people bring their work in a selection of sketchbooks and loose sheets to interview.
Does it matter what college I apply to?
All Architecture studying is done in the department, so the college doesn’t have much impact on studying. The only things to consider about colleges is distance from the department and their admission rates, which can be seen on each college website.
Should I put architectural drawings in my portfolio?
Your portfolio should display you as a candidate! There are no particular rules for portfolios. Interviewers would like to see skill in hand drawing and spatial understanding, which you can convey as best you see fit.
Do I need to be able to use CAD?
Not at all. In first year you will be learning all the skills necessary.
What should I be reading?
There are lots of books out there and it can be quite daunting to pick out which to read, especially given the steep prices.
Below are some classic architecture books as PDFs, so you don’t have to fork out:
Experiencing Architecture︎︎︎, Steen Eiler Rasmussen, 1959
A brilliant and accessible text to start your architectural education!
Towards an Architecture︎︎︎, Le Corbusier, 1923
This short book was the most influential of the 20th century, and is a core reading for any architect
Also in the original french︎︎︎
The Eyes of the Skin︎︎︎, Juhani Pallasmaa, 1996
A great book for broadening your perspective of what architecture is about, focussing on how architects have under appreciated our senses
Purchase in the original finnish︎︎︎
The Tao of Architecture︎︎︎, 1981, Amos Ih Tiao Chang
A seminal text challenging western-centric approaches to design, showing how Taosim has influenced architecture worldwide
The Battle for Home︎︎︎ (interview), Marwa al-Sabouni, 2016
This text was written during the height of conflict in Syria’s civil war, in which al-Sabouni gives a spatial argument for the factional conflict. Purchase the book here︎︎︎
In Praise of Shadows︎︎︎, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, 1933
An essay exploring Japanese aesthetics and critiquing the western perspective
Species of Space︎︎︎, Georges Perec, 1974
A unique perspective on architecture, very fun to read
Also in the original french︎︎︎
Works of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction︎︎︎, Walter Benjamin 1933
Works of Art is the most important treatise on art written in the 20th century, and essential reading for a life of design !
Culture and Imperialism︎︎︎, Edward Said, 1994
Architectural history has historically been western centric and degrading to other cultures. Edward Said’s late 20th century work sought to redress the balance, by showing how westerners mis-construe and distort their depictions of ‘other’ cultures.
What A-Levels should I take?
Whatever you like. Architects come from a rich variety of backgrounds. Lots of people will say that you need to do Maths, or Art, or DT, but that’s not the case; do what interests you personally.
Before reading this list, we’d like to stress that you definitely don’t need to purchase all of these items straight away. There are various shops around Cambridge and online, and you may find some pieces of equipment more useful than others.
ARCSOC also runs a small shop that sells the essentials such as paper, blades, and lineweight pens at a very low cost. Some Cambridge colleges also financially support architecture students by providing reimbursements or a budget for materials and equipment.
Recommended to Purchase:
To Consider Purchasing:
Provided by the Department (often as loaned items):