I am excited to share the 7th episode of this series – Sojourn of a Nigerian Architect in Canada. I have been schooling these past few months and have learnt a lot more about architecture in Canada.
My school program, Architectural Technologies at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, SAIT is a 2-year program that teaches about architectural design, drafting, cost estimating and site supervision. I have completed the first year and will be sharing in this post the structure of the program and its suitability for foreign-trained architects.
The architectural technologies program has 4 specialized courses repeating themselves every semester but with progressing difficulty.
These courses are:
- Research and design
- Documentation and regulation
- Science and systems
Research and design
This course is about architectural design and design processes. Topics like site analysis, case studies, design development, aesthetics of building form, functional layouts etc are taught.
The knowledge here is very similar to what most foreign-trained architects already know. So it’s smooth riding!
This course is about the use of design and drafting software, standard drafting methods and what constitutes a complete architectural drawing set. CAD and BIM are the principal tools taught here. They also teach Bluebeam Revu (PDF markup) and Autodesk FormIt (quick 3D modelling) in the first semester and Lumion (rendering) in later semesters.
AutoCAD is taught and used in the first semester while Revit is taught and used every other semester until graduation.
A lot of Foreign-trained architects already have a good foundation in the use of CAD, BIM and rendering software so the course will refresh your memory and teach you new skills and tricks.
Here is where the learning starts!
Documentation and Regulation
This course is about studying the Canadian regulatory requirements for buildings and implementing/documenting them in our designs. The principal documents used here are:
The Building Code is a voluminous document that is technical to read and differs from province to province while the Land Use Bylaw is less voluminous and easy to read but differs from city to city. The focus of The Building Code is the safety of buildings while the focus of the Land Use Bylaw is planning regulations. Since it is mandatory for all buildings in Canada to meet the requirements in these documents, you are taught to navigate, understand and implement these regulations in design.
Foreign-trained architects especially those from tropical regions and countries without an enforced Building Code would need to spend more time and effort here. Though no one is expected to memorize these documents, a working knowledge of them is required.
Science and Systems
This course is about construction methods, materials and details. Here, the uniqueness of the Canadian climate and how it impacts local construction and materials is emphasized. You start off learning about wood frame construction and move on to more complex construction methods.
One very interesting aspect of construction in Canada is that because of the varying climatic condition within the country, construction methods can vary within dissimilar climatic zones or provinces. For example, a wall assembly system designed for Calgary won’t work optimally in Vancouver.
Even though foreign-trained architects are very conversant with construction methods, there are a lot of new ideas to learn in this course. So, those of us who only have masonry/concrete construction experience will need to put in more time and effort.
My take on the SAIT Architectural technologies program
One thing I find fascinating about the way the program is been delivered is that at every interim presentation/jury (3 held per semester), you are required to discuss and show in your presentation how you have implemented the knowledge gathered from each of the courses discussed above. Each instructor will be present at your presentation listening to hear how his/her course has influenced your project. Those interim presentations are graded and form the entire continuous assessments for each course. The final submission of your drawings and binder is the examination.
At the end of the day, your project isn’t only about design but the exceptional use of technology, a sound understanding of construction materials and methods, and the implementation of all regulatory requirements.
In the long term, I believe this knowledge is beneficial to foreign-trained architects and will help us quickly gain Canadian education, some experience and ultimately confidence in our architectural abilities.
Whether foreign-trained architects can also acquire this knowledge by working as intern architects in Canadian architectural firms is yet to be ascertained.
If you would like to see my drawings and know more about my SAIT projects – click on My SAIT Portfolio below. Regarding my internship, I am holding off on it until I am done with this programme
Below is an animation of my second-semester project.
To learn more about this second-semester project click here
Remember to share and leave a comment if you require more information. I wish you the best in your architectural journey.