Masters students gain work experience while they study

We are pleased to announce that, following the success of its launch this year, the Postgraduate Advantage Scheme (PSS) will run again in 2015/2016. The scheme provides students with a financial bursary to undertake an internship which is flexible around their studies.

This exciting scheme is designed to provide valuable opportunities for students to work in organisations such as charities and public services, allowing them to put theoretical knowledge in to practice. We think that being able to learn directly from industry professionals is the perfect way to achieve this. We are also passionate that the internships through this scheme are of a high standard and suitable for postgraduate students.

The scheme is exclusive to Postgraduate Taught Students in the Social Sciences Faculty and it’s a prime example of how The University of Sheffield is committed to developing the employability of our students.

In the School of Architecture the scheme has been a great success with a number of postgraduate students securing valuable placements. Here our students and employers share their experiences.

Mark Parsons, Studio Polpo

“The three students worked with us primarily in assisting two local organisations to explore feasibility options on ongoing projects. Working together as a small team they were able to quickly research, explore and visualise ideas and develop these in dialogue with the clients. Portland Works, one of the organisations the students worked with, has been able to move forward with fundraising for new works as a result of this. The work with the other organisation, Gripple, has led to interesting prototypes that will allow us to work with the company and students from both Sheffield and Hallam Universities in the next academic year.”

Nick Bax, Creative Director, Human

“Our student intern became fully integrated into the team and was able to contribute to a major project within the studio, creating 3D modelling on a live brief. The length of the internship meant that she was able to gain a real sense of our working practice and how projects take shape over a few weeks. She also joined us for social outings and celebrations and really enjoyed her time with Human!”

Azra Drishti, MSc Sustainable Architecture Studies

“I was an intern at Integreat Plus. I was mainly involved in mapping studies, and an allotment project which I designed myself. Despite the fact that the placement was not directly related to what I am studying, the experience and the environment were absolutely great. I practiced even further my software skills in Revit. I would recommend the scheme to other students as, apart from making new connections and learning new skills, you get do to something else apart from your studies.”

Wenjie Zhong, MA in Architectural Design

“I secured an internship at the Acoustic Studio in the University of Sheffield. Throughout the three months` work in the studio I learned a lot and really appreciate the kindness of the colleagues.

I participated in a project which is about measuring sound levels in London and using the data to analyse the acoustic impact of a shop’s delivery. It was a valuable experience for me. I learned how to run a project in an unfamiliar place under the permission of local government. I also learned how to operate the sound-collecting device and use the data-analysis software. And obviously, acoustic effect is an important aspect of architecture and it helped me understand the subject better.

I strongly recommend the scheme to students, because what you learn in the project will be beneficial for your studies, and you will understand its significance months or years after you finish the programme.”

Further information about the scheme.

In memory of Professor Kenneth Murta…

Very sadly, Professor Kenneth Murta died on Wednesday 13. August 2104.  He will be very fondly remembered by many in the School.

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Emeritus Professor Bryan Lawson has written the following obituary…

The School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield was formed initially to serve the needs of the local profession and community. Under the guidance of its second professor, John Needham it became firmly recognised as one of the UK’s significant schools. During the time of Ken Murta, only the fifth person to hold the title of professor, it steadily grew into the international school it is today. But Ken’s contribution to architectural education was on a far wider scale than his achievements at Sheffield.

Ken Murta studied at King’s College, Durham and had initially practised in the northeast and worked for a period in Nigeria. In 1962 he took a post at the Sheffield School, where he was to spend the rest of his career. By 1974 he had risen to be a professor and Dean of the Faculty that had formed in 1965 including departments of Building Science, Town and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture. After the retirement of Professor Sir George Grenfell Baines, Ken became Head of School, a post that he was to hold in rotation with David Gosling until 1991.

But Ken simultaneously played much wider roles in the profession and overseas. Indeed a defining characteristic of his career was an abiding interest in the complex and sometimes problematic relationship between practice and education. Before arriving in Sheffield he had been part of the team that came fourth in the Sydney Opera House competition. He continued to practice throughout his career, often with his long-standing friend and colleague Jim Hall. In the mid sixties Ken began to work with John Needham, designing and building a local church. His interest in ecclesiastical architecture was to last a lifetime and, as well as completing many commissions, he became a leading light in the Ecclesiological Society. He edited the society’s journal for many years strongly supported by his long-standing and dedicated secretary Doreen Spurr.

Ken also played major roles in professional affairs initially leading the Yorkshire region of the RIBA. For many years he chaired the Board of Architectural Education at ARUCK. This body preceded the current ARB in administering the Act of Parliament that protected the title ‘architect’, maintained a register of qualified members and examined and recognised the courses run at Universities. In the early seventies representatives of all the British schools met at Nottingham University and formed a standing committee of the heads (SCHOSA) to debate and promote the interests of the schools. It was not long before Ken became chairman. He even persuaded British Gas to host their meetings and sponsor activities, recognising the growing importance of developing students with an informed approach to creating sustainable architecture.

At Sheffield, Ken drove forward a new route through the degree courses that reduced the students’ time at university from five to four years substituting an extra year in practice. This involved close co-operation between the host practice and the school, a cause that remained close to Ken’s heart. He also enthusiastically supported the Sheffield innovation of a ‘design teaching practice’ originated by his predecessor as head, George Grenfell-Baines.

On the international stage Ken lead the formation of a new course run jointly between northern British schools and universities in Malaysia. For many years both staff and students moved between the two locations. Eventually, as planned, the Malaysians became self-sufficient but Sheffield’s influence in Malaysia persists to this day. Ken assisted many overseas universities in the development of their architectural departments and simultaneously did much to promote RIBA recognition as an international ‘gold standard’. I have been fortunate to work at many universities in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Wherever I went people would remember Ken with affection and respect and insist that I carry their regards back to him. His passing will be felt well beyond our shores. Ken supervised countless students now distributed around the world who frequently express their gratitude for his tuition and guidance and many have been sending their condolences.

It has not been unusual for heads of schools of architecture to struggle with their host universities and sometimes this has lead to a dangerous degree of isolation. This was never the case for Ken Murta at Sheffield. He was well-known throughout the university and through his efforts both the school and the faculty remained highly regarded. I observed Ken over many years successfully steering causes both within the university and beyond. He achieved his objectives not by being a narrow ‘committee man’ but rather through a calm and careful consideration of the personal and social impact of alternative courses of action on all stakeholders. This was not done in a calculating way but through a natural sensitivity to and interest in people’s feelings and motivations. We would often sit in his office long into the evening on eventful days reviewing the situation. There would inevitably be laughter and some refreshment but Ken would get things done. In spite of all his national and international responsibilities Ken was generous with his time and support for me and I know many others who felt the same.

One of the many occasions in Ken’s company that still raises a smile sums him up perfectly. Those who have been external examiners in schools of architecture will know how demanding it can be to get into the minds and designs of a succession of students who are complete strangers. Ken examined extensively and was sensitive to the needs of Sheffield’s external examiners. On one such occasion the day had been controversial, difficult and long. Ken decided the examiners deserved the very best so we drove them out to an illustrious establishment on the Chatsworth estate well known for its excellent chef. The enthusiasm for Nouvelle Cuisine was in full swing and, although the meal was creatively prepared and beautifully presented, Ken sensed an unspoken feeling that our guests were still hungry. He beckoned our waiter and asked if we could share a bowl of chips. A look of distain fluttered across the waiter’s face and some minutes later he returned to whisper politely in Ken’s ear that ‘chef regrets the fryer is not on tonight’. There was a sigh of relief around the table at this ingenious excuse for not delivering humble chips. But Ken insisted that we could wait while it was turned on. Eventually a solemn procession of the chef and two remaining waiters crossed the now empty restaurant bearing a huge silver tureen full of steaming chips. Ken ladled them onto our guests’ plates and they were gratefully devoured.

Life never seemed to be compartmentalised for Ken and our conversation would often range from family matters through sport to world events. Ken had been a fine footballer in his earlier years and he told me more than once how he had kept Brian Clough quiet for ninety minutes. Ken continued to play cricket for many years and his exploits both on and off the field of play generated many amusing anecdotes that get told and retold around the university. He was of course a dedicated family man and often spoke about his children. Whenever I met his wife Joan, who sadly left us before Ken, she was invariably forthcoming in her opinions of things ‘Kenny’ had done or said. On such occasions he would sit with a twinkle and a wink in his eye and chuckle quietly. We can only imagine his passing will be felt acutely by his wider family.

As with all of us Ken had his faults and blind spots. His driving was never immaculate and it often seemed to his passengers that they were on some mystery tour. It was said, only slightly unfairly, that he was the only person in the university able to occupy three spaces when parking his car. But the eccentric angle brought the benefit that you could easily spot his car from the school of architecture on the top floors of the Arts Tower and know he was in.

Few can have contributed as widely and consistently to architectural education. Ken was not ostentatious or dramatic and never pretentious, but worked with a quiet and effective humanity. There will be many whose life he has touched who will remember him with affection and gratitude. Throughout my career I could always turn to him for advice, encouragement and simple companionship. Even though I have not seen him since he moved to be near his daughter in the southeast a few years ago, the world now feels a lonelier place.

Bryan Lawson


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Competition entry for a Cathedral at Kaduna, by Ken Murta and Jim Hall, 1962


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Church hall extension, St John’s Church, Hyde Park, Sheffield, by Ken Murta and Jim Hall c.1971 (photo by Russell Light)

SSoA Exhibition Catalogue

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The SSoA Summer Exhibition Catalogue 2014 is now available.

The 140 page catalogue is fully illustrated in colour and contains a wide range of project work from students throughout the school, including our various degree programmes, MArch, post-graduate taught courses and our graduate school.

The catalogue can be purchased from the general office on floor 13, price £10.

Many thanks to our sponsors – AHMM, Bauman Lyons, BDP, Bond Bryan, Capita, Grimshaw, HCD, Hawkins\Brown, HLM, John McAslan & Partners, MSMR, OMI, Piercy & Company, Proctor & Matthews, RMA and SAPA.

Thanks also to this year’s editorial team – Ranbir Lal, Sean McGee, Andrew McKay, Olivia Radford and Kelly-Marie Rodgers.

SSoA Summer Exhibition 2014

SSoA exhibition 2014

The SSoA Summer Exhibition opens on Friday 20. June 2014.

Our summer exhibition features a large range of drawings, models and videos by students across the different years of the BA and the diverse studios that form our MArch and Masters courses.  The exhibition will also include work from our innovative Live Project programme, which involves our MArch and MAAD students working in teams on real projects with real clients.

The opening event kicks off an exciting week of architecture and design related events in Sheffield that are part of Love Architecture and Sheffield Design Week.

A fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will also be available.

Extra Information

Opening event: Friday 20. June, at 5.30 pm

The exhibition continues until Saturday 6. September.  Opening hours 9.00am  - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Free Entry


Alternate Materials Group, Year 1 Matter-Reality Project, 2014

SSoA ranked 2nd in AJ 100

SSoA has again scored strongly in the Architects Journal’s AJ100, being rated as the UK’s 2nd best architecture school by architectural practices.  This is a further improvement on our ranking last year, when we were joint second (with Westminster).

This is an important mark of distinction that again confirms our reputation as a place where students gain a broad range of useful skills for a practice environment, including technical ability, team working, collaborative working with clients, as well as the ability to innovate and think outside the box.  Strong links with numerous high profile practices in London who are keen to recruit Sheffield students is another asset of the School, setting it above the majority in the UK.


Congratulations also to Penoyre and Prasad who won the AJ100 Sustainable Practice of the Year Award.

Full details are in the AJ 22. May 2014 and on their website (subscribers only).

Undergraduate Open Days – Now booking

Book your place on the next undergraduate Open Day and get a taste for studying Architecture at the University of Sheffield, voted number one in the UK for student experience in the 2014-2015 Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey.

You will have the opportunity to attend a range of activities between 10am and 4pm covering all aspects of university life; including a general welcome to Sheffield and information about the Students’ Union, accommodation and finance. There will be opportunities to look around the campus and accommodation, and ask our experts any questions you might have at our general exhibition. You will be sent a full programme of events closer to your visit so you can plan your day.

The Sheffield School of Architecture has been placed amongst the top three Schools of Architecture in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014. Our undergraduate courses provide a balance of theory, design work and professional experience so, when booking your visit, select to attend the Architecture departmental talks to find out more and meet some of our academic staff.

The 2014 undergraduate Open Days will take place on the following dates:

  • Saturday 6 September
  • Saturday 18 October

The next open day is on Saturday 6 September – book your place here!

SSoA summer school


The Sheffield School of Architecture Summer Programme runs from 15th-20th September alongside the Festival of the Mind.

During an energetic week, we will examine the fabric of the City Centre of Sheffield and propose solutions to vacant, underused and underdeveloped sites within the city.

DESIGN TEAM LEADERS - Martin Mayfield Engineer, Irena Bauman Architect, David Cotterrell Artist

VISITING PRACTICES - AHMM, Carmody Groarke, Hawkins\Brown, Penoyre & Prasad, Riches Hawley Mikhail, 5th Studio

SHEFFIELD ACADEMICS - Simon Chadwick, Leo Care, Russell Light, Julian Marsh, Satwinder Samra, Cith Skelcher

Its just £200 for 6 DAYS tuition.

Each day will be packed with skills sessions, walks, talks, and presentations. You will take part in design projects in collaboration with some of the best architects, engineers, artists and academics in the UK.

To apply contact, or call 0114 222 0310

Further information


Summer School 2014 Flyer1



RIBA Yorkshire Awards 2014

Alumni and staff from SSoA have won 9 of the 16 RIBA Yorkshire Awards 2014 that were announced on 1. May.

4 of the 9 buildings that were selected as outstanding were by SSoA staff and alumni:

- Doncaster Civic Office, Doncaster by Cartwright Pickard Architects (alumnus Ian Wright)

- Manor Works, Alison Business Centre, Sheffield by Architecture 00:/ (alumni Sarah Hollingworth and Alastair Parvin)

- Underbank House, Holmefirth by Prue Chiles Architects (project architect Howard Evans)

- Wakefield One, Wakefield by Cartwright Pickard Architects (alumnus Ian Wright, with Holly Castleton working on the sustainability strategy)

In addition, our alumni and staff took 5 of the 7 special awards:

- RIBA Yorkshire Building of the Year Award 2014 Manor Works by Architecture 00:/ (Sarah Hollingworth and Alastair Parvin)

- RIBA Yorkshire Architect of the Year Award Cartwright Pickard Architects, Leeds (Ian Wright)

- RIBA Yorkshire Emerging Architect of the Year Award Howard Evans of Prue Chiles Architects, Sheffield

- RIBA Yorkshire Sustainability Award 2014 Wakefield One, Wakefield by Cartwright Pickard Architects (Ian Wright, with Holy Castleton working on the sustainability strategy)

RIBA Yorkshire Small Project Award 2014 Underbank House, Holmfirth by Prue Chiles Architects

See more details on the RIBA website.

Congratulations to all of the award winners!


Image – Underbank House by Prue Chiles Architects


Dark, Green and Bronze

black  out arts tower April14

Whilst many live projects and studio ventures have worked in different ways to address themes of energy, sustainability, environment, and resilience, the School of Architecture placed itself on the sustainability map in another way this spring. We have been looking more carefully at ways to reduce the environmental impact of the 9 floors of the Arts Tower where our work and learning takes place.

This April, we achieved a Green Impact Bronze Award, the first award for the department since the Green Impact Scheme was embraced by the University in 2009. Green Impact is an environment and sustainability strategy run by the National Union of Students in over 50 Universities in the UK. It works as an accreditation scheme whereby departments seek to fulfil workbook criteria focussed on a broad range of issues such as communication, waste, travel, procurement and energy.

As a small part of this, we participated in the Arts Tower black-out on the evening of April 4th, striving to switch off as many appliances as possible to transform the usually-brightly lit building to one of darkness. Whilst only a short-term switch off, we were able to present to the city a brief but important message that, even if only for a few hours, we are able to curb our energy use. A less visible, but longer term significant change was achieved through switching unnecessary air conditioning units, in the School’s computer suites, to a permanent ‘off’ mode. This will save least 50,000kWh and around £7000 per year.

Whilst any environmental initiative works best as a long term on-going programme of changes and considerations, the recent engagement in an awards-based scheme has given staff and students in the School a reminder of how small green actions add up to a better overall ethos for teaching, learning, working, living.

SSoA’s new MSc in Digital Design

With great anticipation the Sheffield School of Architecture looks forward to welcoming the first cohort of postgraduate students arriving in September 2014 to undertake the MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments (DDIBE) programme. Granted a full academic approval by the University of Sheffield in July 2013, this brand new MSc will centre on the “Sheffield Approach” that learning and teaching of digital methods, techniques and skills are contextualised and grounded in an understanding of the wider urban, social and cultural agenda. Students will join a digital design studio and develop a series of designs through critical applications of digital methods, tools and datasets in response to the challenges of interactive built environments informed by other course modules.

MSc in DDIBE now has a website up running which contains detailed information about the programme structure and a link to the University’s online application system.

The programme director Dr Chengzhi Peng wrote “We see interactive built environments as innovative syntheses of digital and physical environments that mediate everyday interactions. Increasingly, designers are challenged to respond to workspaces mediating remote synchronous collaboration, smart homes assisting older residents, learning spaces afford learners with differentiated learning, hospitals promoting healing, intelligent laboratories for advancing fabrication research, green buildings and neighbourhoods adaptive to changing climate and low carbon economy, cultural heritage sites navigated through mobile locative apps, for instance.”

The Sheffield School of Architecture is uniquely positioned to deliver this new MSc programme with its existing in-house resources/expertise and cross-disciplinary connections with several cutting edge research centres at the University of Sheffield, and with centres of research and practice in the UK and abroad. The DDIBE staff team aim to achieve that at the end of this programme graduates will have the theoretical knowledge and design skills needed to develop digital blueprints for future innovative built environments based on multiple interactive scenarios that change over time.

For prospective international students, the University of Sheffield currently offers a wide range of Postgraduate Taught Scholarships.

For prospective Home/EU students, you could take your MSc DDIBE at Sheffield for FREE through the Faculty of Social Science Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme.