March 3, 2020

Mark Angel Fabro Tagara

My name is Mark and I’m a final year Architectural Design & Technology student at Cardiff Met. As I look back, I’d like to think that I have made the most of my time here at the Cardiff School of Art and Design (CSAD) – here are some of the highlights of my time here:

1. Projects and Modules

The variety of projects available as part of the course was great – there was something for everyone, whether you prefer residential or commercial projects. In first year, our main project was to design a housing estate and our site location was an area of Cardiff called Gabalfa which is just over the bridge from campus, making it really straightforward to complete a site visit.

In second year, my project was to design an office building, which was ideal for me as I like to focus on commercial projects. Now I’m in my final year, I’m working to design a 7-storey building with offices and flats. This will tie together everything we’ve learnt so far.

The chance for collaborative projects was really useful too, as it gave us the experience of having to work with other disciplines. An example includes the ‘Field’ project I completed in first year which was to renovate a building in Cardiff and turn it into a shop.

The ADT students and Interior Design students worked together to design the building, while Textiles and Product Design students created products to sell. It definitely improved our skills in presentation, teamworking and leadership, which gives me something I can talk about to future employers.

The ‘Constellation’ module allowed us to learn or study subjects other than our course, and the Urban Sketching option allowed me to improve my skills. It also gave me a new hobby which I have been able to continue, and it looks great in my portfolio as it shows my keen interest in architecture.

Through the Urban Sketching module I was able to improve my sketching skills and start a new hobby. This work is a compilation of Landmarks from the trip to Bristol

2. My year in Malta

Like most courses at CSAD, Architectural Design and Technology allowed for me to take a sandwich year. With the help of the university I had the opportunity to complete a placement year in Malta.

This helped me gain experience of the architectural industry and learn things that may not have been covered in my course because of the way the industry is constantly changing. This experience will hopefully set me apart from my course mates who I will be competing with for jobs once we graduate. You can read more about my experience in a previous blog I wrote.

3. Being a part of the Student’s Union

Working at last year’s Fresher’s Fayre for the SU

I had never really considered being part of the Student’s Union rep structure before uni. During Fresher’s Week we were asked if anyone wanted to volunteer, and it wasn’t until people from my course had put me forward that I accepted the role. This provided me with the opportunity to give my course a voice and help improve everyone’s experience. Eventually this led to me receiving the award for CSAD Course Rep of the Year, thanks to the nominations of my course mates.

In my second year I was appointed the School Rep role which allowed me to represent not only my course but the whole school. This was like being thrown in the deep end I never thought I would be doing this but now I’m in my third year of the course and enjoying my second year as School Rep.

I have gained so many skills through the different workshops I’ve attended as part of being a rep – everything from presentation skills to assertiveness, leadership, time keeping and more. The different situations I have been put in as a rep – for example meeting very senior people at the university and public speaking – have also improved my interpersonal skills. It also looks great on my CV!

4. My course mates

Second Year deadline celebrations.
Second Year deadline celebrations. This was my last course night out with these guys before I went on my sandwich year

The social aspect of university is key, and I was fortunate enough to have a good group of course mates for my first and second year. We had a group chat which was used actively, we always worked in collaboration to help each other out.

I think it was extremely useful that people came from different backgrounds so they could bring in different skills. It wasn’t all about work though – we always organised course nights out for after deadlines to let off some steam and celebrate the ordeal we all just endured!

I had worried about what I would do when I came back from my year out as I knew some of my friends would have already left, so I made sure to introduce myself to the year below as I knew I would be graduating with them.

I decided to organise a football match, my year against the year below. This was a great way to meet them, and since coming back I’ve become really good friends with the guys who played in the original game.

5. Learning new things

As important as software and tech is, hand-drawing skills are essential too

Learning new things is obviously a huge part of being at university, but I was surprised at just how much was actually covered. I really enjoyed learning about different types of software like Photoshop, Revit and AutoCAD – important tools that any aspiring Architectural technologist needs to be proficient in.

But it’s not all computer based. Another important skill any technologist needs to have is technical drawing – being able to show how things work and fit together arguably the most important part of our course. Then there was the professional practice module, which improved my professionalism and knowledge of the industry. We were even taught about running our own practice, and mock interviews with architects prepared us for the future.

From the introductory ADT Lecture on my first day, my Cardiff Met experience quickly spiralled into a series of events that led me to become a fully engaged student who has taken full advantage of what university life has to offer. It’s helped me to improve my personal, professional and life skills.

I am definitely going to miss my time here at Cardiff Met and I urge everyone to make the most of it and enjoy it while it lasts.