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Architecture: ‘as pragmatic or as esoteric as you like’

We chatted with the Head of MSA, Professor Tom Jefferies, for our second UNI interview. We asked him how he got into architecture, how he then found himself in the thicket of architectural education, what makes a good school, and where he would like to see MSA going in the not too distant future.

 Education in the UK

“When architectural education is working well it sets up the landscape for you to ask very challanging questions and to come to some sort of resolution.” According to Tom, you can describe architecture as either a profession or a discipline, and if you describe it as a discipline it’s amazingly wide – “you can be as pragmatic or esoteric as you like.” He said that “the UK system allows for someone to enter the discipline, define where they sit, and then work out how they want to engage with the profession when they emerge out of it”.

Talking MSA

So where does he see MSA going? “The interesting thing about MSA is that it’s an ongoing project.” Tom, along with Eamonn Canniffe, was there at the very beginning when the joint school was formed in 1995. “Like anything new, it took a bit of time to bed in. The next phase is to get a fully joint school from BA to PhD, and then see how the school could engage with it’s professional and academic context in the most dynamic way possible.” Tom said that “the trajectory is to set the school up to become stronger and stronger by realising its interconnections within the two universities it is a part of, but also in the wider professional world.”


We’re two students aiming to bridge the gap between student and architect through film and interviews. Where are Mancunian architects taking the profession right now, and what kinds of challenges are they facing? What are the innovative solutions being explored in response to this? We want to document unique architectural ideas and the faces behind them. 


Tags: Architecture, interview, Mies, MSA, Tom Jefferies

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