Programme: Architecture - MArch

Year: 2014

In this article, we focus on Rickie Cheung who graduated in 2014 with distinction from our Master of Architecture (MArch) programme.  This is Rickie’s account of his first year since leaving Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)…

For the last two years of my degree, I worked with fellow MArch graduate, David Clark, on an integrated pathway design project. Our final thesis project, The Creviced City, investigated and explored ways of revitalising Lisbon’s deteriorating downtown area.

In addition to Building Design’s ‘Class of 2015’ and the 3D Reid Student Prize, the project was nominated for an RIBA President's Medals Student Award, and subsequently featured in the awards exhibition at RIBA’s headquarters in London. This was a great chance for us to showcase our work to a wider public audience while learning from other award entries nominated by architecture schools around the world.  

John Kinross Scholarship trip to Italy

Along with two other ECA alumni, 2014 Painting graduates Rachel McBrinn and Violetta Muñoz, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of ten recipients of the 2014 Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) John Kinross Scholarship.

This provided a unique opportunity for me to produce work of my own interest while based in Florence (Italy) over a period of six - twelve weeks. To have the freedom to create new work with an emphasis on architecture through writing my own brief truly tested everything I had learnt at Edinburgh over the years.

Whilst in Florence, I travelled frequently and often documented my journeys to places such as Rome, Milan and Venice either through films or hand sketches. One of the highlights was when I stumbled across a small group of journalists and academics who were being given an intimate guided tour through the Architecture Biennale exhibition by the curator Rem Koolhaas himself!

The work myself and other recipients produced is currently on show in a group exhibition, Dimmi (Tell Me), at the Patriothall Gallery as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  

"I feel ECA definitely provided a solid platform for me to adapt to the transition from university into a professional practice environment. The design environment nurtured us to address current global issues innovatively through our projects [and] the method of working and the wide range of technical knowledge I acquired have helped me establish fundamental skills adaptable to many other design disciplines". 

Rickie Cheung, MArch graduate 2014

… and on to professional practice

When I returned from Italy, I did some small-scale renovations on a freelance basis while searching for other opportunities. My search soon led me to London, where I secured a job at Grimshaw Architects, founded by ECA alumnus, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw.

Grimshaw has completed many projects globally and the studio is particularly notable for its work in the infrastructure sector. Similar to the crit culture at ECA, the practice holds weekly design reviews for each project to provide a chance for every team member to contribute and voice their opinions during the design process.

Grimshaw employees are also often invited to contribute material to competitions and public exhibitions around the world. I recently won a drawing competition held within the studio which saw my winning drawing representing Gimshaw’s presence at the annual drawing exhibition in New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture.

I feel ECA definitely provided a solid platform for me to adapt to the transition from university into a professional practice environment. Firstly, the rigorous and stimulating approach towards design thinking encouraged us to really engage with each other within the architecture design studio.

The design environment also nurtured us, as students, to address current global issues innovatively through our projects. From the production of finely crafted objects by hand, to CNC’d laser cut models, the method of working and the wide range of technical knowledge I acquired over the years have helped me establish fundamental skills adaptable to many other design disciplines.

The opportunities are endless and I am very excited about the future!


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