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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Q&A: Architecture

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Ms Mary Ann Steane

My name is Mary Ann Steane. I’m the Director of Studies in Architecture at Murray Edwards and also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture. My research on natural light considers the factors affecting human perception of the visual environment, in order to examine the pivotal narratives architects construct about light during design development. A decade long dialogue with colleagues at the Valparaiso School of Architecture, Chile has led to a series of papers addressing this topic amongst others, and two exhibitions, one here and one in Switzerland. I have a developing interest in the ecological horizons of architecture. Having taught and co-ordinated the studio programme over many years, I frequently act as a critic at reviews of design work across the Department’s undergraduate and graduate design programmes.

What's special about Architecture at Cambridge? 

Architecture at Cambridge is a department-based subject. Reading Architecture here means you have the benefit of belonging to the Department as well as to the College, and therefore the possibility of making friends in both places. We share our building – and a well-stocked library - with the History of Art Department. Every Architecture undergraduate gets equal access to the Department’s facilities, including desk space in studio and access to our workshop, photographic and printing facilities. Opportunities to engage with your peers abound – both as an inherent aspect of your studies, and in relation to the extra-curricular events organised by the Department and by ArcSoc, the dynamic student-run Architecture society. These include talks, debates, drawing classes, film showings and parties and an end-of-year exhibition of student work. Our Department may be small but it is currently in the process of expansion. Everyone who works there is on first name terms, and most students would say it is easy to establish a firm foothold in it alongside the other members of your cohort.

How does Murray Edwards College support its Architecture students?

As your Director of Studies I look forward to meeting you regularly throughout the course, to review your progress and consider the different options from which you may choose. I like to encourage strong relations between students in different years. Recently, in the summer vacation after second year, Architecture students from the College have  been offered short internships at the architectural practice BDP, and some have gone on to work for BDP after they have finished their BA degree.

What do you enjoy most about working at Murray Edwards College? 

Murray Edwards is an open supportive institution that looks to make all its students feel welcome.  Its dual aims can be summarised as firstly, helping you make the most of the academic opportunities on offer at Cambridge, and secondly, encouraging creative thinking about what you might do afterwards, whether this is further academic study or developing a career in an area that suits your skills and interests.