Betty Owoo looks back on her two years at the LSA
The most important people at any school are its students and at LSA that’s no exception. But what’s it actually like to study here? We spoke to First Years, Second Years and alumni so you can find out first hand. Betty Owoo is a recent graduate from the LSA. Like others at the school, Betty wore many hats: being Student Rep, Young Trustee of the Architecture Foundation and student board member of Citizen magazine.
What attracted you to the school in the first place?
I would say there were three key factors that made LSA my first choice for my Part 2. The first factor was the school’s unashamed focus on London and cities. Its vision of more sustainable and fulfilled lives for city dwellers was (and still is) closely aligned to my own beliefs and interests. The second factor was the school’s innovative education model, which gives students the opportunity to combine working in practice and study, as well as working in close collaboration with practices and fellow students on propositional and relevant research projects. The third factor was having the opportunity to explore what kind of future practitioner I want to be, through the production of a manifesto.
Has it lived up to expectation?
Coming to the LSA has exceeded my expectations. The quality of teaching is outstanding, the faculty always go above and beyond to help and support us. For me, the best part of the school is that it feels like a real community. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows your name, where faculty and students feel free and open with each other, and there is real legibility and transparency in how the school operates. Being part of something that is still in its early stages and is fluid and growing is very special.
What are the most important things you have learnt so far from your time at the LSA?
The three most important things I’ve learned being at the LSA:
1) A week is a very long time. Just the knowledge that we were all able to complete the first year of our masters full-time as well as work three days-a-week was and still is astounding to me. I couldn’t recommend doing it forever, but it has certainly opened my eyes to potential working arrangements in the future.
2) The best way to effect change is to take action. Whenever things at the school aren’t working out for us, we are encouraged to come up with a solution for how things could be done differently — and then we are usually able to enact that solution. So instead of people being unhappy we are able to test ideas and move forward more quickly.
3) Reach out to and nurture your networks. The school is a series of enmeshed and interconnected networks — the students and faculty, the Practice Network, visiting critics etc. We are encouraged to reach out to these networks and to build and foster relationships and networks of our own. The people that I have met through the LSA and during my time at the school are invaluable to me — and whenever I have reached out to them for help or advice they have been more than willing to give it which is fantastic.
What would you say to those starting this year?
The LSA isn’t a typical school and you shouldn’t expect it to be. Embrace it in all its forms. Make the most of the incredible faculty and visiting tutors, critics and lecturers that you will be introduced to. Start thinking about who you want to be as a future practitioner. Pester people in your practice and pick their brains about everything, from building regulations to practice management. Be inquisitive about London and begin to understand and interrogate how mechanisms in the city operate. Be flexible and open to new forms of teaching. Get a travel card or a bike because the city is your campus. Finally, get ready to enjoy yourself and to meet some wonderful people in your cohort!