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Now a master’s student in the School of Architecture, Adam Dobson also completed his undergraduate degree at Reading, being awarded the Chancellor’s Award in two consecutive years. Throughout his postgraduate studies, Adam has had the freedom to explore his passion and research interest for stadium architecture, specifically the social potential of stadia. 

Adam Dobson portrait

A Master of Architecture set in the context of the real world

On graduating from his Part 1 studies in 2019, Adam was offered his dream job at AndArchitects, a sports specialist firm with a diverse portfolio. They supported his decision to study for his Part 2 Master of Architecture and accommodated his wish to work in practice alongside his studies. Reading was Adam’s natural choice.

His decision to return to Reading was influenced not only by the strong relationships built between staff and peers, but also by the connections and approach that the School of Architecture has with industry, which he praises as part of the School’s supportive and professional atmosphere.

Another aspect of his master’s that Adam appreciated was his experience working as an undergraduate support assistant, which formed part of his Professional Skills module.

“It was invaluable in building relationships and connections across all year groups within the School of Architecture. It was a really rewarding experience and gaining a different type of professional experience.”

Professional placement marks the beginning of a career

Adam is deeply satisfied by his work in practice with AndArchitects, a fascinating company to be involved with – particularly for him.

“It’s been extremely rewarding working with AndArchitects. I’ve been able to build relationships and develop my skills in a field that represents my ambitions. One of the sectors they work in is sports and leisure, which was really beneficial for both my dissertation and research project on stadium architecture. I am really grateful to have the support from everyone at work and to have the experience of working closely with the Director. He has always taken the time to involve me in the processes, testing and progressing my abilities and teaching me all things stadia.”

Adam points to the impact of his work in practice on his dissertation, which is part of the Design Research Unit agenda.

“I’m very grateful to the University for opportunities in this area. All professions revolve around making connections, getting hands-on experience and then being able to write about it in an academic, reflective way. This degree is fantastic for giving insight and deeper knowledge of the field.

“Two key modules within the master’s are Research Methods 2: Dissertation and Architectural Design 3: Design Thesis Project. Being able to choose a topic I was interested in, then to feed practice-based experience gained from live projects into my dissertation research to inform my design studio project, has been a format that has worked very well. I can now take these findings back into practice to further build on this research-based approach to design.”

The social value of stadia 

Architectural plans

Adam says that he has always been a little obsessed with stadia and that, when his father used to take him to football games as a boy, he found himself studying the stadium more than the game. It is well documented that many of these venues are terribly underused, with poor quality internal spaces. This inspired him to develop a social value toolkit to design and evaluate stadium performance.

“My tutor, Professor Flora Samuel was involved with creating the social value toolkit (SVT) for architecture. The SVT was developed to make it simple to evaluate and demonstrate the social impact of design on people and communities.

“There are perceptions about stadia, because I think quite often they still have that stigma of football fan culture, which can be off-putting. Whereas they have the potential to perform as a community facility, which should bring them to the wider audience and fulfil all that untapped potential.

“My research area, my studio project and the work I'm doing in practice are almost identical, and so that worked out very well!”

Outstanding opportunities

Adam insists on the high quality of both academic and professional offering at Reading.

“I can’t praise the support and enthusiasm from the tutors enough. Their various research and specialisms are inspiring, enlightening and inform the process by which we learn. Professor Lorraine Farrelly, the Head of the School of Architecture, has always been approachable, whether academic or personal, and knows the pupils by name. It’s small details like this that make you feel a valued and integrated member of the School.”

Learn more about our Master of Architecture course and discover your design passion

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