Iga Swiercz

BSc Hons Architectural Studies

What made you want to study Architecture?

I just always knew that this is what I will do. I think the possibility of learning about everything that surrounds us for a better understanding of architecture itself is what excites me about this profession. And the fact that one day our small doodles and ideas will grow to the size of actual buildings.

How does architecture differ in your home country?

I grew up in post-communist Poland so I wasn’t really surrounded by the architectural wonders, in fact everything around me was just a ghost of the not so long ago socialist era. But over the last two decades Polish architecture has risen amongst wartime destruction, shifting national boundaries and a long journey to independence. And I think I can proudly say that even now the country’s future continues to evolve alongside its architecture.

Why did you decide to study in Glasgow and how has that affected your way to look at Architecture?

Before I landed in Glasgow, I knew little about Scotland. But since day one I fell in love with Glasgow. I think I learned every street in the city centre, every extraordinary building or detail. You really start paying attention when you must walk everywhere. But to me Glasgow was never much about architecture itself but more about people that live here.  I love that in Scotland, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it only matters what you do. 

Where did you go on exchange and why did you choose this location?

My exchange destination was Singapore. The choice was obvious because the National University of Singapore has got 9th the best architecture programme in the world, so that determined a lot. Possibilities to study being tutored by visiting professors from Bartlett School of Architecture as well as lectured by Peter Cook or Mario Botta also played a big role in my decision. I believe that as an architect you have to constantly go out from your comfort zones, travel and learn from the world you see around.  Moving to Asia seemed like the perfect way to do so.

How did the course in your exchange university differ from the one in Strathclyde?

I think they sleep significantly less in Singapore.

It is a highly competitive environment. The amount of work, the ideas, the scale of projects and the way they thrive here in this environment trying to outdo one another. It is crazy, believe me.  We always joke here that if you had survived an architecture course in Singapore you can survive everything that comes after. It was the hardest semester of my architectural education so far, but also the most rewarding one and the one I learned the most about myself, my future goals and who I want to be as an architect.  My tutor in Singapore had an extraordinary persona. He was an architect and a world famous curator, and he taught me that school will always put the limits in front of us- some universities less, some more- but we just have to be “naughty and brave” and ready to break them. This approach was something new to me and perhaps something I would never hear from anyone if I hadn’t gone to Singapore.

What do you think of the Architecture in Singapore and how has that changed your perspective on Architecture generally?

Singapore is a place where the backstreets of your house are spectacular museums and galleries. Where people live among tropical tress and then carve them out of metal and make them electric. I learned that this is possibly one of few places where old school and new school come together.  Living in Singapore taught me that architecture can be possibly everything we can imagine... there are no limitations. Singapore is a place for old and for modern to just be next to each other. They have mastered it here and now I can’t imagine the city this scale to look and work in any other possible way.

What would you say is your favourite part or process in the work flow (models, designing, drawing, visuals)?

It is definitely the architectural research, the process where you are still not sure where exactly you are going but you know you are going somewhere, and you are thriving from excitement of what your work could and possibly will become at the end of the process.  

Are you planning to take a year out after 3rd Year? If yes, where would you like to go?

Yes, I am currently in a process of sending out my portfolios and I am hoping for a job in London.  But I am open to any possibilities that may come my way: in fact all the best things that happened to me so far came unexpected.

What would you say is your stand-out experience (social or academic)?

That would be my research programme I had a pleasure to participate in last summer. I worked as a research-fellow representing Scotland at The Architecture Biennale in Venice. I got an opportunity to be a part of an amazing project team; meet extraordinary architects from around the world, as well as at the end I got a chance to have my research and models exhibited across the whole of Scotland, in The Happenstance post- biennale exhibition.