University of Cape Town Architecture


University of Cape Town Architecture


Information for prospective applicants

School of Architecture, Planning & Geomatics

University of Cape Town

Private Bag X3, Rondebsoch, 7701

Centlivres Building, University Avenue, Upper Campus

Tel: +27 (0)21 650 3705 | Fax: +27 (0)21 650 2383 |

What does an Architect do?

she/he designs buildings

she/he designs spaces inside and outside of buildings

she/he makes pieces of cities

she/he does interior design

she/he does graphic design

she/he designs furniture/crockery/cutlery etc.

she/he manages projects

she/he is duty-bound to work in the interests of the client AND society at large

she/he is able to envision a more positive future

she/he is able to solve problems creatively

she/he is able to bring together a range of disparate factors to provide a singular solution.

Being an Architect…

…requires being able to think creatively

…requires being able to think rationally

…requires a social conscience

…draws on intuitive thinking

…requires long hours of work

…requires tenacity, passion, dedication, conviction and strength


Bachelor of Architectural Studies (3 year undergraduate programme)




BAS Honours (Bachelor of Architectural Studies Honours)

BAS Honours

BSc Honours

BSc Honours (Bachelor of Science in Construction Management)

BSc Honours (Bachelor of Science in Construction Studies)

M Arch Prof (Master of Architecture Professional) M Arch (Master of Architecture by research) MPhil (Master of Philosophy in Architecture) MCPUD (Master of City Planning & Urban Design) MLA (Master of Landscape Architecture

MCRP (Master of City and Regional Planning)

MSc Property Economics

MSc Property Management

M Phil Housing

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree structure

Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS): 3 year undergraduate degree

A professional degree leading to registration with the South African Council for the

Architectural Profession as a ‘Senior Architectural Technologist’

A foundation degree leading to Masters degrees in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Planning (applications to these is by portfolio and good undergrad academic results)

Design and Theory Studio is the basis of the course along with Technology which is the second core course. Other support subjects such as History and Theory of Architecture, Representation, Structures, Environment & Services, Management Practice and Law

an intensive course requiring lots of dedication, time and input

a popular course

we recommend you apply to lots of universities and universities of technology

BAS: teaching and learning

• Most teaching occurs through discussion and one on one teaching;

• Students are required to produce drawings and models throughout the course;

• Students learn how to present their ideas and proposals verbally AND visually;

Design projects include:


Urban Design

Landscape designs / interventions

Conceptual projects



Photo: Typical teaching and learning scenario: Two highly trained Lecturers are discussing a students work with her.

BAS: teaching and learning

Above: Typical teaching and learning scenario: Pin-up presentations, with immediate and individual feedback and discussions are an everyday part of the student experience.

Above right: Typical teaching and learning scenario: Field trips to small towns around the Western Cape, and Architectural tours of the country and continent are also part of the Architectural student’s experience.

Right: Typical teaching and learning scenario: Many of the projects set for students are on real sites around the city. Organized site visits are part of this process.

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BAS: teaching and learning

Students make regular use of the Workshop.

Group projects are one of the ways student learn to put ideas together. The crafting of Architecture, and the making of things is part of this process too.

Students building conceptual installations in their studio.

Teaching with discussion is an integral part of the process in the Design Studio, where each students has a board and a desk and locker of their own.


SUCCESSFUL APPLICANTS will have been selected on THREE things:

1.The submitted portfolio which includes drawing work, creative exercises and a written motivation.

2.NSC scores

3.NBT scores

A BAS application grade of 100% is made up of

NSC + NBT = 50%

Portfolio = 50%

Applicants are ranked, the highest ranking applicants are successful.

Special consideration is made for a number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds who show talent, but have not had the privileges of other students due to the legacy of Apartheid.

The BAS application score is thus:

1.All percentages obtained for 6 NSC subjects (excluding Life Orientation) are added and then divided by 12, to get a sub-total out of 50. (The 6 highest scores are counted if there are more than 6).

2.All three percentages obtained on the NBT are added together getting a total out of 300, and then divided by 6 to get a sub-total out of 50

3.The NSC and NBT points are added together, then divided by 2 to get a subtotal out of 50.

4.The PORTFOLIO is marked out of 50.

5.The portfolio score (max. 50) is added to the academic scores (max. 50) and a BAS application score is obtained and recorded as a percentage out of 100.

The Portfolio

As the portfolio counts for 50% of the application grade it is VERY important. Applicants who apply without submitting a portfolio are not considered. All portfolio requirements are listed on Form 8 of the Application forms. Six tasks must be completed as part of the applicant’s portfolio.

Many successful applicants have in the past never done art formally.


There are 2 drawing exercises and 4 design exercises, and one motivational letter that must be included in the Portfolio.


1.Choose a manufactured object: e.g. an object of any size and in any condition (new or in a state of decay). Draw the object as you see it. DO NOT DRAW THE OBJECT FROM A PHOTOGRAPH. Make an effort to show the special quality of the object, e.g. its roughness or its smooth softness, manufactured property, etc. You can use any technique to draw it. Use A4 paper (210 x 297mm – the size of this sheet).

2.Draw a portrait of an elderly person in his or her favourite place – this should be a real person that you know, and a real place. Use any drawing technique and A4 size paper. Again, draw by direct observation – NOT FROM A PHOTOGRAPH. The portrait may extend to the whole body of the person you are drawing (not just the face). DO NOT NEGLECT THE CONTEXT – you are being asked to draw a person, and a place.

Examples of the “Portraits of an Elderly person in their favourite place” drawn by successful applicants to the BAS Programme (showing preliminary work as well).


3.Make a design for a pattern, which could be used – for example – in the printing of fabric. The pattern should be based on the repetition or manipulation of the manufactured object you selected for drawing exercise A1. Use A4 paper and any technique.

Examples of patterns generated from the drawings of the manufactured objects drawn by the applicant who drew the corkscrew as her object, and the applicant who drew the teapot (shown earlier).


4.Design and draw a lamp holder that inspires you. Pay careful attention to the material that your design would be made of as well as how it would be made. Use A4 paper and any technique. In addition to the aforementioned drawing, you may include photograph(s) of any working and or final models of your design. Please DO NOT send any original models.

Example of a Lamp. This applicant drew inspiration for his lamp from an LP record and experimented with different ways of putting discs together.

5.Design a poster advertising a significant event, exhibition or conference that reflects what you consider socially relevant. Carefully judge the information that needs to be communicated as well as the desired visual impact that you want to achieve. The poster must be on A3 paper (twice the size of this sheet – 420 x 297mm) and may be folded in half when sent in the post. Use any technique.

Example of poster drawn by a successful applicant to the programme, showing preliminary work and the final poster.

6.Using drawings only (i.e. no words) and any graphic technique you like, draw for a friend how to go on a journey from your house to your favourite local place. Use one sheet of A4 paper for this.


We are not asking for a map, or for directions. This exercise is about 2 things: showing us how keenly observant you are of the world around you; how imaginative you are about representing that environment. It is about representing an understanding of space. Please avoid using symbols (eg. MacDonalds or KFC), please avoid arrows, and please try to show more than just roads. The cities and towns we live in are made up of many interesting things: buildings, trees, mountains, the sea, people, markets, shops, houses, etc.

Examples of journeys illustrated by two successful applicants.

ALWAYS Include some of your preliminary work with each exercise.

Here is an example of preliminary work for the manufactured object.

7. Motivation:

Include a one page written motivation in you portfolio giving your reasons for wanting to study in this programme.


o A written motivation

o Two drawing exercises o Four design exercises

o Supplementary work (optional)

o Preliminary work (well presented and organized)

o Your latest school or tertiary institution grades


You may also submit copies or photographs of any other creative work such as drawings, sketches, paintings, or made objects (e.g. ceramics, clothing, carpentry, jewellery, wirework, beadwork, etc.).

Please do not submit copies of more than six such items. Do not submit any physical objects or bulky framed artwork.


The size of portfolio should NOT exceed A3 (420 x 297mm).

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The drawings should NOT be rolled up nor put into cylindrical containers.

As all official documents, e.g. academic results and transcripts, are filed, please ensure that they can be removed from your work.

Each loose section of your work must be clearly marked with your name.

While the selection committee takes every care not to remove or damage any items, the University

cannot be held responsible in any way for loss or damage to a whole or part of your work.


The preferred portfolio submission date is 31 August 2014. Final deadline for all applications and portfolios: 30 September 2014

Please post or deliver your portfolio to:

BAS Application Portfolio

The School of Architecture Planning & Geomatics University Avenue, Upper Campus

Private bag x3 Rondebosch Cape Town South Africa


Selection process

A committee of 3 Lecturers

portfolios are graded out of 50 and added to NSC and NBT results

early offers are made based on preliminary matric results provided that matric scores are at the same level or higher

early offers are normally made in November

those without early offers unfortunately have to wait until the first week of January when NSC results are released

some 5 to 10 applicants might be placed on waiting list that could only be resolved in the first week of the academic year (last week of February)

where there is equivalency, the committee will attempt to make selections based on establishing a diverse class which is essential to a rich studio learning experience for all

What the selection panel looks for:

• Motivation:

This can be seen in the way in which you present your work as a whole, the degree of effort shown in the projects requested by the School – as well as in your written motivation.

• Design ability:

Each piece of work is examined for its designed quality. Note that people with little experience in art or design are admitted where their work provides evidence of good observation, three dimensional awareness and careful consideration of the presentation of the portfolio, with good, hand-drawn lettering, careful paper selection, and careful organisation of the pages.

Creative ability:

This is an important factor. However, note that expertise in technical drawing or “painterly” ability alone is not highly considered. A sense of design or composition, an ability to observe accurately, an imaginative approach to subject matter, the stamina not to leave loose ends – these are all looked for in the work.

• Academic ability:

Strong portfolios often show work that is motivated by strong and original ideas. This is more relevant to some of the portfolio tasks than others.

• Initiative:

What often separates some applicants from others is an indication of people exploring or recording something for themselves, working because they are interested – not because they have to. This means that sketch explorations are as useful as finished works. Although supplementary work from school art or Technikon courses is often received, evidence of this independent initiative does not necessarily lie there.


Applicants can apply online at



For further queries please call reception at The School of Architecture, 021 650 3705