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Industry Insight: Careers in Architecture

I’ll go from working in the office one day
to being on site meetings or client meetings, even going to CPD lectures, and so I might
not even get to the office some days. For instance today I met a client who was
interested in discussing various aspects about his scheme. We tend to get a lot of people
into the office and it’s fascinating just to meet the wide variety of people who work
in the construction industry. Well actually my parents both did a lot of
renovation when I was growing up, so I kind of grew up on building sites. When I was in
my teenage years my mum was renovating a farmhouse and being more involved in that made me realise
I was really interested. My first passion really is design, that was
my stepping stone into architecture. I undertook Art, Design Technology, Graphics at A Level,
and I think that really primed me for my architectural career. My careers tutor and my head of year tried
to dissuade me from studying architecture. They didn’t feel it would be a right fit for
me. On retrospect I think that there wasn’t a lot of people studying architecture at the
time and there just wasn’t enough known about the industry. But once I got to university
all of the tutors were really supportive, so I was really glad I stuck to my guns. Trident work experience proved to be a fantastic
avenue to undertake my career. The practice is still running today and it was fascinating
at the time just to see the realities of architecture in practice. Pretty much, once I decided I wanted to do
this, I was pretty determined and went for it all the way through, even when I was dissuaded
slightly. I think I was in year 10 at Le Rocquier and
after taking Trident I didn’t change my mind and I was dedicated to that path. I did my degree and post-graduate diploma
as well as my Masters at Portsmouth University. I am currently undertaking a Part 3. Architecture
is fairly unique in the way that it’s built up. I took what’s called the ‘traditional
route’ into architecture which is broken into three sections. Part 1 is typically three
years with some years out in between. Part 2 is two years, and I am currently, as I said,
taking Part 3. In-between those breaks you come to the office and you work full time
and build up practical experience. I chose Maths, Physics, Design Technology,
and English, but actually I wish I hadn’t. It was my biggest regret because being in
the university and seeing what the acceptable courses were, you don’t have to study those
core subjects. Those are the kind of ‘atypical ones’. For GCSE I undertook Design Technology as
a key focus, Art. I also undertook History as one of my elective, which was useful in
various random ways, but that was good nonetheless. For A Levels it was more direct, it was Art,
Design Technology, I took Biology and Chemistry because I think you need a strong theoretical
backbone and kind of rigour that assists any person wanting to be an architect. Well design flair is obviously a given, you
can be designing all day. But then you need teamwork because you’re working with your
colleagues or with contractors, engineers, and builders, so it’s really important to
be able to work together and give an end product that’s really great. Design talent, social awareness, and an attitude
for business. Probably the flexibility and the fact that
every day is different. I couldn’t do a 9 to 5 desk job. Although that is quite a big
portion of what you do. That, and seeing a building finished, having that idea in your
head, the design that you work on with the client and is just a drawing, something that
you’ve brought out of nothing, then one day it’s reality and it’s an actual space. That’s
really exciting, that’s a little bit of magic. I think it’s highly rewarding and it’s nice
that architecture has one foot in an office, so you have that conventional lifestyle there,
and also you’re, in a strange sense, a kind of artist because you’re working on commissions
effectively. I was really surprised there’s not more women
in the industry actually. I think because of the flexibility and the design flair of
it, and in quite practical thinking, I’d have thought it would be perfect for women and
I’m really surprised there aren’t more of us in the profession. I’d say the sheer volumes of paperwork, it’s
very admin heavy, it often can bog you down and the amount of time you spend designing
isn’t what you first think it might be. But nonetheless you realise quickly that it’s
all very important and it facilitates architecture and it wouldn’t work without it. I think there is a big preconception that
it’s a boys club, and that was definitely something I thought it would be like, but
I’ve never experienced it myself. We are such a collaborative group of people, you have
to work together so I’ve never found anything but respect and enthusiasm on the site. It’s a highly technical job and so if you
come in just believing it’s going to be all art based, it isn’t the case. You really have
to read up constantly and understand new technologies coming out. Probably this project, this was my first project
when I set up my business and it’s coming to completion now. It’s the biggest project
that we’ve done as a practice, so seeing it finished and to such a high standard is really
exciting and something I’m very proud of. In general it’s working for some private clients
which, to be non-specific, is fantastic and they really appreciate everything you do for
them. And when you commit a good scheme to paper and you actually see it built on site,
it’s satisfying, massively satisfying. You might have to do all nighters to get a
project done because you’re working to a deadline, but at the same time the following day you
might get the day off. So the flexibility does make it a lot easier but sometimes you
do have to work quite late hours in order to get work done to a deadline. The average qualification timespan from commencing
at university to end is 10 years, or just under- 9 and a half I believe. That definitely
follows suit with me, I’m about 9 and a half at the moment and I haven’t qualified, but
I would say you can break it up into parts and that makes it more manageable. Setting up my practice was probably the biggest
challenge. Being quite a young person, I’m the youngest practice owner here in Jersey. As I already mentioned, I’m undertaking Part
3 and doing that whilst working full time in an office is very tricky because you’ve
got obviously your work load here and then you go home and you work at home. I’ve actually think I’ve been given two pieces
of advice, one was from my dad who said that if you found something that you love, do it-
because he’s in his sixties and he still doesn’t know what he wants to do when he grows up.
And also from my mum who said if you’re stressed out and you’re feeling under pressure, get
up early because those hours before the phone starts ringing are the most productive- you
have all day. I would say it’s just to follow your passion
really and just simply to do what you’re interested in. The ability to, in the summer, maybe work
from 7.30 until 4. As long as I get the work done I can finish early and have the afternoon
off. I would say a deep appreciation for the team
effort that occurs behind the scenes in architecture. Craftsmen, tradesmen in general who work very
hard and it really sheds light on the work, the work they do day to day. I’ve done quite a lot of travel. I’ve worked
in Australia and I’ve done travel with my university, gone to Italy and France, and
some people even went to New York. I would say it’s interesting here at BDK where
we bring in quite a few Trident students and they undertake a similar project that I undertook
when I was a Trident student. It’s just nice to see their passion and energy and it really
helps everyone in the office to feed off that. I think it’s that moment when you’re coming
near the end of completion on a project and you just get that sneaky peek at your clients
faces and you know that they’re really happy with what you’ve done. It’s that bit of joy
that you’ve given them and that this is going to be there home- that’s really magic.

5 Replies to “Industry Insight: Careers in Architecture”

  • Thank you for the great video! You should check out my new series called WHAT ARCHITECTURE SCHOOL DOES NOT TEACH YOU. As a recent Architecture graduate, I've gathered so many lessons and stories of my past that I wish to pass on to others to encourage them to seek their truth! It's all about Architecture, mindfulness, Psychology, Self-Discovery, the future of our profession….our profession is undergoing a massive shift and I like to call it 'The Conscious Architecture Movement'. It would be really great @SkillsJersey if we could stay in touch, perhaps collaborate in the future and support each other! I believe our Architecture profession the way it works today needs an upgrade which means raising awareness within and around us as much as possible! What do you think? Oh btw: I'd really appreciate a FOLLOW from you. 🙂 Stay in touch!

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