Beth - you are a registered Architect!
Can you recall what first sparked your interest in becoming an Architect?
For me it came out of the blue – always at school you’re asked, “What do you want to do at uni?” – I never knew what to say. Neither of my parents went to uni – only cousins. I am the second in my extended family (out of 10) to go. Several others have gone since.
I was very into Art but to me it seemed a tricky career path. I wanted a career path where I could keep growing and Architecture sounded ideal because it combined my creative nature with a career to where I could progress and develop. The more I researched it, the more Architecture intrigued me. I had a lot of encouragement from my parents and grandparents. Looking back, I can see that my Grandad “Popsy” was a major influence. He was a draftsman. He had designed his own house and that had always interested me. I chose Nottingham Trent University for my studies as the course was more design oritentated than technical and I was drawn to their studio culture.
Becoming an Architect is a real commitment…how would you describe the journey?
Hard work! And long… it’s taken me 8 years. I did 3 years as an under grad, then I had my placement at Quattro.
Initially this was for a year, then I spoke to Richard Fellows, my Director about part-time work at Quattro, this lead me to spending 3 years working part-time alongside my Part 2, followed by another year working full time for my Part 3, so by the time I am registered and an official architect, it will be more like 9 years……sounds like a long time but all the different stages go by quite quickly.
That said, it really was hard work. There were points particularly in my 2nd year at university, when I thought “I’m not loving this” – in fact I didn’t like it – but friends and family carried me along. My 3rd year was even harder, but I kept telling myself I was nearly there, and I kept moving forwards. There were a lot of long nights and plenty of tears.
I remember my final interview…so much build up to a 45 min chat. Afterwards I was shaking with adrenaline and so nervous until we found out later that evening. Finding out was a huge relief.
Finishing my studies has been a bit of an anti-climax, going from studying and working together to just working. It does not feel like a big change has happened. That said – you don’t stop learning! The other thing is I have so much time! At uni the workload is so heavy, I hope this will be reviewed by Architecture courses in the future to give a better work life balance for future students. I’m working, cross stitching, baking, keeping a sketching diary and I got married!
Asides the client brief…what is it, that informs and drives your design?
I am a logical person. I like to work things through systematically. Sustainability is obviously important. If budget is tight traditionally it can be one of the first things to be cut back, but now sustainability is becoming part of Planning this is starting to happen less. I’ve recently been working on a Refurb project on Southgate Street, Gloucester, part of the townscape Heritage Initiative Funding where Gloucester City Council is improving the look of Southgate Street. I found it interesting marrying up conservation needs with structural design, the two do not always align straight away.
I’m still finding my feet when it comes to informed design however, I would say the fusion of creative and at the same time logical, systematic thinking lies at the core of my approach.
If I asked you to name two of your favourite Architectural structures/buildings what would they be and why?
I admire many buildings of Richard Rodgers, I like how he takes the structure of a building and showcases it rather than hiding it away.
Another building which is high on my favourites is the Tate Modern, London. I like the modern use of brick and bold statements made in internal structures drastically different yet complimentary to the deep history of the Bankside Power Station.
What support have you had along the way?
I’ve already mentioned how fantastic my family has been. At Quattro, I am so lucky to work alongside Colm and Richard in our Housing Architects team– they’ve been qualified for many years and I learn a lot from them. The Senior Housing team, Kate, Helen and David are all very knowledgeable and a great support. Richard Fellows, our Director of Housing has been very supportive with deadlines and flexibility. Our Junior team have been great for bouncing ideas off and of course we have Quattro’s inhouse Design discussions “Design Party” – lead by Dan Christison, who has been brilliant at arranging a space within the office for wider feedback on my university Projects.
Any tips to our Part 1 and 2’s who are currently on that journey?
Break it down into stages. By project and or task – monthly. Good organisation is key. Compartmentalise so as not to be overwhelmed and allow yourself time off even for the odd half hour here and there.
What aspects of your work do you most enjoy?
Getting a brief from our client, marrying wants and expectations with what is required, designing site layouts and overcoming constraints. Learning is what I enjoy most – I am currently learning more and more about Planning – the different Planning Policies, how they impact and how we can overcome constraints through our designs.
Any particular Quattro Designs that you admire
We had a company visit to Shire Hall to see the internal and external works produced by another team in Quattro. ….I loved the design and am not surprised it has won multiple awards…..
What projects – where you have had design input – are your favourites?
I’ve mentioned Southgate Street and the challenge of meeting conservation requirements whilst being structurally sound.
I prepared and obtained Planning for Newlands Stoke Lacy. It was my first bigger scheme where I had significant design input – there were 28 units.
As an Architect, what are your aspirations for the future?
To keep learning – I am flexible and happy to work across sector. I hold shares in the company and we are growing. This makes me feel good. Quattro has supported me all the way. I can’t thank them enough. I am really happy here. I’m really growing, and I like the Team. I also really enjoy helping newer members of the team. Some days I still feel like I am a junior member, other days I recognise I am growing all the time….. you qualify but you don’t stop learning….I am delighted to be registered as an Architect. I have another (very expensive!) bit of paper for the wall and I’m not putting it under my bed. You’ve got to hang it up! I have not thought too deeply about longer term aspirations past becoming registered, as that has been the big goal for many years now, but I am always on the lookout for that next challenge.