Architects use creative ideas and technical know-how to design great buildings.
Architects combine creative ideas and technical knowledge to design great buildings.
If you’re good at creating and interpreting ideas and are fascinated by buildings and structures, you might like to think about being an architect. You’ll work very closely with your client (the person you’re designing for) and will therefore need good speaking and listening skills, and be able to keep to a specified budget.
The environment is really important to an architect and you’ll need to be aware of the impact your creation has on the planet. From heating and lighting to the materials you choose to build with, your creations must be sustainable, functional and aesthetically pleasing. Your career can take you all over the world, working on amazing projects with amazing people.
Story of a real Architect
Architecture and Me
The initial careers guidance I received was based on the personality trait tests: “You don’t mind working in an office but you also enjoy being outdoors, you enjoy science subjects but also have some creative interest too… have you considered working as a farmhand?” It was honestly not a career path I had considered, I was lucky enough to know what career I wanted. I wanted to be an architect – what I had to do was work out how to get there.
In the absence of an architectural GCSE option and seemingly quite an open approach to what you needed for entry to university courses across the country, I picked my GCSEs on the basis of what I found most interesting. Two of my GCSEs proved particularly useful in helping me towards my career. One of these was Art, and through discussions with my teacher about what I’d like to investigate through the course we ended up discussing my interest in architecture.
He suggested that I develop my sketching skills and to base my artwork upon urban landscapes and allowed me the freedom that the art course allowed to explore my desire to be an architect at the same time as developing creative skills. The other useful subject was D&T where the head of the subject at the school recognised the importance of links with industry and built up a relationship with British Aerospace (who had a production plant a few miles away from my school in Blackburn) to drive the use of technology and development of skills in the school.
The use of technology was supported by D&T staff keen to encourage the use of design software, especially 3D design tool Pro/DESKTOP and this was immensely helpful in understanding how to imagine and then model 3D objects in a CAD setting. I was lucky to have this backing at this stage of my life and to have the support of a couple of teachers, one who realised the benefit of encouraging and helping to develop individuals’ interests as a viable career option and another who saw the benefits of working with industry to develop skills in young people that could be of use across various careers and also of benefit to the industries we were working with.
On to University
My secondary education provided a great base to build on throughout my A-levels and onto university when I decided to study at the School of the Built Environment at the University of Nottingham where the course seemed to encourage a good mix a technical and creative skills. For a while however, I was uncertain in which direction I could head with a varied range of architecture courses on offer. At the point where I was making a transition to A-Level education the advice offered was along the lines of “there isn’t an A-Level architecture course – a mix of subjects will be the best option”.
Overall though it was the support of two key teachers that really set me off on my journey to becoming an architect. This background allowed me to quickly jump into software such as Sketchup and ArchiCAD at university and the small Blackburn practice where I worked during university vacations was an early adopter of Autodesk Revit. During my time there, I was involved with training colleagues, but the practice also saw the benefit of introducing the many GCSE and A-Level work experience students to Revit as the future of architectural design.
Employment and the big wide world
My skills with software such as ArchiCAD and Revit led me on to a job working in Sydney where I first fully saw the benefits of collaborative BIM working in action, frequently exchanging 3D data with other consultants. Back in the UK this also opened up opportunities to work with exciting practices, including my previous role of developing how BIM was used at 3DReid across all of their offices in the UK and abroad. I’m now working at KPF with a great international team of BIM experts and assist teams working on some incredible buildings.
My interest in all things architectural and technological means that I now get to travel around the UK and regularly work and collaborate with people all around the world. In many ways my secondary school life feels quite a long time ago now, but when I consider what I do today for a living it actually still feels pretty close.