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So, I finally qualified as an architect. 🙂

The hard work seemed to pay off and I was very satisfied with my final grade. End as you mean to go on, as the saying doesn’t go…

In this post I intend to explain what I’ve been up to in my fist few months post qualification and why I haven’t posted anything since… JUNE? Seriously??

Since I qualified, I’ve partly been trying to catch up with friends I’ve inadvertently neglected over the last seven years. While it’s cool to see how much they have (or haven’t) changed, it was hard not to sound as if you’re only dropping them a line to boast about you newly gained qualification.

“Heeey old friend!! I’ve just qualified as an architect and I thought I’d, y’know, see how you’re doing. Wow, it must be at least seven years since we properly caught up. I know this because seven years is exactly how long it takes to become an architect! So yeah, check me out…”

This second thing I noticed was how your main topic of conversation switches from whatever tedious area of contract law you’ve been studying that week to the fact that you don’t have to study anything anymore*.

I’ve now realised that this fact doesn’t have nearly as much significance to anyone beyond myself but it’s just so damned satisfying to say it out loud a few billion times.

The major benefit of not studying anymore was that I suddenly reclaimed half my brain. This was the half that had been keeping all my deadlines, essay ideas other assorted course trivia constantly at the back of my mind. It would occasionally take immense pleasure in bringing this info to the front of said mind – usually at 2am on a weeknight – but would normally just prevent me from fully concentrating on anything.

Now that I had a whole brain, I felt like I could take on the world! Run up mountains! Climb trees! Save kittens while I was up there! The works…

Anyway, the only problem with this is that it’s messed with my perception of how difficult things are. For instance, actually being an architect somehow seems easier than being an assistant. There’s more responsibility but that seems to work in my favour.

Even a few months later I’m finding I’m making the right decisions without having to think them through step by step. For instance, I’ll automatically call up the right person to ask them to speak to someone else, 5 links down the chain. I generally have a much better idea of where I fit in with everyone else and am actually enjoying my job for the first time since I started.

Occasionally I’ll have to plan my actions carefully but at least now I have time to do that. Or make a cup of tea.

So, in summary, I’ve spent the last few months having more fun. And tea. But now I guess I should use the time more wisely and post more.

Here goes…

* Not strictly true.

Probably the best advice I was given about one of my university projects was from Peter Salter.

Salter’s the type of architect who has only been commissioned to design a handful of buildings due to his unconventional approach to design and construction, besides his general awesomeness. On this occasion, he was invited to come and evaluate our studio’s final projects during and as I was an admirer of his work, I particularly wanted to hear his feedback.

Unfortunately he was quite unconvinced by my proposal to the point of saying “I just don’t get what you’re trying to achieve here”. Some architecture tutors, at this point, would leave to for a coffee or cigarette without explaining what they didn’t understand but to his credit, Peter continued ripping my scheme apart for a good half hour.

I think the best part of the discussion was that while it’s important to be emotionally attached to the building you’re designing, it was probably the first time I really felt a building actually change in my mind during a review, rather than in the studio afterwards. Previously, I had been too precious about my designs, despite knowing that an architecture school environment is aimed at developing your talents, not just being an arena to show them off.

Salter didn’t redesign my building for me, and the final design changed considerably from the scheme he saw, but it was a grounding experience that has honed way I question my designs ever since.

Building Design have just featured a brief summary of one of his lectures from 1991 (together with Chris Macdonald) and it reminded me how little press he receives compared to how much he rightly deserves.

There’s also some beautiful images by archidose of his work here.
Light monitor