Finally, I have done it. I’ve reached my goal. Becoming an Architect is a personal achievement of persistence and dedication, as well as a great career move…but that was two and a half years ago.
In that time I have become a mother and a director at Green Tea Architects, a small firm in SE4. It is a practice that I have been working at for the past five years…and yes, in that order, mother and director!
I decided to write this piece and start a blog called Architect London in order to share my experiences with people interested in starting a career in construction and women reluctant to take the leap due to their current or future work-home life-balance considerations.
When I told people what I was studying, the most common question was - “Oh that’s a long course, you could have been a doctor!” Inside I used to think, but I don’t want to become a doctor, I wanted to be an Architect. I want to breathe life into new buildings and fix broken ones, not people.
What I like most about being an Architect is the varied nature of each project. No two jobs are the same, even small domestic projects. Not only this but seeing a project you imagined slowly come to life and finally see in use, is amazing. At Green Tea Architects, we have been fortunate to work on a number of projects which have created better environments for their inhabitants to work, play, live, learn and pray. This gives you a profound sense of achievement. Like the course, each project takes persistence and dedication but also requires teamwork and collaboration with other professionals.
As you may or may not know, the course is broken down into three stages. Part One – The Degree, Part Two – The Diploma and Part Three – Professional Practice in Architecture. Twenty-four months of experience is also required generally after Part One and Part Two. These months give real insights into working in an office and provide a new set of skills and knowledge that feedback into your university work. Part Three is undertaken part-time whilst employed at a practice and this is where you learn about contracts and running a business. This is the only time you undertake a written exam, submissions are otherwise portfolio based.
The course itself is varied in terms of what you need to generate - drawings from hand drawn sketches to CAD, and renders to maquette or detailed models to life size technical details. You acquire a great set of skills that you use throughout your career and life, which in turn enables you to be the Architect you want to be.
Whether it’s building bridges like Santiago Calatrava, London buses or an Olympic Caldron like Thomas Heatherwick, or even a brit award or Aquatic Centre like Zaha Hadid, the opportunities are endless!
I will end with what the course leader on the first day of my architectural education said to me - “Once you start on this course you will never look at anything the same again.”
By Charlene Campbell
Charlene Campbell is a thirty-one-year-old architect and new mother to an adorable baby named Bailey living and working in London. Currently a director at a small practice in South London situated in an old converted tea factory harmoniously named Green Tea Architects. Charlene is also a blogger documenting the intersections worlds of career and motherhood.
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