RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Hannah Rozenberg

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

UCA, Canterbury, Thursday 14 November

As soon as I was told the name of the architect who was going to be my mentor, I briefly researched the kind of designs his practice had worked on. I was pleased to find out the practice was located in Whitstable and most of its projects were residential housing ones. However, I also read on their website that they handled domestic, residential and commercial buildings and could design extensions, new constructions, conversions as well as undertake renovations. Therefore, I was excited to learn more about the variety of the work accomplished in this practice.

We were warmly welcomed at UCA where the first meeting between the mentors and the mentees took place. As soon as my mentor, the other student I was paired with and I introduced ourselves, the architect told us about his background and how he ended up in the pleasant position he currently holds. He then told us about the way his practice is run and the type of projects they take on. I was able to ask him numerous questions about what I could expect in the future as an Architecture student as well as in an Architect position. We ended the meeting by deciding upon a new date to get together again in less than two weeks’ time.

The Practice, Tuesday 26 November

After meeting with the other mentee and a journey to Whitstable, we arrived at the architect’s practice. It is quite small as I expected it to be and to my disappointment, nearly empty. Indeed, my mentor was the only one there because his employees were not working in the office that morning. After a quick visit of the office, he invited us to go into the meeting room where we consulted various printed files explaining past and current works. We then talked about the most recent ones and he explained the different stages of a particular large project that had been in development for a few years and was still not finished. We then went to his office where he showed us a very impressive list of the countless projects he had worked on since the start of the practice. He also showed us computer renders of the work that his employees had made. Also he showed us various orthographic drawings which he had hand-drawn as well as some he produced on a computer. Again, we ended the meeting by deciding on a date after the Christmas break, to meet again.

Overall, the meeting was very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the architect’s work next time we meet and possibly even a visit to one of the practice’s projects.

RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Emma Hilton-Grange

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

RIBA South/South East’s Student Mentoring Scheme 2013/2014 Record

Session 1

Today we briefly met our mentors at the UCA Canterbury campus. I have been paired with an architect based in a London practice. We were introduced to the company and were given a taste of the work they do, and the kind of company they are. The company mainly completes high-end residential projects, both building new and refurbishing existing structures. Previously the company has also taken part in larger hotel projects in the UK and abroad. It is a medium-sized practice, with around ten members of a team made up of both interior designers and architects working together.

Our mentor brought along the project we were going to see later in our meetings, a residential project in London. It is a total refurbishment of an apartment with a partial extension. From this we got a sense of the scale and type of projects the firm completes.

We were also told about the relationships with the client and between the architect and the contractor.

From this initial meeting I am really looking forward to find out more about the project he showed us as well as learning about the processes within a practice.

Session 2

Today we travelled to the office in London to meet our mentor. It was good to see the environment that the practice was working in and the facilities they had as well as briefly meeting the team. Whilst at the office our mentor explained to us the process of obtaining jobs, as well as the financial process of how these are invoiced and at what points. Clients tend to pay much of the money before the project has actually started being built, however as explained to us this is due to the nature of an architect’s work, as much of it is undertaken prior to any construction work. We were told how the contractor goes about invoicing the client and the client- architect- contractor relationship, as the architect is to work in the best interests of the client and to check the work invoiced is done. I learnt a lot today about the actual workings of a job as well as examples of projects that don’t always go to plan

RIBA South/South East Student Mentoring Scheme – Charlotte Earnshaw

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

UCA, Thursday 14 November

Prior to meeting our mentors I had briefly researched the practice I had been paired with and so was excited to meet my mentor and find out more about the type of work they take on. I think the majority of us from UKC were curious about how valuable the scheme would be to us; at this point we had no real indication of how often we would be meeting our mentors and what sort of input we would have within their practices. We had been expecting to gain an insight into the goings on of life in a practice and, personally, I had been sceptical about how often I would be able to meet up with the mentors considering the heavy work load of 3rd year, and of course the availability of my mentor.

After the initial introductions we were encouraged by the organisers to take a seat in the UCA meeting area in order to get to know each other a bit more, and we got straight down to booking our next meeting time, Tuesday 10th December. From there we discussed the type of design projects my mentors practice are involved in and the nature of that work. It was interesting to compare university experiences between myself and my mentor and was it quite encouraging to be reassured that the hard work during third year will all be worth it in the end, although obviously there would be much more work to follow. I was able to ask a few questions and gained some helpful advice about portfolio presentation and the opportunities available for part 1 architecture students after university.

The initial meeting eased my nerves and afterwards I was thoroughly looking forward to the visit to practice in a few weeks’ time.

The Practice, Tuesday 10th December

After a very early start to the day and several train delays I made it to the practice (fortunately, on time) in Hythe, Kent. I was given a brief tour of the two studios (upstairs and downstairs work on differing projects to keep things organised) and introduced to various members of the team – designers, structural engineers, model makers and interior designers. Initially I was working on a housing project but I was quickly moved onto a local school extension and redevelopment project in the early stages of design. During this process I met and worked with my mentor where the skeleton of the School layout was amended and designed. It was very interesting to see several architects working in unison on one project and this gave me a greater understanding of how best to schedule the design process of my own university work.

Throughout the day problems were found within suggested schemes that had been made and eventually we found a solution which accommodated the required dimensions of class rooms and other educational facilities. It was my job to take the sketched layouts and transfer these dimensions to a CAD document and overlay this onto a site plan. More issues were found and overcome during this stage as some areas on the guideline sketch had been over or under estimated.

At the end of a VERY long first visit I was able to reflect upon my contribution to the team and was invited back for a week of work experience over the Christmas holiday period.

Monday 6th January – Friday 10th January

I began the week by working on the same school scheme that I had been involved with on my previous visit. It was interesting to see how the scheme had developed and I was quite pleased that the areas I had been part of developing were working well within the overall scheme. Instead of developing the school further, I was given the task of planning out a small area of the site which was originally a school car park and playground space – the proposed area is due to become a housing estate of fifteen units. I drew up the sketch scheme in CAD, a similar task to the one I did during my first visit. This task took several hours as various factors needed to be resolved.

Later in the week I moved onto a different housing project and took part in amending plans and elevation drawings. This project was due to meet a deadline on Friday so it was imperative that I worked efficiently and made use of the time wisely so that I was not hindering the development of the scheme by being slow. I feel that this experience was very important and I was able to put into context the importance of design flare accompanied by efficiency and ability to clearly and effectively communicate to other team members. I had been fortunate to work with a part 1 student in her year in industry during this design process which was helpful and I gained many useful tips during this process. I also used my knowledge of Photoshop and other display software to help layout sheets to be viewed at a large scale as presentation devices.

Large meetings were held throughout the week about the two projects I had been working with and further developments were made to both schemes, it was interesting to see the number of people required to be part of the process as I had not anticipated the importance of large meetings such as the ones held in these situations and have gained further understanding of the implication of time and money towards large scale developments of residential and educational developments.

In addition to the design work, I participated in mass tea/coffee making and A1 paper folding, both of which I am incredibly talented at!

By the end of the week I was feeling part of the team and was glad I had participated in a full week of mentoring rather than one single day as it gave me a fuller insight into the general process of development. I am looking forward to a site visit on my third visit and am hoping to the see the school developments later in the year.

RIBA South/South East’s Student Mentoring Scheme – Anna Malicka

Stage 3 – BA (Hons) Architecture

1st meeting

The first meeting with our mentor took place in the UCA on Thursday 14 November. After the group talk to all participants of the programme each of the mentees had chance to talk to their assigned mentors.

My mentor is an architect based in a London architects firm. He seemed to be very excited to work with us as he used to have external mentors whilst he was a student and thought it was a very valuable experience. He showed us the project that he was currently working on in Camden, London. He brought with him a lot of drawings of the construction starting from general room plans and finishing on the design of tiny details like the sockets. We were overwhelmed by the number of drawings that were drawn only the one family house. I knew before that the work we do at University is only a tiny part of the ‘real-life’ projects. However, this exceeded all my expectations.

Our mentor made a great impression on me and I know I will learn a lot from him.

2nd meeting

We arranged the second meeting two weeks later in the London office. Despite the fact that we had to get the very early train to London, and I’m not used to getting up so early, I was very excited for the upcoming meeting.

First impressions of the office was that it was of average size. We were introduced to the whole team and our mentor explained the role of each individual working at the practice. Then he gave us a quick tour around the office. I quite liked the idea of storing samples of materials so that every time you design something or describe your ideas to the client you can use them. Afterwards, our mentor took us to his desk and showed us other projects they do. It was very fascinating to see real projects from conceptual drawings to the photographs of them being realised and inhabited.

I felt that the most interesting part of the visit was about the everyday life of an architect and things they have to deal with that are not necessary connected with architecture. Our mentor told us that he never spends a whole day on designing as he has a lot of different things to do that we’re not taught at school. He showed us that with the exception of CAD and Photoshop we also have to become familiar with other programmes we wouldn’t necessarily have expected to use. For instance, they have to use Excel all the time to keep track of the costs, expenses and earnings of the project. Also he showed us that there are a lot of publications that we can read while struggling with the legal and contractual procedures.

Later we went to the construction site of the house we were told about on our first meeting. The house is located in Camden and is nearing completion. However, the final finishing work is still going on and is due to be completed in spring 2014, with the practice refurbishing and redesigning the whole thing. It was very exciting to see the building after seeing the drawings beforehand. We’ve also now met the owner of the house and the lady told us that it’s a shame we didn’t see the house in the state they purchased it in as it has already changed dramatically. Our mentor promised us that he will show us the pictures as they record every stage of the project. Some parts of the building were built from scratch, for example a beautiful sculptural staircase which will become a central and focus point of the house. I liked it a lot. We were shown some interesting details and were told a couple of stories about the construction of the property.

After the site visit we went to the nearby café to talk about what we had just seen and got to ask any questions that we had. Our mentor spoke in more detail about his experience of first starting in practice and gave us a lot of great tips and advice for the future. The next meeting is arranged for after Christmas break.

Student Profile: Katarzyna Oskroba BA (Hons) Stage 3

Kasia Oskroba Photo for student profile

Coming from abroad to study at Kent has been a great adventure, and not for one day of being here have I regretted taking it up. The good reputation of the Kent School of Architecture and a  promise of a safe and pleasant living environment contributed to my decision to choose it over other universities.  Even though I took a risk by doing so, without visiting the campus beforehand, I was not disappointed. 

Currently I’m about to enter my third year of the Architecture BA (Hons) programme. I know that even moreso than the second year that it is going to be a challenge – straining both my intellect and my time management skills –  but I’m excited to learn even more about design, history and software. Part of the reason for my enthusiasm is KSA’s range of enthusiastic lecturers and tutors. They are not only experts in their own field, but also approachable and helpful individuals (often with colourful personalities). I appreciate the fact that during our projects we are given the opportunity to arrange meetings with our tutors and seek additional advice. Yet we are also encouraged to be creative and think outside of the box in order to realise our ideas.

My favourite module so far was Landscape, in which we were to design a wellness centre with theraupetic gardens. I enjoyed it the most because it opened my eyes to the ways greenery  can define open space, and how it can influence the image of buildings.

The group of architecture students at Kent is a very mixed crowd and, as cliched as it sounds, I very much enjoyed meeting people of various cultures and nationalities. Talking to students from completely different backgrounds about architecture, or even everyday matters, can be stimulating. The course is so demanding that a lot of us spends most of our days at the studio, working side by side; but that can only end up in either fierce rivalry or close friendship, right?

I like the fact that all of the facilities at KSA – computer and drawing studios, printers, workshop, and so on – are contained within one building. Last year we gained a new facility – the ‘Crit Room’, our department’s pride and joy, with its large touch screens which we now use for presentations. They are a step forward in the digitalisation of the coursework, but what I’m more looking forward to is next year’s rearrangement of Studio 3 which should bring more workspace for students.

Even though one of the consequences of taking my course is very limited spare time, I do my best to keep an illustrated journal of my everyday experiences and therefore always trying to improve my hand-drawing and painting techniques. I’m also a part of Kent’s Article 25 group, organising events to fundraise for this development and disaster relief charity. If I manage to squeeze in a good book and a long walk somewhere in between all these activities, I’m the happiest architecture student under the sun. After this course, I hope to follow a career in architecture, which includes an MA, but I will also be on the lookout for illustration-related opportunities.

To anyone considering studying architecture, be aware of the fact that it requires extremely hard work and dedication, but will equip you with a very wide range of skills and, above all, offers a new perception of the world around you.