"A lot of statistical information and percentages which provided me with the opportunity to design an infographic. I've always wanted to try one and this presented the perfect opportunity; a way of clearly and effectively communicating a wealth of information in a presentable and visually stimulating graphic.

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How and where the mud blocks have come from for our Swawou School building was an interesting process. The first thing to source was an appropriate machine welded to the right dimensions, in our case the different machines varied between five and six inches wide by twelve inches long. Once you have this machine you need to find the right kind of soil to compact into the mud blocks. You fill the compacting machine with the soil then pull on the handle to compress into a mud block and release it.


The mud blocks should then be lined up to dry in the heat of the sun for a few days to a week, so they are solid and won’t crumble much, then they are arranged into a clam of anywhere between three to fifteen thousand. The clam is then lit on fire and left to burn for a few days ensuring that the mud blocks are well fired throughout. This process can sometimes produce some discolouring of the blocks through the smoke and the blocks on the outside skin of the clam don’t always fire fully. Each clam will have some wastage involved from these outer blocks. But they can be used in other buildings and for other uses.


Once the fire goes out, the clam is left to cool for a week, and then the clam can be taken apart and the bricks transported to site. Usually the best thing to do is to produce these fired blocks before rainy season then leave them out to soak up the rain. As the blocks soak up the water they become stronger. In our case we needed to use the blocks before the rainy season so we watered them after each day and every morning to emulate that experience.


Once fired and in place these mud blocks can stand for up to two years being battered by the rain from the rainy season and as soon as they dry out once protected by a roof they will be some of the strongest blocks around. No moving them after that!

The process of sourcing and producing these blocks was integral to our design on the Swawou Project and we were pleased at the influence it had on our workers. One of our most skilled masons was delighted that we were not rendering the building so that his handy work can be admired and another of our longest and most hard working unskilled labourers – Gadafi – saved some of his money from working on site and bought his own machine to start producing his own blocks which he will then be able to sell and make some money from. We were delighted to see the building having such a positive influence on our workers and it’s great to share that passion for mud blocks with everyone involved.

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"I wanted to take this post and introduce you to some absolutely gorgeous sections that have influenced me since my early childhood. They enhanced bedtime reading and invoked imagination. These drawings are found in The Brambley Hedge series of children's books, by Jill Barklem. It took me ages to hunt down a copy of all the books in the series. They are epic, in my opinion.

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Having worked full time for five years in conjunction with studying part time towards my undergraduate BArch Part 1 at Glasgow School of Art, After graduation I took a year out with well earned savings to travel a little, explore the world and most importantly volunteer and join in design and construction projects so that I could gain some valuable experience working with materials and doing the job of builders on site. The year out led me to some excellent people, projects and ideas of what I want to do with my life and career. Sustainable living became a large part of the volunteer way of life, and vegetarianism, community meals and permaculture food production became more and more important to me. It got me thinking, is there some way I can combine permaculture, food production and sustainable living with sustainable, off grid, well built and efficient buildings? Why live in an energy efficient building but still shop at Asda? Why shop and grow your own food, but your living situation drains you of gas and electricity?

I stumbled across the Centre for Alternative Technology in Mid Wales, where I was delighted to find they had a course for prospective Part 2 architecture students; a postgraduate Diploma in Architecture in Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies. Fantastic!! I applied straight away, the only Part 2 course I intended on applying to, and was invited for an interview. On my interview day I was blown away by the place, definitely for me. I couldn't stop telling everyone about it, and now that I've started it's by far the best place for me to be. A chance to explore my ideas through 18 months of full time education, attending one week every month. I can apply for a Part 2 at the end of the process and this is one step further towards my goal of becoming a fully qualified architect.

So what's the problem I hear you cry? Well there are 12,750 of them. That's £12,750 tuition fees that I cannot seem to obtain from any source!

As I am a Scottish student I cannot apply for a student loan through SAAS (Student Awards Agency for Scotland) because I funded my undergraduate part time by myself so don't qualify as a 'continuing student' which is the usual method of part 2 architectural graduates getting funding for their postgraduate degree.

As I have travelled for a year, and not worked, and now have a job which is a ten week placement and not considered full time, my credit rating is poor and the bank won't grant me a Career Development Loan.

As this is not a RIBA certified course, I do not qualify for any funding from RIBAs many sources.

I have already enrolled on my course. I have thrown myself in head over heels, love everything that it stands for, started a new volunteer side project within the CAT community and have the resources there that I need to explore my future endeavours. I want to create healthier, sustainable efficient lifestyles for people.

I am working full time in the three weeks in between the week long intense attendance required at CAT and am being funding for ten weeks on this work placement by a GoWales campaign.

So dear lovely people out there, do you or your company fancy sponsoring an enthusiastic architecture student in a predicament? Small or large, any donations are going to help me on my way!

You can tweet or email me if you are interested in helping, or have any further information that could help my situation. All suggestions welcome!

EDIT : I reapplied for SAAS funding and moved back to Scotland. I was awarded the tuition fees in loan from the Student Loans Company. Still not ideal and I have to pay it all back - but it provided me with enough loan to actually do the course!



I struggled for years to understand architecture. I've had a few 'A-Ha' moments that have helped me to understand what it's all about but when I read about famous architects from the past and their 'utopian' city ideals I just don't feel a connection. In fact if anything most things I've learned thus far in architecture I haven't agreed with or haven't believed in. Many times I've felt like I'm swimming upstream, occasionally finding a slip stream in the current but generally just plodding along. I took a year out from architecture, from the education and office side of things and instead I explored the process of building and making, designing and playing, spiritual and healing and farming and food production, I've almost reached the end of my year out and it's extremely liberating to say that I have indeed changed; I've grown and developed, I've found myself and most importantly I've redeveloped a sincere connection with architecture.

I no longer feel like I'm misunderstanding or doing things the wrong way because I don't believe in many things the building industry does. I don't worry that I don't understand a word of what architects are pontificating and elaborating about. Ok, so I don't talk the talk or walk the walk. But times have changed, the world requires change and I feel strongly that a new attitude towards architecture needs to happen.

That opinion right there actually means I have more in common with the stereotypical architect than I ever realised. Architects want to change society for the better through the built environment, to express their political views through the creation of space and manipulation of the public realm. They want to enhance the lives of humans through space and environment. So actually as I've discovered I'm actually an architect through and through. I can't think of a better purpose in my life. I had just never realised that I'm just as opinionated and radical as the great and famous architects of the past - it's just that I have my own strong opinions!

What a wonderful relationship to have with architecture for me to get stuck back in to the profession and education once more. I start the Diploma for Architecture course at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales this September and I'm really looking forward to it!



So over the course of the last few years, the recession has proved difficult for architectural practices to take on architectural students. They have difficulty keeping on their qualified staff, never mind having to pay students for their time, and to be fair having to teach the students while they're in employment. Especially if the architectural students are RIBA part 1 students as this will most likely be their first experience of a practice and how things are run in the real world. As a result of this, many many companies, (and this isn't just directed at architectural companies) have been offering unpaid internships. Students need experience before returning to higher education and the companies cannot afford to pay them, so offer an unpaid internship with - if they're lucky - some basic expenses such as travel and lunches covered. The idea behind this makes a lot of sense; as a student if you're struggling to find somewhere for experience and you are told by the governing body RIBA that it is a requirement before you can further your education, then many people may just think this is acceptable and part of the many debt inducing consequences of choosing to study architecture.

However, you would never ask a graduate in any other field of study who holds a Bachelors degree to accept no pay for their first job. Perhaps if the job was a summer position and between years of study, it would be acceptable; gaining hands on experience in the field before graduating and finding a paying job. It is actually legal to offer unpaid internships for a period of three months, and I'm certain this is what it was aimed at - summer internships.

Architecture requires an entire year of work experience, between Bachelors and Diploma/Masters, although RIBA has conveniently altered the requirements down to a minimum of three months recorded experience. Again, to be fair to RIBA this is to ensure the students aren't missing out and can still gain the agreed credits and head back to further education. But, it has instead helped to contribute to architecture practices getting away with only offering three month unpaid internships.

You are either studying or have studied architecture, so you know as well as anyone that it is an expensive course. It has to be one of the longest courses and it requires a lot of financial input. There are course fees, materials, accommodation costs and general cost of living. For at least seven years. SEVEN. If you're on the fast track. You don't even have time to pick up a decent part time job to keep you going, and during the summer months you'll probably require a good job to save up and help towards the next year. I cannot imagine the amount of debt full time architecture students rack up in their seven years. Especially if they live in England or Wales where they are paying course fees as well.

So with this in mind, I really can't understand practices that have the audacity to offer unpaid internships. Do you think these students are made of money? That they have rich parents or an inherited trust fund? If these are the interns you are taking on, then you've condemned the regular middle or working class student and hindered their educational progression and put the privileged one step ahead.

Another argument in favour of offering unpaid internships is that the practice puts time and effort into teaching the students, but my counter argument would be that if any person in your office is contributing to your practice making money then they should be paid for their time. They make you money, you pay them money. Simple.

I know it's a hot topic of late, and times are hard. Students need the necessary experience and those who don't gain it begin to question their continued studies. Practices are all struggling to keep going and I think it's admirable that they wish to take on students and give them experience. I just don't think it should be at the expense of the student. While they are working for your practice they require money for accommodation, food and living expenses...if you are not paying them, where do you expect them to get this money? There really is no debate. A graduate can voluntarily provide their skills if they wish but practices should not be offering unpaid internships.



Is it just me or does anyone else feel a nagging sense of guilt whenever they're studying in further education? Living in Scotland our course fees are covered by SAAS the Students Awards Agency for Scotland. Each child is offered one undergraduate course funded for by the Scottish government. Sounds like a dream for many of you who studied elsewhere and have had to fork out a fortune for pricey course fees each year?

Because of this opportunity of 'free' studying we were all just expected to attend further education; if you had the right grades then why would you not gain a degree and further your prospects in life right? Careers guidance teachers are presented with the tough job of trying to steer teenagers into making a decision that could affect their career paths. Not once did anyone suggest to myself or so called 'brighter' peers that we would flourish in an apprenticeship or any sort of 'unacademic' course. That was just for the kids whose grades weren't up to scratch.

As a result of this socially accepted path my parents saved a sum of money that would cover my rent at uni, and I would find a job and save during the summer months to provide my everyday expenses.

After the first year, I realised with remorse that the course I had chosen was not for me. I searched for opportunities within the industry for work experience during the summer months and couldn't find anything. On further research I found out that there was only one job a year in my chosen field and I was on one of three brand new courses in Scotland churning out 60 students each a year. For one job? The odds were not in my favour.

I started searching for another career path to follow, and my mum suggested an apprenticeship in architecture. Architecture was something I'd be good at and had an interest in, but it was the idea of an apprenticeship that struck me most. Having dabbled in self reliance and providing for myself for two years the thought of earning a salary and supporting myself working and studying was ideal. Working on the job and learning the theory at the same time made sense to me. Practical and hands on.

In terms of studying, course fees and living expenses, I felt a huge sigh of relief. I wasn't going to be using my parents money any more and would be able to provide myself with independence, a flat, a car and a comfortable lifestyle. The practice I worked for helped with my course fees which were a lot lower than full-time fees, and I had my salary to cover any material and book expenses required by the course.

Having now graduated and received my BArch I face the decision of where to study next. I have to gain a Diploma of Architecture before sitting a final exam to become a qualified architect. Once again I find myself worrying about money and opportunities. If I take out a loan for fees and living expenses then I have to ensure I can land a job when finished to pay off the loan. We can't progress much in this chosen career without achieving the next qualification and with that comes a huge commitment.

Whether you rely on your parents, your other half, an inheritance or the banks to help you, does anyone else just feel this continual sense of guilt? All because we have to be academically qualified to do the job. What happened to the good old days when an architect took an apprentice under their wing and taught them everything they knew eh?

Bring back apprenticeships. Mine was great.



On my travels through Costa Rica, on the south coast between Manuel Antonio and Quepos lies this magnificent restaurant perched on the top of a cliff, something straight out of LOST...but with more tourists...El Avion, the restaurant built around a C-123 Cargo plane. I'd like to think it crash landed here in the 1920's and they built around it. But alas, according to their website it was shipped here by ocean ferry because it was 10 inches too wide for the antiquated Chiquita Banana railroad bridges, then seven sections were hauled up the Manuel Antonio hill and put together in this prestigious lookout spot.

Too cool not to share, I hope you like it.


While on a roadtrip around the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, myself and friends stopped at Playa Guiones to take in the splendour of the white sand, blue skies and makeshift palm tree shelters. From where we entered the beach, halfway along I noticed an unusual building popping up from the trees at the other end.

I hadn't a clue what it was, perhaps a lighthouse? It was pretty colourful and an unusual shape. I was very intrigued. It didn't look like we could get to it from the beach we were on, but as we were heading north along the beaches I figured that perhaps we could see it from the other side at the next stop.

When we reached the next beach, it was beautiful, lovely fishing boats and rocky areas, and there poking out from the tops of the trees was the building. Someone suggested it might be an observatory judging by the circular balcony we could make out.

I decided to climb up to get a better picture, there was a 45 degree incline from the beach up to the building and the remnants of a pathway. Scratching my knees and ankles I made it up, but there was no fence. The more I explored the more obvious it became that this building was abandoned and no longer in use.

As I made my way up the estate to a ginormous swimming pool and outhouse, I started to get excited about the prospect of this building being abandoned. I could see things hanging upstairs and a couple of items that suggested someone was living there, but it was definitely no longer in use as a hotel or whatever it was.


spot the german shepherd…

I cautiously made my way up the open steps of what appeared to be a restaurant, when my heart did a little flutter - there was a German Shepard dog, asleep under a fusball table. I backed up, amazed it hadn't woken up as I was so close and made my way back to the swimming pool and up the other side of the swimming pool area. I figured this was safe enough as I was far away from the house and any potential inhabitants.

At the other side I found myself at the end of a well maintained lawn, with a view of the whole building tower. It was unfinished in places but still absolutely stunning. Behind me were rows of cabinãs presumably rented out back in the day, with access to the restaurant and pool within the bigger building. I cautiously peeked out to take photos in case there were people inside and then turned and made my way down the steps heading back to the pool and the way I'd came.

This is when my heart jumped. I heard dogs barking. Dogs plural, not just one. They were coming from the house so I prayed with luck that one of the others had come up looking for me, and the dogs were barking at them from the front. But no. Within thirty seconds before I even had time to think, four dogs came shooting along the maintained lawn, whizzed passed me and started down the line of cabinãs. Even at this point as my heart jumped I thought maybe, just maybe they'll run right past me and continue looking for some other imposter. But alas. They stopped right next to me on the parallel path, turned and growled. In the split seconds between them jumping over to me, I wondered whether I should run. Fight or flight right? My heart was pounding. All I thought was, "Don't snap at me, don't snap, please don't snap...but at least I have my rabies shot!!"

So it turns out I'm a fight, not flight. Running? Are you kidding me, that would have been far more terrifying, with them snapping at my heels, and a 45 degree angle slope down to the beach. No. Logic prevailed and with a series of "ssh"-ing and rotating so that none of them would snap, I proceeded with caution towards the lawn, hoping beyond hope that there were in fact people within the building.

Fortunately there were two men, up in the building and looking out over the lawn, they shouted at the dogs and I stumbled up the lawn, hand on my heart and managing to repeat the word sorry in Spanish over and over. I explained that I was an architectural student and the man didn't seem too fazed. He motioned for me to come in, or that it was ok, and I headed back down to where I'd come up. However instead of climbing down to the beach I decided I'd walk along the driveway to the road and back to the car park before getting the others. I was shaking and my heart was still going nineteen to the dozen. The sounds of the dogs barking kept me alert and eventually I found a path to the beach just as the others came up looking for me.

They said they'd heard dogs barking and one of them had actually made the joke of "that'll be Kirsty being eaten by the guard dogs then!" I told them what had happened and I headed straight for the car for some water and a chocolate snack. I was in shock.

After twenty minutes or so of talking to a local guy, (and me getting my heart rate back to normal) we left the beach, and I drove up the exit. As we reached the entrance to the hotel, we drove up and someone got out to go ask the men if we could come in and see the building and take pictures. They had better Spanish than the rest of us!

There was a brief moment where we heard the dogs barking and saw our friend running towards the car, which was quite entertaining, but the guys called out to her and we drove up to the front of the house. They locked the dogs in a room, there were seven or eight in total, and allowed us to look around.

The local guy we'd been talking to on the beach told us that it was designed by John Fraser eighty something years ago, as a hotel and restaurant but that his (the local) family who own the beach front location got the area turned into a national reserve beach and that halted construction so John Fraser was no longer allowed to do anything with it. I think the current owner can live in it as a residence but can't renovate or build or use it as a hotel. The recent earthquake caused damage to the tower so I'm not sure if they are allowed to even fix that.

It's an absolutely gorgeous building, almost made better as it's abandoned. The downstairs area that I saw coming up from the beach apparently hosts a whole building underneath the swimming pool according to the local.

It was an absolute gem of a building, and it's a shame we couldn't get up to the tower, but what we saw was definitely worth being chased by a pack of dogs!

It's just one of the things that I do for architecture.



It’s amazing what you can achieve in half a decade.

I started at Lawrence McPherson Associates when I was just 19 years old. I’d stayed on at the University of Paisley until the summer in order to finish my year and obtain some type of qualification, in case I needed it to fall back on. Forensic Science. That was a laugh.

I started on the 11th June, just a week after moving home and back in with the parents. A small symbol of defeat for many, but not for me, I had this fantastic new opportunity to work in a creative industry, learning practical skills and earning some money. I was extremely pleased and excited. Always one step ahead of my friends and peers, I now held a full-time position in a ‘real job’ and absolutely loved it.

The Practice back then was in full swing. There were three partners, two town planners, four senior technicians, five technicians, a secretary/receptionist, finance administrator and myself – a trainee architect. Over the following two years the Practice grew further taking on another trainee architect, an associate, two more architects, three technicians and opened an east coast office hiring four additional technicians.

The opportunities for me to get involved with every aspect of architecture was available. Surveys, planning drawings, detailed drawings, on-site visits, site meetings, building regs and CAD standards. It was all there for me to get involved with and soak up like a sponge. I had responsibilities, I contributed to the office, both with my own daily and weekly tasks and socially - arranging team building events and encouraging the monthly ‘guys games nights’. Yes. I was one of the guys!

Early on Steve got me to learn how to use Google Sketchup, it was something they’d just started to utilise as a design and presentation tool when I started. I very quickly picked it up and in no time at all became the resident SketchUp expert. It was a fantastic feeling to have a skill that not many could do and that I could pass on and teach to other members of staff. SketchUp Queen.

In the first three to four years I was given small design tasks but nothing too strenuous  I wasn’t that confident about my design abilities and preferred to use the Art School to test these skills while learning more practical skills within the office. I have since discovered that I love picking out colour schemes when the technicians hate it = win win!

Something in the summer of 2009 suddenly clicked (see my blog ‘From Space Planner to Architect’ for further explanation) my confidence in designing grew and I was given the opportunity to design a Premier Inn at Newton Mearns. I think I did a grand job if I do say so myself and the clients were extremely pleased with the outcome. As has been a general trend throughout the UK over the last few years, LMA had to downsize on several occasions losing staff and eventually closing the east coast office. A ‘core’ team of staff members still remained and I was lucky enough to be a part of that. Never underestimate SketchUp skills!

Having grasped a lot of the creative and practical skills undertaken in an architects practice when everything is running smoothly, I was then thrown in to the world of procurement, advertising and trying to win jobs and clients to bring in work. Steve and I attended workshops on PQQ writing and for most of 2010 and 2011 I filled in a lot of these forms, getting to grips with the business side of the Practice.

We joined Twitter and quickly formed a group of contacts and acquaintances online. We started a weekly newsletter and wrote the occasional blog as well. All this was fundamental in bringing the Practice up to speed with Social Media and created contacts from all over the world. It inspired me to get involved with other members of the industry and share experiences.

In my time at LMA I’ve done a bit of everything; I’ve learned the fundamental ‘how to’s’ - how to draw, how to do a survey, how to use linetypes, how to use different computer packages, how to number drawings; I’ve had on-site experience – that first time when my hard hat flew off my head and over the side of a three storey building ! – no one was hurt; I’ve gained design inspiration, and been exposed to styles and different opinions; I’ve learned unique skills and how to use computer aided packages to a high standard, pushing myself and the Practice’s presentations to a higher level; I’ve learned how a Practice is run and what is required from everyone to keep it working; and I’ve learned about procurement, fees and the costs of running a business.

Considering the alternative was three years full-time at university and a year making tea, drawing door schedules and folding drawings, if I even managed to secure a Part I placement at all, then I think I’ve achieved an incredible amount of irreplaceable experience, knowledge, skills and support in my time at Lawrence McPherson Associates.

I have everyone at Lawrence McPherson Associates to thank and wish to sincerely thank them for everything they have done for me.



Seriously. Sustainability is not a real word. It is common sense re-packaged as a buzzword and sold off as the latest earth changing idea.

That just about sums up the over consuming attitude of human beings in the twenty first century. Here, have a bottle of water for £1.50!

Sustainable design is a phrase invented by a generation of guilt ridden people, digging themselves out of their previous gullible adoration of a bunch of crazy egotistical ‘modernists’ who selfishly indulged in creating bigger than life artworks, loosely disguised as buildings, urban sprawl, and townscapes that didn’t make any natural sense.

I was born in Britain in the late 80’s. This means that I grew up in this ‘sustainability’ retrofitting, oh-the-high-rises-were-awful, lets all learn from our mistakes era. Sustainability has become this key word that is supposed to explain how the world can change for the better and how we can right all the wrongs. And yet, my generation quite simply just accepts that this is common sense. No need to feel guilty, no need to invent phrases and re-package the obvious into a grand scheme to end all problems. Sustainability is just common sense.

If people want to live more effectively, healthily and joyfully - grow your own vegetables, or get them from nearby; be near a source of water, have greenery all around you; build buildings with lots of light but enough shelter, that keep you warm or cold depending on what country you’re in, but passively; provide outdoor spaces, parks, places for people to enjoy and relax; provide a systematic transit system or walkable distances, and well thought out infrastructure.

There’s a reason why there are several ‘zero carbon city’ schemes cropping up. It’s because it’s easy, simple, we have the technology and it makes common sense. Not because it’s ‘sustainable’.

Do you want to live/work/socialise in a building that is overshadowed, has no views, faces north or requires an obscene amount of electrically run technology just to heat, light and ventilate it? No, didn’t think so. Stop calling it sustainable design then. Just call it common sense and human nature.



With the recent success of the Architects’ Journal Women in Architecture Awards last month,  the outrage over the 21 all male speakers at the RIAS Convention this month and stumbling upon Parlour – it made me remember and revisit it. Hope you enjoy my insight into how I’ve found femininity in the architecture profession.

The more I learn about architecture the more I realise and accept that my designs are actually quite feminine.

In my five years of studying and working I have been pretty cautious and somewhat scared of designing what I like - organic shapes, curves, ornamentation, soft colours, delicate designs, subtle and elegant details. I’ve tried to train my brain to think and design along the lines of my co-workers and fellow students. Tutors always claiming the concept isn’t bold enough. It’s taken time, and trust in my self and my own opinion to understand that what I like and naturally aspire to design isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

Near the beginning of this term in a lecture about Adolf Loos I realised that being a modernist (of which we are all victim to, given our time) is to degrade ornamentation and reject nature. He was responsible for training generations of budding designers into thinking that clean and simple was the answer. Nature represents femininity. Nature is delicate, pretty, organic and subtle. It could be argued that abolishing ornamentation is to get rid of the feminine.

Without ornamentation, buildings wouldn’t have personalities, would they? Even Adolf Loos created a fairly ornamental bedroom for his wife despite being the man that proclaimed that ‘ornamentation = crime’. Is this because ornamentation is a feminine attribute or is it because architecture should be free from ornamentation, in order that personality can be injected into it by each of the individual occupiers?

My analogy is this : I have never dressed prettily, flowery, girly or frilly. I like my staple clean cut items, my mono block colours, my simple pallet. But I always always brighten this up, funk it up, or punk it up for whatever the occasion requires or my mood takes me with jewellery and accessories. I inject my personality and ornamentation into the outfit.

As a society, generally speaking we no longer express our wealth and status through our fashion. Sure, clothes can still be more expensive and of a higher quality, but there are no longer detailed, delicate folk dresses. Men no longer wear inner coats, outer coats, jackets, belts, suspenders, waistcoats and a pocket watch. We have modernised our fashion, throwing out the ornamentation to some extent.

This is a similar situation within architecture. We no longer spend extortionate amounts of money on a gold leaf and intricately carved marble lobby. It’s simply constructed and then interior furnishings are purchased to ‘jazz the place up’.

So do I have a right to criticise modernism, blame it for the lack of feminine ornamentation and suggest that the industry is more masculine when I myself walk around wearing examples of modernist design and the effect of de-ornamentation?



These are my Young Professionals Guide to Starting Twitter Rules : Rule #1 : Start tweeting. People will follow you if you have something to say.

Rule #2 : Follow people in your industry. Hopefully they’ll follow you back. Engage with them, thank them for following you.

Rule #3 : If they tweet something interesting, comment on it or re-tweet (RT) to your followers.

Rule #4 : Don’t go straight for the big guns. You want to follow people you’d actually meet and connect with in real life.

Rule #5 : Follow similar people, young professionals with a similar job description. You can interact and learn from each other.

Rule #6 : Tweet about your job (views are your own) but keep it professional. The actual day-to-day tasks and observations are far more entertaining and interesting that the official company tweets.

Rule #7 : Remember at all times, everything is public, keep it professional (albeit with your own personal touch) respect each other, be as politically correct as you can be - everyone is entitled to their own opinion but ranting strongly about a hot topic may lose you followers and respect.

Rule #8 : Try not to tweet your friends too often, and keep it simple. We don’t want to know when and where you’re meeting for the cinema next Tuesday.

Rule #9 : Get your company to start you off, for example a quick tweet from @WestFM “Our morning travel presenter Frenchie is now on twitter, follow him @Frenchieonair”

Rule #10 : Join in on #FridayFollows. Every friday you suggest to your followers people worth following. Always try and give a reason as to why you would want to follow them, for example “#FF for interesting links and great musical suggestions follow @Frenchieonair” Use this link as a good guide to Friday Follow rules.

Rule #11 : Give it time. 6 months on and you’ll have learned the ropes, made some excellent contacts and friends and hopefully gained a few hundred followers.

I hope this has been of use. Go forth and jump into the world of twitter, happy tweeting!



This Monday marked the launch of a new UK wide student body - The Architecture Students Network (ASN)whichlooks to replace Archaos founded in 1999.

The ASN will be an independent network of student representatives from the schools of architecture within the United Kingdom. They will focus on supporting and promoting architecture student events, harnessing student opinion, and engaging with both national and international relevant educational organisations.

It has taken over from and will continue the positive work that Archaos had been doing over the last decade. A statement from The ASN explained, ‘Building upon the positive work that Archaos has been doing over the last decade, the ASN would like to thank all of the students from Archaos, for their efforts in instigating fairer student working conditions and making a perceivable impact in clarifying information regarding the architectural education system in the UK.’

The ASN will be hosting a series of events this summer in partnership with various schools, and will be running the second Architecture Students Assembly, an opportunity for students of architecture to meet on an annual basis.

The next meeting of the ASN will be held at the University of Greenwich School of Architecture, Design and Construction on Friday 9th March 2012 and they would like to encourage students to represent the opinion of their respective schools at this meeting to contribute in the formation of an exciting new organisation.

The network is part of the easa010 (European Architecture Students Assembly) legacy and has grown from a generally shared desire for the establishment of a viable network that promotes communication between students in UK schools.

Visit The ASN website here.

Click here for more information on the EASA.



My thoughts in response to Arch Daily’s blog posted on the 30th January 2012 ‘Practice 2.0 : Championing the young architect’s career, a lesson from technology startups’ by CASE (written by David Fano and Steve Sanderson)

Firstly, as true as most of this is in both the US and the UK, I’d say on the whole it’s a rather negative view of a young architect’s career path.

I have been finding more and more blogs that are either individually expressed views of people partaking in this venture themselves, or by a collective number of late thirty somethings who have passed that stage but can still remember and care to comment on the painful uphill struggle of getting to that point of ‘making it’.

It is probably easier to write negative views on a flawed system than look for the good in it, so I’m not knocking anyone’s blogs. In fact I enjoy reading them and I appreciate everything everyone has to say.

While I don’t disagree with the points made on the Arch Daily blog, and I know this is how the majority feels, I just thought I’d take the time to reply to this, as I have had such a great experience in the industry (so far) with the way I have approached my studies.

I want to give my positive spin on it, especially for those still in the process, or for the architecture students of the following generations, or perhaps even to let the more experienced architects out there feel a bit hopeful that it could still change!

Looking at CASE’s blog and their opinions on the intern experience in the US, I’m not sure whether the UK education system has any particular advantage over other countries?

After the first three years, a compulsory year-out in Practice is required. You cannot achieve your RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Part 1 qualification if you haven’t proven sufficient evidence of working within the industry. Granted in the last few years, what with the economic turn-down, they have relaxed the rules slightly, but that is only to ensure that they do not hinder students in their educational progression. Once you complete this year out, you are then expected to go back to university and do either a Diploma or a Masters (it all really confuses me, to what kind of qualification and where) but something that is RIBA acreddited and will get you to pass the RIBA Part 2 exam.

This is when you are required to go into Practice and work on a full project from inception to completion, so that you understand the process and when you sit your final RIBA Part 3 exam and interview you are quizzed on the various problems that came up during the project and how you dealt with them.

I’m not sure how this compares with the American System? Does anybody want to comment and let me know?

Secondly, my solution to how it could work; may be obvious to me, and to those who know me, but has anyone considered an internship/apprenticeship approach?

This means that you don’t leave school without many of the practical skills necessary to work on aspects required by the Intern Development Program but rather pick them up as you go along. Yes, you do get assigned to one particular phase and yes you do have to tolerate it, but it teaches you a lot and it doesn’t waste a further three years as you’re combining studying with working at the same time so it becomes a part of your education.

Another argument that the CASE blog puts forward is that the process doesn’t give young architects the tools and experience needed to run their own practices. I would argue my case for internships/apprenticeships as you are able to learn everything you need to know about how to run a Practice without actually handling any of the reponsibility or stress. I pick up on everything that goes on around me, and over the years (in conjunction with my studies) I have built up an excellent view of what to do and what maybe not to do and the problems you face and how difficult it can be to run a Practice.

As an apprentice from the very begining, I’ve not been exposed to the full creativity of university, where you can let your imagination run wild, and then the consequent let-down when you start your working life as an architect and experience the everyday mundane tasks, stressful time constraints, limited budgets and unimaginitive clients. It seems it has been a let-down for many of you.

My career has been quite the opposite in fact. I’ve known since day one that the real world and university are different. I’ve listened to the Architects around me moan about the job. I’ve witnessed every work experience school child we’ve had with us being told ‘don’t do architecture’. Even if it was said with humour, they’ve been fair warned!

Perhaps that’s why I take such a positive view on it. Such negative views from the very beginning has only meant I find things better than they were first envisaged, rather than the other way about : When I grow up I want to be an architect - and then it’s all downhill from graduation, dreams of drawing all day and creating masterpieces dampened by reality, budgets and experience.

It’s a tough world this architecture. And if we’re going to encourage further generations with Mattels new Architect Barbie and Lego’s famous architecture buildings, then maybe the key is to let them know what they’re in for from the very begining. Guidance Counsellors - we’re looking at you!!

My blog requires I end with a question in order to allow replies, so without further ado - any questions?



With no idea what to expect I pulled up to Newton Primary School with a homemade consulting board game and a powerpoint prepared to give a short presentation to an unknown number of primary school children about Architects and what we do. Of the small class, only a few turned up for the presentation but the computing suite With no idea what to expect I pulled up to Newton Primary School with a homemade consulting board game and a powerpoint prepared to give a short presentation to an unknown number of primary school children about Architects and what we do.

Of the small class, only a few turned up for the presentation but the computing suite was full of other children who were very interested in the buildings too.

Far more informal than I expected I sat down on my child sized chair with my lime green tumbler of water, asked the boys their names, chatted to them for a few minutes and then began to flick through the presentation. They asked a lot of questions and I got a lot of feedback and interaction.

They wished they could attend the colourful schools and were surprised at the scale models and how detailed they were. The boy’s latest project was to build a bedroom in a shoebox so we discussed the importance of scale and measurement and how they had designed theirs. There was also a section on structure and how that too was important for keeping things up.

The architecture that absolutely killed though was the futuristic buildings of Dubai. I showed a video of the proposed rotating towers in Dubai and Moscow and images of the floating cities. The sleek, futuristic, shiny buildings held their interest the longest and they were extremely enthusiastic asking a lot of questions before going off on a tangent about guns, cars and base jumping off the top of the Burj Khalifa…

It was only a short presentation followed by a little video I came across on YouTube called The Three Little Architects :

It’s based on the well known story The Three Little Pigs. They really seemed to enjoy it, and I was thanked several times from the boys for coming before they ran out the door to play football…well, at least they have their priorities in order!

Big thanks to @innovusdecors @architectming @benjaminmurdoch and @colorcoat for project suggestions and @55n for loan of the consulting board game.




Building Analogies

ARCHITECTURE is like the Human Body, there is a structure, internal services and an external skin.

INTERIOR DESIGN is like clothes, dressing up and creating personalities.

LIGHTING is like a pair of glasses or contacts, helping to see.

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE is like the hairstyle, needs to be kept trimmed but can enhance the external appearance.

Building Personalities

Brutalist concrete buildings are like Body Builders, solid and heavy but not particularly pleasing on the eye to the majority of people unless you appreciate the effort.

Renaissance architecture are like Shakespearian Actors, replicating an ancient language while using modern techniques.

Housing Estates are like Festival Goers, trying to fit as many as you can into one field with services such as water supply, sewage treatment and amenities required.

Modernistic minimalistic buildings are like Catwalk Models, not much to them but serve as a blank canvas for dressing with art.

- - -

After inspiration from Miss Arielle Schechter (@acsarchitect) and a couple of tweets on Building Analogies, my brain started twirling as I thought of some more.

Can you think of any others?

Tweet them to me at @koistycassels