By Jo Poxon
They say that all good things must come to an end and after two fantastic years I am saying goodbye to Broadway Malyan and heading off on the next leg of my architectural adventure.
I could have gone a year ago but I liked it so much – and I hope they liked me – that I decided to stay on for an extra year after my Part One placement, the second stage of my journey that I hope will one day see me become a bona fide architect.
Barring those professions where you are entrusted with removing body parts, there is no training quite like that of an architect.
After becoming interested in design while studying A-level art and geography, I decided to take an architecture degree at Portsmouth – when the sun shines in Portsmouth you could be in the Costa Del Sol. Oh and the course also has a great reputation!
By the end of the first day it was clear that pretty much every preconception I had about architecture would need revisiting. I will never forget our fantastic tutor pulled out a pomegranate, cut it open and spilled the seeds all over the desk and said “this is architecture”. Maybe it was the freedom of expression or the bravery of her madness but since then I’ve been hooked.
To legally call yourself an architect you must do a minimum of seven years training. However, the reality is that an architect qualifying today will have taken 10 years and they may have done some part time and some full time depending on their employment opportunities and ultimately their financial situation.
I certainly consider myself one of the lucky ones having managed to secure my Part One placement with Broadway Malyan. I could have left last summer but the truth was I just wasn’t ready to leave – I was just having too much fun!
Although I loved the relaxed sunny lifestyle of Portsmouth, living in a large, vibrant city has always been where I wanted to end up. For the past two years I have been based in Broadway Malyan’s Birmingham studio, which has given me the opportunity to work on a range of fantastic projects both large and small, creative and challenging.
Broadway Malyan may have 17 studios worldwide but still has a small studio mentality so I have never been just a number – from day one I have been treated as valued member of the team (and I’ve genuinely never been singled out for coffee-making duties!)
While there have always been a system of support close at hand, I’ve been pushed right to the edge of my current capabilities, working alongside a director on a mixed use scheme on the edge of Manchester, which has included everything from running design workshops to presenting to the client. The rollercoaster of emotions that I’ve experienced throughout this process are hard to articulate but fear and pride are probably the two that stand out the most.
The past two years have given me a new confidence as the skills I learned at university have evolved to meet the day to day needs of working in practice and while I am looking forward to heading back to university, I will miss the daily challenges of working on real projects for real clients.
Broadway Malyan has a fantastic ethos towards its students and I could have remained at the practice as I embark on my Part Two and extended it over three years but I have instead decided to go to Sheffield and study full time for the next two years. I want to focus on the social impact of architectural design and really immerse myself for my Masters and this will be my last chance to do that.
I owe Broadway Malyan a huge amount – not least the fact that working there has allowed me to save to continue my studies – and I really hope this is not the end for me at Broadway Malyan but merely the end of the beginning and that we have plenty more adventures to come.
*We are looking for two outstanding Part One year-outers for our Birmingham studio. If you think that could be you please contact Hugo Fitzgerald.