This blog provides a perspective on becoming an architect. It follows the career progression of E2 Head of Visualisations David Obaro through a four-part blog mini-series. Each part will be released on Fridays during the month of October. This is Part 2 - The Experience Seeker.
Part II – The Experience Seeker
After my Bachelors Degree, ultimately I knew I was not the best student but I was confident that given the opportunity I could become an integral member to any practice. Summer 2015, the search began. Compiling all my work from university, I was confident in what I had achieved but my lack of work experience had become an unshakable chip on my shoulder. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have been exposed to architectural practice before university.
Directly or indirectly, I observed buildings and puzzled over their construction and material composition. This drove my inquisitive nature for building technologies and architectural technical detailing. This fueled my desire to get into the deeper design of buildings and become a professional architect.
With many iterated CVs and applications yielding no response, I persevered and landed my first architectural position as a Part 1 assistant, contracted for one month. I was absolutely chuffed with my efforts and appreciated the wonderful opportunity I had been given. For the first time, I had an insight into the daily life of an architectural practice. This was rather exciting; working on large scale projects, liaising with design teams overseas and developing professional vocabulary and vernacular.
MArch (RIBA Part II) – Fourth Year Project in Lagos, Nigeria
Fresh out of university I was keen to show off my creativity to inspire my teammates and receive as much constructive feedback as possible as this is a cornerstone for growth. I was involved in multi-million pound competition, which was intriguing as the requirements surpassed my wildest dreams as a designer. The mixed-use scheme consisted of a hotel, high-rise apartments, townhouses, shopping centre, skate and water parks, with a primary school and medical facility. This was huge, especially given we had just four weeks to prepare a well presented submission. Once the masterplan was drafted, I was tasked with the concept design of the primary school and medical facility, which turned out successful and received well by the client. This gave me a little confidence boost in my ability and my understanding of the dynamics of the design process as well as the dynamics in division of labour; to divide and conquer.
I have come to view my experience with the team as a timely and necessary stepping stone in my career. Playing a small part in the delivery of this enormous design competition was a thrilling experience regardless of it being short-lived. It opened my eyes to the need of visualisation efficiency. I have been seeking the next level in software use, and advancing my skill set ever since.
A month later, when the contracted ended I was keen to learn more and find my next placement. However, my search didn’t take long to fade. I had completely lost hope. Here I was again – back at the start line – feeling disheartened. There were days I had thoughts ‘maybe it’s racial bias’ but I found myself reminding myself constantly; ‘never be consumed by the thought of this’.
I soon picked up a role in a company that design and manufacture forestry machinery as a photographer and media specialist. Not where I wished to be but I had bills to pay. I was already set on returning to Architecture school to complete my masters program, so I made the most of the experience. I contributed to the design and development of two new website and media content management, which I enjoyed to some degree.
MArch (RIBA Part II) – Fourth Year Project in Lagos, Nigeria
Nine months later, I went back to Canterbury for my Part II qualification. I decided to get the most out of my studies, develop new relationships and engage with the university. I was energised and ready to tackle the year full of creativity pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. In my fourth year, I was keen to advance my Part I work experience with concept design and presentation. So I embarked on a journey with “The Other Studio” led by John Bell and I engaged in ‘B.A.L.I’ ( The Big Apple Lagos Island). This was a mixed used scheme which serves as a hub for the young entrepreneurs of Nigeria, providing open work spaces, entertainment and living accommodations with connections to the city via alternative means of transportations, such as skytrams and new train lines to ease congestion and attempt to eleviate Co2 pollution. The design explored a double envelope with a screening method made of TiO2 concrete, which acts like a tree absorbing Co2 and providing better air quality. The project tested not only my thinking and presentation skills but my ability to prioritise and deliver a well-considered illustrated narrative. I was keen to create models, maquettes and other forms of visual information available to the university so overtime I naturally picked up 3D printing, laser cutting systems and Virtual Reality. I have always strived to do something better today than I did yesterday. This way progress is made in self-development, no matter how small.
The most valued experience was our year-group fieldtrip to Venice, Italy. Being inspired by ‘Constitution Bridge’, and the journey of arrival into Venice, I took inspiration from ‘Piazzale Roma’ as a new destination hub for the city. This project involved the redevelopment of the current bus park into a public square, providing mixed-use facilities and a high-end luxury hotel. I believe what helped me the most through this journey was constructive criticism. This is as important for growth; the ability to receive and interpret criticism.
MArch (RIBA Part II) – Final Year Project in Venice, Italy
Before I knew it, my final year was here and university experience almost over. It was a daunting thought that after all this I was not guaranteed work experience but I was determined to finish this journey I had started. I started paying close attention to my work process, making it adaptable and efficient in order to become better at time management. If that meant taking up new software, I embraced the challenge. I gradually picked up Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper, Dynamo with Revit and a little understanding of V-Ray. I did some research and found the render platform Maxwell which saw me through my final year projects.
I often questioned my career path and the best route to success. Throughout, Part II was a period of soul searching; trying to understand what kind of architect I wished to become. Although I had little work experience, I had always wondered ‘would I have had a better chance in this industry if I had sought experience over education’. I had friends who had gone down the apprenticeship route successfully; they had years of experience which made me nervous. On paper, I had essentially no experience within the industry.
Nonetheless, I was impressed with what I accomplished at university. I understood: there’s always room for growth.
David Obaro is Head of Visualisations at E2, he joined the company in 2019 and has brought with him an injection of energy that has helped to revolutionise our approach to 3D modelling and CGI visuals. David is gaining experience and looking to apply this for his Part III qualification as an architect in the near future.
Did you enjoy Part II? If so don’t miss Part III, published here next Friday.