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 3 - Life, in Practice.
Part III – Life, in Practice
During my Part II studies I began developing an understanding of the type of practice I wanted to be a part of. I was hungry for experience and determined to make it as an architect. In order to achieve this I needed to be receptive to architects who would appreciate and guide my talent. I was always more interested in small firms or growing firms because within that size of a practice you are more likely to be involved in every part of the business, from fee earning work through to business management. I knew I wasn’t technically developed as an architecture student however, creatively I had design capabilities. This influenced my search for practices as well as – location – living in the city of London has always been a dream, one I’m somewhat fulfilled in achieving independently.
In August 2019, I joined E2 Architecture+Interiors with high hopes, which have been surpassed by my experience to date.
Essentially having never used E2’s primary BIM software Autodesk Revit, I was nervous. My confidence rested on the fact that I had succeeded following the several stage interview process I had navigated successfully. During the first couple weeks on the job E2 Director Sam enrolled me in Revit Training at London Software Training for an intermediate course. This evidently improved my skill and confidence in handling building information.
One of the first projects I worked on that felt more personal was The Walled Garden’. For the initial site visit, I accompanied Sam who led the meeting whilst I observed, and photographically surveyed the existing glasshouses, which were in a severe state of disrepair. I remember the overwhelming feeling of being part of my first ‘contemporary conservation’ project. Back in the office, I was tasked with setting up the project in Revit and beginning the 3D modelling phase. I didn’t get it right first time but with perseverance I eventually did produce a compelling proposal.
Joining E2, I was aware of their historic rendering output and, doing my homework correctly, I came prepared with a proposal to take their visuals to the next level. The Walled Garden was the ideal project to deploy what I had prepared. I was sceptical about how this would be received. I had an understanding that, generally, companies have systems in place governing how they operate, and whilst I wasn’t necessarily aiming to change this, I was adamant on adding value to the team and curious about modern visualisation technologies. A risk that paid off, gratefully. This marked the beginning of growth in my confidence and made me feel I had become an integral member of the team.
The Walled Garden (click on image to see project)
I remember one of the things that really inspired me to join E2 was Sam telling me at interview that he would be my mentor and help me to become a project architect. After reading about and seeing the Pavilion project, I was elated at the potential that I could gain some kind of architectural independence and the knowledge to create architecture of that standard.
I place high value in ‘value-add’ experiences and as the saying goes ‘with great responsibility comes great power’… the more I get stuck into projects the more my knowledge on practice management keeps evolving.
I went on to take ownership of my next project, one of my favourite projects currently in progress, a replacement dwelling in the Green Belt on a modest yet complex site demanding yet another contemporary conservation approach. It has been interesting taking this through to pre-application planning. The process of preparing pre-app documents, managing communications between consultants, whilst trying to deliver your client’s dream has been a fascinating experience.
This has opened my eyes to some degree as to how the system works – through a need to justify of your proposals as an architect. I have developed a lot of understanding about the importance of relationships and communication. You can have the best idea in the world but how that building’s design interacts with real lives and emotions through time is the ultimate test.
House in the Green Belt (click on image to see project)
I have come to the realisation that life in practice is a constant evolution of self through professional development. That being said, my approach to becoming a professional architect is structured within a loose timeline of achieving the qualification, whilst focusing predominantly on improving my efficacy in daily outputs and engaging with the overall experience. As much as possible, I try to get involved with new processes and tasks that are out of my comfort zone, to reinforce my knowledge or ‘know-how’ of the business and profession.
I am now fairly confident in processing planning applications after working on several projects’ Design and Access Statements. These have included a roof extension to a residential building on Umberston Street and a mixed-use development in progress on Rosina Street. I believe it is vital to promote your strengths and develop an understanding of your weaknesses – in order to define how these can be minimised and/or transformed into strengths.
The solutions can sometimes be as simple as following an informative platform on social media. A great example I recently came across on Instagram is “part3plus” which offers digestible information in aid towards your part 3 examination. I strive to be wise about all my endeavours as the saying goes; ‘knowledge is power, applied knowledge is wisdom’.
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 III? If so don’t miss Part IV, published here next Friday.