The redefining of my architectural practice began in earnest at the UTAS Futuregrad workshop – a fantastic one day workshop for final year Master of Architecture students organised by Ceridwen Owen, Deputy Head of School and Program Director at the University of Tasmania School of Architecture and Design in September 2012.
Sessions varied from ‘Big Practice, Small Practice, or Going Solo’ to ‘Setting up in Solo Practice’ to ‘Working Locally, Nationally or Internationally’.
For the session titled ‘Alternative Modes of Practice’, I was lucky enough to share the floor with Tasmanian artist/architect Judith Abell, ex Qld Government Architect Michael Keniger and Jen Smit from the collaborative Mulloway Studio in Adelaide.
I did not want to sit there and talk about myself (well that’s not entirely true – I just did not want to talk about myself without some kind of visual I could hide any nerves behind) so decided to graph my practice since graduating in 2000 in a table called ‘My Career’.
x-axis – Years (2000-2013)
y-axis – Different modes of practice
- Personal = kids
- Education = graduation, registration, further study?
- Practice = working for someone, partner in a partnership, director of a company, design + build
- Education / advocacy = tertiary teaching, Melbourne Architours
Were I to update this graph now, I would add in a column under practice and call it ‘other collaborative practice’ – these are opportunities that have opened up since becoming ‘freelance’ (I wish there was a better word for this) that I did not anticipate at the time.
In any case, the bottom line shows how much my practice has diversified over the years – due to necessity, circumstance and, more and more as the months pass, CHOICE.
The second graph was titled ‘My Career 2 – Stuff where you don’t get paid’.
Although I absolutely do not advocate working for free in ‘traditional practice’, there are many wonderful things you can be involved in that don’t necessarily result in remuneration – but do add to your professional experience and networks.
x-axis – Years (2000-2013)
- Personal = Motherhood (anyone get paid for this?) + Various committees associated with my home and community. I am lucky enough to live in an architecturally significant heritage listed building but any committee at the very least teaches you about people and working in groups.
- Social / political = Committee member of Architects for Peace, involved in Pro Bono project with Make Architecture and Architects for Peace. Find something you are passionate about and do it!
- Art / architecture = Installations, Competitions. Being creative is fun and a great way to test ideas at a smaller scale and without the pressures of a traditional architectural project. Although I have been involved in a few, I am less inclined to spend what little time I have on competitions as there are many other things I would prefer to do ‘for free’.
- Education / advocacy = University of Melbourne mentoring program, guest critic on design panels across Univesities, public speaking opportunities, Melbourne Open House volunteer.
Being an architect is an amazing career – made all the more exciting by the seemingly infinite ways in which it can manifest itself.
How do you practice?