Clare Nash’s first housing book talk 24/11/15
I was pleased to give my first book talk to the RIBA East Midlands Housing Group and the Northamptonshire Society of Architects. I will be giving more talks all over the UK in future months and it was really useful to receive feedback from my audience on ways to improve.
November 25, 2015
I recently received a phone call for Grand Designs asking if I wanted to be an expert judge on their panel. How fun to be a Grand Designs architect, I thought! They wanted me to appear on a new programme about eco-self-build projects happening in Bicester. They were interested in me as I am a female architect with a specialism in sustainability. They came and did a screen test which went very well. I received very good feedback following the screen test. Unfortunately they decided that the panel would be too architect heavy with two architects on it in the end. But how nice to be asked!
The programme will be about 10 self-builders who are building on the 1000 new self-build plots, at Gravenhill, south of Bicester that Cherwell District Council are offering. My job as an expert panelist would have been to make a shortlist of 10 from 20 potential self-builders for the 10 Grand Designs allocated plots.
October 25, 2015
At the RIBA Role Models launch event at Portland Place, London, June 2015
Why an RIBA Role Model?
I became interested in becoming an RIBA role model for two reasons. One, because I am a female architect and I have noticed for some years that there are very few of us! And two, because I studied Part 2 part time, a route that is not well publicised but makes studying architecture more feasible and less daunting financially.
Here is a link to my RIBA Role Model Profile
The only female architect in the office
I was fortunate to work in a roughly 50/50 male/female office for 5 years (after previously working for a practice of 14 staff where the only other female was the receptionist) and really enjoyed having female senior architects to look up to. Previously all my architectural role models were male (and most still are). There is nothing wrong with that. I have received a lot of support from everyone in the industry whether male or female. To me, it is a wonderful place to be, full of highly intelligent creative, witty people. But when you are sat in a boardroom with 10 other men, all of them at least 10 years your senior, but you are the architect and expected to chair the meeting, it is rather nice to have support from a female colleague who understands what that is like. Women, even those with high intelligence, lots of qualifications and experience, suffer from imposter syndrome (when you wonder when people might find out that you don’t really know what you are doing!). They talk themselves down, where men would usually talk themselves up. This can lead to higher stress levels and high levels of conscientiousness. The first one is unhelpful but can be relieved from feeling you are not alone, the latter one is a highly valued skill in any employee.
None of this of course, has prevented me from being an architect and starting my own practice. I am passionate about architecture and can’t imagine doing anything else. This is what has got me through, but also I have been very fortunate in the quality of experience I have had. I have never experienced sexism directly, but unfortunately know of many others who have.
While writing my book I have had the privilege of meeting some of my architect heroes which has been fabulous, but perhaps disappointing that more couldn’t have been female heroes on my bucket list.
Why do women drop out of architecture school?
I also have the privilege of teaching technology to architecture BA students. At BA level there are roughly 50% female students, this drops off to 20-30% at Part 2 level and even less qualify at Part 3. It made me think that something is happening in that year out that is putting off female students, but not male ones. I hope by being a role model I can encourage more female students to continue to pursue architecture which is a wonderful career.
Architecture has to be long hours and inflexible?
Architecture is famous for long hours and inflexible working patterns. However I have been fortunate to see another side to that. While working at a large practice and studying for Part 2, I worked 3 days in the office term time and 5 in the holidays. I was running 3 jobs on site, the experience of which fed into my course (technology was no bother whatsoever). It was usual for me to check emails when at university and if there was anything urgent from the builder, I could ring the office to send things for me. It made me realise that flexible working was possible in architecture. I was also famous in the office for leaving on time. It was rare for me to work late unless there was a very important deadline. I was concerned this would make me appear uncommitted. But I knew that my life outside of architecture (triathlon, gardening, gigs) left me refreshed for the following day. Because I wanted my life so much, I was very efficient in the day times to ensure I could have both – architecture and a life.
It is now part of my practice culture that people work flexibly for me. In the winter I enjoy a run or a trip to the allotment in the afternoon in daylight and work in the dark evenings to catch up. Why shouldn’t my employees also be able to do this?
Part 2 Part Time
As I have mentioned above, studying part time gave me the opportunity to gain really valuable experience while studying. I studied for an extra year (Part 2 is 3 or 4 years studied part time, I chose 3), but I went straight through to Part 3 as I already had enough experience, so it actually saved me a year of practical experience. It also meant that when I lost my job in the recession, I had enough experience to set up my own practice, something that would not have been possible for me, had I studied Part 2 full time. Because I worked full time in the university holidays, my salary was enough that I could pay all of my living expenses and pay my own university fees. University fees are much cheaper when you study part time, even taking into account the cost of the extra year. I therefore only have a small student loan from when I studied my BA full time. This may not be the right route for everyone but at least if more people know about it, they have a choice and at least financial reasons should not put them off architecture.
Here is a link to my RIBA Role Model Profile
August 2, 2015
I am pleased to have been selected as one of the 12 RIBA role models to encourage future architects from all kinds of backgrounds and to make it a more inclusive profession. I had great time at the launch event last night and it was lovely to meet the other role models. Not enough time to chat to all of them personally but hopefully we’ll chat at future events. The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) and RIBA president elect Jane Duncan put on a great event that brought up a lot of useful ideas for how we can make the profession more diverse and inclusive.
RIBA Role Models Project
RIBA Role Model Clare Nash
June 3, 2015
Barns Permitted Development
RIBA news shows Barns Permitted Development guidance for conversion to dwellings has had further clarification on what exactly is ‘undesirable’. Previously, this was undefined giving councils the right to refuse all kinds of applications because it found the proposed development ‘undesirable’. I have not found this to be a problem so far with any councils that I have worked with. But the need for this clarification shows that some councils are not of the view that barns should be converted to homes. However, one South Northants council officer did say to me “It seems the government wants barns to be converted into dwellings”, so perhaps more councils will be taking this viewpoint in future. It does also seem that overall, it is looking favourable for barn conversions to dwellings for the foreseeable future. The government has taken the time to produce this guidance, which it wouldn’t have done if this was a short term trial. However what happens following the election is as always, unpredictable.
For more on Barn Permitted Development see the following blog posts:
A recent barn conversion to dwelling project that received planning permission see here
If you would like to know more about the change in law for permitted development barn conversion to dwellings, then please see my blog here
March 20, 2015
In addition to existing staff, Clare Nash Architecture is looking for a Freelance Vectorworks 3D Architectural Assistant / architectural technologist or technician. Based in the UK, ideally not too far away from South Northants/Oxfordshire area so occasional meetings are possible. Clare Nash Architecture is very focused on energy efficient design and you would be working on predominantly rural projects; farm building conversions, listed farmhouses, rural self-build, extensions and alterations to existing buildings.
March 5, 2015
The training that leads to becoming an architect
As many of you will know, I have experienced a huge surge in workload over the last year. Because of this I have employed an architectural assistant, Lucy Holland. She is working on a variety of architectural tasks with me from Pinterest to building control drawings, all in a days work at a small architectural practice! I thought you may be interested in the the training that leads to becoming an architect and the sort of useful experience Lucy has gained before working with me.
Lucy Holland on one of many architectural projects she has worked on
I am in my final year of Masters in Architecture at Oxford Brookes University (Part 2) and have previously had a range of practice experience in North Devon, Bristol, London and Rome. I have worked on residential, education and healthcare buildings and enjoy the challenge of creating bespoke projects for individual clients.
I grew up on a working farm, which has helped with my knowledge of rural buildings and I am used to surveying and creating proposals for listed houses and agricultural buildings. In my first year of masters I specialised in vernacular architecture and regeneration, which helped my knowledge of adaptive reuse of existing buildings.
Working in Rome was a great experience that helped me to learn Italian and gave me the opportunity to work on beautiful Agritourism projects that re-appropriated farm buildings into new diversified uses.
Working in London gave me a great insight into working on large-scale high-rise residential projects and how to effectively use space on restricted sites.
Outside of studies and work I enjoy playing netball, keeping active and travelling whenever possible!
March 5, 2015
I am pleased to report I now have some help in the form of Lucy Holland an Architectural Assistant. Lucy is currently studying to become an architect and has a good background in historic buildings, rural development and has even worked on building projects in Italy, communicating with builders in Italian.
January 25, 2015
I am currently experiencing phenomenal workload and expect this to continue. Therefore I am looking for a local freelance architect or assistant who is familiar with vectorworks. It will be part-time and very flexible hours. Must have technical knowledge as building control applications will be the majority of the work. But design input would be much appreciated as well.
December 21, 2014
This week (4/11/14) Clare Nash Architecture received approval for a barn conversion in open countryside. See the project here
December 7, 2014