Story 3 of our 16 part series on inspirational stories is written by Connor Heron for dandi London and his journey to becoming an architect.
Connor Heron - My Journey to become an Architect
Age 22. Part I Architectural Assistant
The process of qualifying as an architect in the UK is one of three stages – completing a three year undergraduate degree to achieve a Part I qualification, a two year postgraduate degree for Part II and a final Part III exam. Within that time frame, you must also complete a minimum of six months experience in practice to move from Part I to Part II and a subsequent combined two years of experience to take the Part III exam. So as an 18 year old moving away from full time education, excited for adult life and independence, knowing you have another 7 years of challenging study and work placements ahead as a minimum can feel pretty daunting.
But just like any journey the time soon disappears and you find yourself almost 4 years in. That is where I sit now, 9 months into my year placement between Part I and II. My three years of undergraduate study were certainly challenging at times, working 12 hour days every day of the week became a regular routine and developing design concepts that at times felt forced upon you by tutors was initially confusing. Moving through to my final year, however, I began to realise that self-motivation and individuality were key to succeeding in architecture. It wasn’t necessarily about taking on board all the ideas thrown at you, which you instinctively do in the earlier years, but more about challenging them and having strong reasoning for your own decisions.
In my second year, I had the opportunity to collaborate with two other students to produce a design for a creche in South Africa which was chosen by a panel of tutors and industry professionals to be built in April 2018. Also, in my final year I was awarded the Nottingham and Derby Society of Architects award for Raising Awareness into How Architecture can Address Socio-Economic Issues with my thesis project – Coventry Communitas. The design consisted of a mixed-use residential scheme, focusing on providing housing for Coventry’s worrying large population of homeless single-mother households.
Only since graduating have I appreciated the variety of transferrable skills that the course allowed me to develop. I also now realise that there are far more options for me besides simply completing the 7 years all in one go and qualifying at the end. I would encourage any young aspiring architects to keep an open mind when working through each stage of their studies. I think it is important to allow the process to take you where you want it to, not where you expected it to when you started at 18.
Alongside my current work placement, I am also working part time as a pen and ink illustrator, mainly focusing on buildings and landscapes – of course. My work and previous commissions can be found through my Instagram account below and I am available for future commissions, please feel free to get in touch.
Instagram : @c.l.heron