By Chloe Mawette, Architecture Intern at GAPD.
Hi! I’m Chloe Mawette, a 22-year old with an interest in Architecture. I’m currently an intern at GPAD after successfully applying to become the first Build the Way Intern. The internship programme was created to give young people an opportunity to experience the industry and learn the practical realities of working within an Architecture Practice!
So, why did I choose Architecture?
To be honest, I believe I’ve always had an interest in architecture without really knowing much about it whilst growing up. I just knew that I really liked housing/building designs and how people interact with them. My initial passion for becoming an Architect derived from my upbringing & the spaces I interacted with. I spent a lot of my younger years living in a council estate in East London and what I enjoyed the most about it was the big community aspect you experience. However, it’s clearly evident that many historic council estates within the UK are poorly designed and lack adequate maintenance. As a young child and resident, I had noticed this and always wondered why residents were not given a chance to give valuable design input into how their community could be designed and regenerated for the better.
Historic Council Estates within the UK: Example
These experiences ignited my desire to find positive ways to design spaces which are representative of the people that reside and encounter a community. I’m passionate about social housing architecture because I strongly believe there are ways to design affordable homes that are also of quality (something that wasn’t usually synonymous when talking about social housing in general).
I want to be able to play some sort of role in helping the overlooked voices in redesigning their own community as they’ll know what’ll work best for them in their space since they occupy it the most.
Newer examples of Housing Estates within the UK: Levitt Bernstein's Salisbury Estate proposal, Southwark Council.
Aside from this experience, one thing that truly solidified my decision in wanting to become an Architect was a bunch of personality tests I took. The results would always conclude that I’ll become an Architect in the future, so I did my research and I had realised that architecture is something that I’ve always been interested in - I just didn’t put the two together!
My ‘Build the Way Internship’ by POoR and GPAD: How has it been so far?
Since my start in September 2021, it has been 8 months since I first started at GPAD. I’ve been truly grateful for an opportunity like this! Time has really flown since I began and my experience so far has been great & full of support. Working in an Architecture Practice has provided me the opportunity to fully immerse myself within the work environment. I’ve luckily been able to encounter so many inspiring professionals, at different stages of their architecture career, who genuinely support me and want to help enlighten other young women like me.
Looking back on everything since my first day of being an intern, it’s quite crazy the amount of knowledge I’ve learnt and people I’ve interacted with in such a short span of time.
I’ve learnt to use programmes like Vectorworks (A CAD software used for drawings, designs etc.) and immensely improved my skills on Photoshop, InDesign and Sketchup.
I’ve also been out on site visits to see the process of the different stages within a project. These visits helped me to understand the importance of each step taken before construction can start!
One big thing I’ve been learning is how an Architecture practice operates within the industry. Learning about architectural processes and stages through real life projects is something I've enjoyed. This exposure has definitely set a good foundation for me to grow and develop in the industry!
#ApprenticeWay: Apprentice route over the conventional University route
I chose to go down the apprenticeship route because it made more sense for me to grow and develop in a mixed practical environment. I believe that when I’m put in a practical situation, I thrive more.
Although I really enjoy learning in educational institutions, I found myself losing interest from time to time and I would have to forcibly find ways to motivate myself to continue. However, now when engaged in tasks during my internship, I feel the motivation and drive to carry on due to the tangible projects my work contributes to creating!
I’m also a curious learner so when RIBA announced the launch of the apprenticeship scheme, I was completely open to this new way of learning whilst gaining knowledge and transferable skills. At the end of it, I'll still earn a degree level qualification and the bonus is the experience of working within a practice that I'll gain too. Figuring out what it is that truly works for you and finding ways to work up to it is definitely a more worthwhile journey, because the process will be more enjoyable. However, it’s still quite a niche pathway and finding one is quite hard – some advice I can give based off of my experience is to exude confidence, build and trust in your network – if you want to make progress in whatever journey you choose to make!
Black Females in Architecture (BFA) – The women in BFA have helped me reach the stage I am at now, without them I highly believe I would’ve found it harder to navigate within the architecture industry. You can find them here - Instagram: Blackfemarc; LinkedIn: Black Females In Architecture.
LinkedIn: Chloe Mawette
Build the Way Internship - https://www.buildtheway.co.uk/