Final Academy Blog – Rachel Alty

5 September 2017

It has been 12 months since I started my Part 1 year in practice at Pozzoni and I will soon be returning to Manchester School of Architecture to start a Masters degree. I have learnt a vast amount during my time here about the way in which practice works from day to day along with having the opportunity to develop existing software skills and learn new programs from scratch. I am lucky to have been able to spend my placement working in a great team of people who have always been willing to help and a pleasure to work with.

Getting used to the routine of practice was a complete change from the way of working during university, although this element of routine is something which I would like to be able to integrate more into my way of working during masters. It has been enjoyable to have a clear differentiation between time spent working and weekends / holidays whilst working in practice, a welcome change from final year of university.

I have worked across a range of projects over the year and have enjoyed the variety of tasks which this has provided me with. This has included several feasibility studies along with projects which have been at tender and construction stages and this has allowed me to progress and develop my Revit skills, a software which I had never used before prior to my placement at Pozzoni. It has also enabled me to cover almost all of the RIBA work stages which has been beneficial to my development over the year and especially when completing PEDR sheets to record my experience.

Having the opportunity to work on a 75-bed care home project in Kent from the early feasibility stages through to planning has been a greatly valuable experience. It has made it possible over the course of my 12-month placement for me to see the same project (which will form part of an overall masterplan) develop through feasibility and concept design and subsequently be submitted for planning. I enjoyed being able to be involved with much of the planning stages of the project as I was able to gain experience of what this process entails, something which isn’t covered at university.

More recently I have worked on a feasibility study for a large-scale care and assisted living development in order to complement current existing facilities on the site. This was a beneficial exercise in gaining experience of designing a series of buildings at a masterplan scale. Working in a team alongside two other architectural assistants to develop a collaborative design for the overall site has been both enjoyable and a valuable learning experience. It was rewarding to be involved in group work which flowed efficiently with tasks equally divided and making use of each individual’s strengths – a contrast to the chaotic group work often experienced at university.

The tasks which I have worked on over the course of the year have required me to use a combination of graphic based software – Photoshop, InDesign etc. and Revit software, with a frequent amount of hand sketching also involved. This has allowed me to refine my ability to use the graphics based software and learn a huge amount of shortcuts which will no doubt be extremely useful in the next stage of my studying during Masters. Since my last blog post my Revit skills have continued to progress and having the opportunity to work on projects which are at different work stages has allowed me to learn several of the different tools available through the software in more detail. I feel much more confident in my ability to use Revit and it is a skill which will I’m sure will be beneficial to continue to build upon over the next few years.

I am looking forward to the challenges of university and being able to develop my own studio work projects. I will be continuing to work at Pozzoni one day a week during this time and am grateful to be able to continue to gain experience of practice whilst also studying. Hopefully having this balance between the two will provide an alternative perspective on university studio work by being immersed in working practice for one day a week.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Pozzoni over the past 12 months and have met lots of great people here. I look forward to returning as a student and being able to maintain a much needed balance between university life and working practice.