In the trade

Female Architects

Female architects can help you realise your Grand Design! There are a relatively small number of experienced female architects in the UK but one of them has found time to chat to us about her career in the construction industry.

female architects  Architect Helen Brunskill runs Brunskill Design – a small company which works in a wide area from St Albans and from Bath. Helen is fully qualified and registered with the ARB. She has masses of energy and enthusiasm for design and building projects.Photo: Helen Brunskill, Brunskill Design

Although now focussing on small residential projects, Helen’s recent experience has included the refurbishment of Grade 1 listed St Pancras station as a senior and lead architect.
Helen says it was a fascinating combination of “conservation works and slick minimalist detailing”.
Previous to running her own Architect Practice, Helen undertook work on many buildings in London, with other architects. Her own preference however is for site responsive, contemporary, light & spacious design.
“The construction industry is quite a macho industry, but as long as female architects don’t let that put them off it’s fantastic. The reason I think that I enjoy it so much is the creating of something marvellous from simply an idea. It’s easy to get enthusiastic about your project at the start. If the idea, or concept, is good enough, you can keep that enthusiasm going, till completion”.
Helen says she demands a lot from her buildings.
“Not only do buildings need to function on a day to day level, we want them to be helpful to the environment, including our carbon footprint. We also want them to be beautiful and well sited, a sheer delight to live in with lots of light and space. We want them to be affordable, if not a bargain. We want them to be ready, like yesterday and we don’t want any noise or mess whilst they’re being built”.
Helen says that clients sometimes don’t realise the importance of investing time in getting the initial planning of a design correct and they can underestimate the effect of late changes. She views most female architects as being able to cope well with these multiple issues, saying:
“Female architects can be good at keeping tight control on quality, cost and scheduling of a building project. It’s very much a team thing; everyone is needed for their expertise”.
Helen has found that on the whole women also tend to be good managers and good at talking to people on a friendly level. Helen enjoys working with both women and men, finding that many men are even more talkative than women!
Helen says maintaining a sense of humour and a sense of perspective are probably the most useful things in dealing with building which can be troublesome and problematic by nature:
“Above all, good construction practice is often said to be about ‘trust’ and ‘communication’ – well that makes sense because it’s the same with most tricky things in life!”
Thank you to Helen for her insight into the world of a female architects – for more details about Helen’s business please go to Brunskill Design.

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