A Fearless Future: My career as an Architect

A Fearless Future: My career as an Architect

A Fearless Future delves straight into the heart of architecture. This series aims to highlight the future-thinking aspects of Architecture, and inspire new creatives to make real, tangible change to the habitable world.

In this blog, we interview BA (Hons) Architecture lecturer Will Jefferies, to find out more about his career as an Architect, and what a typical working week looks like.

BA Architecture lecturer Will Jefferies standing in a white studio in front of a window

What has your career as an Architect looked like so far?

I qualified in 1991 after 8 years of studies and practice experience. I began working in a series of small north London studios before joining Squire & Partners in 1997.

The firm had a reputation for designing and delivering interesting projects in London. This differed from my previous feasibility and retail work experience for other offices.

The firm had only 25 staff when I first joined but on leaving in 2016, some 19 years later, we employed over 240 people. I became an associate in 1998 and a director in the practice in 2001.

What projects have you worked on?

The most satisfying projects I completed were for the British Council in India and East Africa. The principal project was the British Council’s headquarters building for their operations in Nairobi, Kenya.

The site was on a hill overlooking downtown. It was a challenging project because of the sloping terrain and security issues for a public building.

We researched and used appropriate local construction materials and technology. We also used passive ventilation to make new offices and a knowledge and learning centre for the council.

An architectural scale drawing by BA (Hons) Architecture student Andrew Johnson
Student work by Conrad Areta

What does a typical week look like for an Architect? 

A typical week starts with a team meeting to review the project action lists. This is where we agree all the architectural team’s tasks and duties, what meetings need to be attended and what presentations or deadlines need to be met.

I will then be involved sketching and drawing details for design ideas for projects and liaising with the wider consultant team, for example, the structural and service engineers, on the designs.

A lot of an architect’s work is collaborative and is done in workshops to coordinate designs with other specialist consultants.

Much of my time is spent in setting up these meetings and reporting back to the client on their progress.

What makes a good Architect?

To be a good communicator.

This means being able to both listen and hear what other people’s views and concerns are about a project, and to clearly communicate solutions to them.

This might be in the way drawings, models and presentations are made but also how they are verbally communicated through written and spoken word.

"Architecture is one of human-kind's most creative legacies"

Will Jefferies, Lecturer, BA Architecture

An architectural visualisation by BA (Hons) Architecture student Andrew Johnson
Student work by Andrew Johnson

What’s the best part of being an Architect?

Seeing a completed project being used by people for the first time. In that moment the realisation of a design finally comes to life.

What’s the most challenging part of being an architect?

The unpredictability of the wider economy and how this impacts on business and new commissions. 

It means that it is difficult to plan for the future development of an architectural practice. On the other hand, it also that the type and pattern of work will always be varied.

An architectural drawing by BA (Hons) Architecture student Rory Wilson
Student work by Rory Wilson

What do you love about architecture?

I love good architecture with well-designed spaces and environments because it can make such a pleasurable difference to the quality of all our lives.

Why is architecture important?

Architecture provides shelter for most human activities enabling us all to survive. It is one of human-kind’s most creative legacies.

What does the future of architecture look like?

Recycled and flexible.

Much building stock is becoming unnecessary. Department stores and offices are changing along with shifts in the patterns of shopping and ways of working.

Redundant buildings contain much embodied energy and resources that will be repurposed, reinvented and reconfigured to our changing environment and living needs.

It will mean exciting new design challenges for all of us.