Read our latest Budding Brunels interview - Architect

Sanaa is an Architect - Read her story:

This month in our Budding Brunels newsletter we are talking to Sanaa Shaikh.  Sanaa is an Architect at MAKE Architects in London.  Read on to find out what she has done to get to this stage and her advice to her 16-year-old self.

Tell us about your position:

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

What I do daily can differ hugely. Some days I might be on site with builders inspecting their work, other days I might be making physical or computer models, or involved in workshops with other consultants such as engineers or specialists who can help us achieve our intended design.

Do you get to go out on site and do practical work?

Yes, depending on what stage of the project we are working towards.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like the diversity of skills and tasks required of me. You don’t always know what the day holds and you almost always learn something new every day!

What is the hardest thing about your job?

Because we are usually the leaders of the design team, it can be difficult to ensure everyone else involved is working together harmoniously and that we all have the same goals in mind.

Tell us about how you got where you are now:

What did you study at university?

I studied Architecture. I had to do a 3-year degree that constitutes the RIBA Part I. Then I worked in a practice for 2 years; my first year in India, and the second in London (a minimum of one year in practice is required at this stage). I then went back to University for a 2-year diploma/masters course that constitutes the RIBA Part 2.

After this, I started working for a small Architecture practice in London and after a few years working I was able to do my RIBA Part 3 course, which is a part-time course you do during your working life. The Part 3 course is the only part of the whole journey in which you are assessed through written exams, as the Part I and Part II courses are all examined through coursework that culminates in the submission of a portfolio at the end of the year. This portfolio becomes what you are judged upon when entering the working world. After your part 3, you are given your title of Architect.

I have worked for a number of different companies after my Part 2 and I think it’s really important to understand the kind of Architecture practice you would like to work for, and that suits your personality. MAKE is a co-operative which means we are employee owned and all share in the profit the company makes. We have no hierarchy in our company so everyone is equal and treated as such, while I believe this is a fantastic company structure, it is certainly not for everyone as some people prefer hierarchy. Therefore it is very important when you are in the working world to start thinking about who you want to work for and why.

What grades did you have to get to get into that university?

I went to the Bartlett which is the Architecture school at UCL. I believe the grade requirement was something like BBC as they are more concerned with assessing you through a portfolio of artwork that you will have put together from both Art/graphics a-level work and personal art projects.

Did you see yourself working in the built environment when you were 16?


What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

Be curious! Ensure you do as much as you can to further your knowledge of architecture. Make sure you have work experience and when you do, ask lots of questions, try and spend as much time as possible working for real Architecture studios and understanding how they work as there are many kinds of practices out there.

What did you learn at school which you’ve found relevant within the role?

Maths A-level certainly helped me develop problem solving skills. History enabled me to develop research skills and an understanding of context and social conditions in different places which is relevant to architecture when designing in different locations. Most importantly art helped me to develop the skills to have an idea or a thought, and how to then develop it into something real and physical.

Tell us about your plans for the future:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself still working for MAKE, on both international and local projects. I also teach at University level which I very much enjoy and hope to continue doing.