Hello, Webroot one. Grab your sandwiches. This isn't the BBC, but maybe one day we will get that. Why go on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. I don't know why, but we're everywhere. We're going to join you for lunch today. We're going to be talking
about professional professional industry,
the academia industry.
So might be a blast in the past for some of you 15 seconds old will be revealed. Grab that pet sandwich. So I'm hoping today in 10 seconds we go live
Hello everyone. I am Stephen Drew and it's Wednesday. It's Wednesday. I think it's Wednesday with a bank colleague. It is Wednesday and it's one o'clock. And I'm trying to get with a face that you might recognize, and this isn't the BBC libraries. It's the university of Sheffield, maybe one or two. The students might know this individual as well, but at the gig is up and I've got here.
The fantastic sat. When the Samra from university of Sheffield, how are you doing today?
Um, really good, Stephen, thanks so much for inviting me and asking me to take part in this lunchtime chat. I'm really looking forward to having a conversation and, uh, yeah. Thanks.
Oh, sorry. Well, if there was no audience,
We'll pretend it was, we had to do it for random fact. So
appreciate you making a little bit of time out of your busy schedule. So just before we begin as the live stream, anyone in the audience, if you've got a question for PSAT, when they're at any. You can drop a comment and I can bring it up on the screen.
But for anyone that hasn't met, sat where there, he will introduce himself in just a second. And the topic today is the importance of architecture practices and academia getting involved and collaborate in together. So sat when the first of all, maybe you could tell us a little bit about yourself.
Yeah, thanks, Steven.
Um, uh, I was born in Huddersfield in 1969 to migrant Punjabi parents. I came to Sheffield to study architecture, which was a wonderful kind of, um, opportunity. I then subsequently worked for. Practices like, um, urban splash working on warehouses and refurbishment projects across the Northwest. I worked for, um, Proctor Matthews, and I came back to Sheffield to teach, uh, and I've been involved in the school for a number of years.
And more recently, um, I run the club to practice costs, which we'll talk about shortly. And I also do some work on, um, children's BBC, uh, working on the engineers, which some people may have seen. And also I do some practice work with a very good friend of mine, William Matthews. So that's been a nutshell.
That was a very, that was quite a brief overview. I skipped through that. That was the. That was
perfect. And I put a bit of eye-candy first in the background. I know it's like in section there's two sat windows on TV, but as you can see here, it's just, there's a nice trailer. Isn't there that show. And I think it's nice because you see the university work and actually, yeah, we go, we've got the Sheffield universe, the famous left as well.
Which, uh, you know, it's very interesting, but you're right. I am here. Partly. I'm interested in what you do at shepherd. Not so much the less, even though the lift is cool and you, you know, the architectural history about. We'll talk about your collaboration with practice. So I'm going to pause this video here, and I'm going to bring it back to us for a second.
So you mentioned that at the university of Sheffield, you set up a kind of a new course, and I was quite impressed with that because when I did my part to my part one and part two, I had a little module of going into industry practice. And that was interesting, but tell us all about what you're doing at the university of Sheffield
first and for.
Sure. Um, so around 2015 we realized with the introduction of the higher fee that, um, we, we were concerned that quite few students might drop out, uh, during their year out because they might have realized that it's, you know, it's quite expensive architectural education. It takes a long time. And so we thought, is there a way where we could sort of combine the world of practice with the world of academia and have a sort of where, where students can earn as they learn, uh, and also kind of capture some of the work that they do in practice.
So we set up this new course called club to practice, and essentially it's an earn as you learn type thing. And it means that students work in practice four days a week, and the fifth days for academic learning and support. When we set up the course, we kind of had about six practices on board. Now we've got 50 practices on onboard.
And I think the thing that's unique about the course is that the work that students do in practice becomes life, academic content. So we're trying to join the two worlds up, but also we realize that. You know, students perhaps quite like working in practice, it's quite nice to have a salary, quite nice to have an income.
Is there a way that rather than having to leave that and go back to a sort of standard program, was there a way of kind of joining, joining that up? So that, that's what we endeavor to do when we set it up, it was kind of interesting. Cause people were saying, well, She just going to miss out. Um, they're not in uni enough or, you know, maybe they might be behind.
And what we've realized is the experience allows students to reflect on what they do in practice, but also to become a little bit more knowing in terms of how they make design decisions, how do they balance their time and how do they engage more fully in the practice world that they're involved in?
Why is practice the way there is an innocence? Students are going from being passengers to being really actively engaged. And we found that, um, the model really does work and the reception we've had from, from students and also practices has been super helpful.
Uh, magazine. Well, let me tell you that. When, when I, this was, I did it when, before the fees went up, uh, apart to architecture and I could barely afford that.
So I was working part-time in weighed pros. Now I did enjoy the Waitrose discount. However, I would have loved to have worked in an office like ACRA library or Hawkins brown and so forth. So tell us a bit about some of the architectural practices which have kindly got on board with your scheme. Cause that sounds exciting.
Yeah. So when we, when we set up the course, we reached out to practices that we are already had a connection with such as Hawkins brown off at home, on a Morris PDP Proctor Matthews. And because we needed their support. When we were trying to navigate getting the course approved. So in the, in one year we, uh, got the course approved by, um, our department, the faculty, the university, and we also got it approved by the rib and the Abbey.
And at the same time we were recruiting. You can see on the video there there's me back in 2015, kind of doing the pitch, you know, trying to convince people that this was a valid Ru. It kind of made sense. And we kind of had to be a little bit pioneering and, you know, the students we were appealing to, we ha we were kind of asking them to take a bit of a risk.
And some people said, you know, that they're going to be Guinea pigs. And we deliberately said, no, we're going to be pioneers. And it's interesting, only yesterday, one of the first student. Who embarked on the course, Chris Jones, who works at BDP. He was in the department yesterday of doing some teaching, but we were just reminiscing about those, those very, very early years when we were trying to do something that was different because.
Architectural education hasn't really changed that much in the last 40 years. You know, the length of costs, the kinds of work that occurs. Obviously there's a nuance in terms of the types of projects that our care and the people that might deliver those projects. But wholeheartedly there hasn't been about.
Big shift and what we've done here. He made the first year of the part two very, very different, but also made it more affordable. And then students returned to Sheffield and they joined the standard program. So there's kind of variation and difference. And we think that that's been one of the unique kind of aspects of the course.
And now, you know, each year we bring on board new practices. Um, you can see there on the screen. There are initial practices that we work with, but all the time we're looking to engage with new practices, Volta reach, have a broader reach. And, um, in relationship to the cost, it doesn't matter where students live or where they work.
If they've got a place on the course, they can get to London. Maybe once every six weeks they've got an internet connection and they can be in Sheffield, maybe four to six days in the year, they can do the calls because if two students are moving around, it costs time and money. So we were kind of like, Before COVID hit.
We were kind of COVID proof when COVID didn't exist. Cause we were already doing this kind of blended kind of a learning model. And, um, it kinda, it kind of worked before. So when we went into COVID, we kind of, the, the segue into that felt quite natural, even though it was super challenging and super difficult, you know, we, we were all dealing with that situation.
Amazing. Well, there we go again. And they were running. The reforms were being maybe a bit too late for me now, but for the part ones, part twos out there thinking about it. So you should definitely check it out. So there was one or two comments that come in. So Joe bacon who's partners, Aliza Morrison, and Reba cancer says the Sheffield collaborative practice scheme is so good.
Well done. So there you go. Yeah, that's nice hearing, not just the students' perspectives, but you know, the architecture practices out there. And last one, I actually, when you were speaking, I had a comment about that set window. Have you had any feedback from the architectural practices about the, the. The experience they've had going through this, maybe there's a difference in how the student is compared to the traditional route when they come out.
Have you heard any feedback from the employees
by any chance? Yeah, that's a great question. Um, what, what we found is when, um, practices have students who are already in the practice and the student likes working there somehow they're. Would it be possible for the students stay a bit longer, but they can't because they've got to go back.
So what this model does is it allows students to stay and stay engaged is good for the practice because it means the student continues. Cause we all know the first three or four months for a part, one are super challenging, super difficult for the student because they're trying to get their bearings, the practices trying to work out.
Have we hired the right person? How's this going to work? So there's a lot of risk involved, but after that kind of initial, initial period, Um, the student becomes more engaged and more, um, solve involved and for the practice that's good. And then suddenly for the students to leave is a kind of like, oh, I was just getting into this, you know, getting into the flow so that that's a good.
The other thing on the course is that we encourage students to ask good questions about wise practice the way there is, where does the work come from? Who makes decisions about, um, the marketing of a practice? Uh, how much does it cost, um, to have a desk in the office for a year? How much does it cost to practice?
And so conversations about money, about making design decisions. We also talk about is the student an employee, or is a student I'm an ambassador and what allows them to become, uh, the latter and what collateral is given to them. So conversations around kind of, you know, quite sophisticated conversations around business, um, the aspects of business, but coming from the perspective of a student learning in real time, being surrounded by other like-minded people.
So, uh, we found that the students, you know, when they finished the program, sorry, when they get into the second year, they're much more relaxed about time management, making good decisions, being good communicators. How do you tell a good story about a project? How do you listen actively with people working around you?
So in our tutorials, we spend a lot of time thinking about that. And the feedback we've had from practices is that first of all, they're super happy that the students had a good expense. Um, they like the fact that the student has returned, but then what we're finding now is that we've got students in practices where we've got alumni who did the course who were kind of helping to mentor and support.
So over time the network becomes stronger and more positive and more productive. And now is a, is a good time to do the cost. Cause he's been going for seven years, but when we set it up, It was like, right. Well, is this going to work? People sign up, you know, there's a, there's a, there's this challenges, isn't it.
When you do something different, you do something new. There's always an element of doubt and uncertainty that will this work and will people kind of buy in and, you know, and, and I'm so grateful to be sat here now, you know, surrounded by wonderful colleagues and the support of the people we've had within the department.
I was joined by, um, Uh, a new member of staff a couple of years ago. So we were expanding the program, Sam brown, who I worked with, who helps me lead the calls. So, you know, we're in a good place. We're already, you know, we're already looking at expanding the program. And interestingly, uh, a couple of years ago, we did, uh, develop a two year model.
So students could spend both years in practice and, um, we went to the rib and new courses. Uh, we'd have the cost approved internally, but at the time, the didn't feel like it could approve the program because they felt like there was too much time in practice. So perhaps, you know, now's a moment for us to revisit that conversation with the
But I think change within the profession is absolutely fundamental because for students that's important that this child. And so students are able to navigate and work through and become the architect that they want to be, but without having, um, extra debt and for that to be a smooth, supportive process.
And I think the current model has problems as we've discussed because it's too long, too arduous and perhaps too expensive. And I, I have, you know, I have a real resonance with this in terms of my background came from a working class background. There wasn't much money floating around. So I do feel this kind of, um, I think it's super important that we acknowledge the cost and we try and have other models, but me making sure that the new models, content or kind of excellence isn't reduced because it's a different way of, of delivering Architectural.
said, I come, I completely agree. And especially having worked in recruitment and dealing with architecture practices, to me, when you saying that maybe the initial critique of the course may have been too much exposure to professional practice, that is so counterintuitive to what I know.
Whereas architectural practices. Uh, dying out for people were more and more experienced, and it's just such an advantageous quality for any Architectural Steve. And who's going after they, prior to with yourself or what not to go into an architectural practice and saying, I've not just done my part one.
I've been working in the practice for the last two years because you pick up so much. Even just being in the office. So can the end like a sponge? So I do think that with that, yeah, I would be quite surprised if that was still the same verdict now in 2022, especially when the you've seen more and more emergent stuff, following your leads, you know, like the architectural apprentice scheme is a different interpretation, but I love that it's got the same sentiment of getting people in practice and actually dealing with.
You know that student that isn't it. If you work in, then it's not just about the experience you're learning, but it's dealing with a difficult economic climate and making it more accessible for everyone because you're probably humble backgrounds as well. And it's just like you couldn't, I couldn't afford some of, to do things now.
I'd be, I'd be working in waitress. Full-time not part-time. I'd much rather do it with yourself. And while you were talking though way on one more common comment, then from Lindsey Richardson, which says, so could they see opportunities like this out there for students to really develop their needs on experience, which is so hard to get in such short time on placements.
Thank you, Lyndsey. That's great. I am. Wow. I think that's awesome. And. Just while you're here. So I'm going to bring it up one more time before we kind of move on from the topic a little bit, but people can check it out in the link as well, but I'm quite keen to know. So you set up, um, collaborative practice, but I know from what you're saying and the feedback from the students, you're a good teacher, but then also.
I mentioned that I'm going to be doing this podcast live stream whip you today from my partner who is not in architecture, who take recognize you. So if anyone's kind of doing a double take, we've got to address the elephant in the room so that when the, so I'm going to bring it up now, because this initial video, which I put on which we're going to do again, I don't mean to, uh, w w w there we go.
So this is your show. Right. Which sounds very glamorous, you know, the, tell us about if you've got to show it and people are seeing you a partner seen you, uh, how did you get into teaching and stuff through the BBC? Do you want to walk us through that part of your journey as well?
Yeah, of course. Yeah. Um, um, I feel very fortunate that, um, uh, I think, um, it was about 2016.
I got approached by the BBC and they were looking for, um, architects and designers to. Be part of a show that they, um, had just been going for one series at the time, which is called the engineers. So the engineers is a bit like grand designs for a younger demographic. Right. And the, the, the, they came across and interviewed me.
But before they came over, I was like, I don't really want to do this online. Um, I want to do, I want to work with somebody else and that's one of my big things. Always reach out to good people and work together if you've got an opportunity. And so I reached out to a friend of mine, Tony Broomhead, who's an accomplished architect and educator in his own.
Right. And I said, Tony, there's this opportunity. The BBC are interested in. You know, I was being involved somehow to design these Dan's I don't know much about it, but what do you think? And he said, yeah, yeah, I'm up for that. So the producer came over, um, never done any sort of real work in television before me and Tony sat down at a table, we just had a chat about design.
We were drawing and having a conversation and they they've, they filmed us while we were doing it. So it felt a bit. Awkward and a bit odd and I was a bit late, right? What does this mean? And, but we just, we just had a go, we just, we just did it. And then the next day the producer rang up and said, we'd love for you to do three episodes.
We want you to be, be one of the designers on the engineer. So, so very, very quickly we were sort of given briefs. So essentially the premise of the program. Children want to have a den made in their back garden. They're teamed up with a designer, were given a brief, and then we come up with ideas. Uh, the Dan is then sort of partly prefabricated in a workshop beforehand, and then we spend five days on location, building the den, and then talking about the process.
The design itself bolts or some things like engineering or sort of physics, or there's a sort of educational aspect to it. And, and for me, it's been such a wonderful experience because working in television, you realize it's about using clear language. It's about being precise. It's about, um, how do you communicate well with a broader audience?
So it ties in really nicely to, to my other work, which is essentially about making Architecture more accessible to a broader community and, and w working with, uh, with, with younger children. You know, they're so switched on. They've got so many ideas, they've got no fear. They just want to go for it. And we're just helping them along the way.
So, so we're now the, the, the show won a BAFTA last year. It's also one Royal television society awards. We're now on our six theories. We've designed dens, which you've got. Crazy themes, wonderful themes. Like, um, we've done a cricket, Dan, we've done a gingerbread house and we've done a, um, rollercoaster den.
So some of the themes are quite kind of out there and you might say, well, that's not very Architectural, but actually what's wonderful. Is that where we're engaging with a younger demographic and we're engaging with ideas that people are kind of interested in. And I think. Some architects might think, oh, that's not very serious or that's a bit too playful, but I think it's actually really at the essence of engaging with, with it, with a broader public and, and not taking ourselves too seriously.
And then on the back of the. Um, I've been developing some ideas, um, sort of for television, which are about how do we engage with a broader public and how do we communicate well through the medium of say a television or even something like this, you know, how do we tell a good story? How do we make people feel engaged and interested?
And I've found that experience from television has directly. Um, supported and being brought into my teaching and my practice work that I do with William Matthews, who was, um, recently shortlisted for the Sterling price. So there's this lovely kind of correlation between the different aspects of my work, which essentially is around how do we make good design, but how do we encourage other people to be excited and interested in that without using big words like liminal space or shadow gaps or looking lyric really serious.
Not smiling. You know, I'm not sure where that comes from in architectural culture, but I think it's sometimes getting gets in the way of people being themselves and enjoying the work that they're doing.
Um, I'm inclined to agree with you that I remember displace non place and it's interesting, but you're right.
It's, we've got to get excited. We should make it accessible in language as well. Fully you fully understand that. Look, thanks for going through that. Now I've got you here for just under 10 minutes. So I've got one or two questions, but just to remind everyone out there, this is a really good chance for you to ask a quick question, to sat with that as well while we're alive.
So as you're a team. And I, I'm gonna, I'm going to ask for some productive little tips for the next five to 10 minutes now. So if you were as Steve and so me and you were going back in time, so if me and you, and now thinking of, you know, going into architecture university of looking at your course or anything, do you have any quick tips for them at the moment in the current climate?
We're looking at courses because these tips for finding work or tips for kind of working on your project, So
I think it's more working on your current projects. Yeah, yeah,
absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And that's such a great question because I was only talking about this yesterday with some of my students here in the, in the master's.
So I run a studio in the, in the master's program, which is about intergenerational architecture, where we're trying to understand all the demographic that we're, that we're sort of designing for. And I think the moment we're in now where students are bringing, then I call it, bringing in the plan until.
Right. We want to have a smooth landing as you work towards the final aspects of your project. And I think I often say, think about what it is, where it is and how does it make you feel. When you're presenting your work, think about those three things. And then following on from that, in terms of the kinds of drawings that you might have, or the kinds of communication that you might use, I would suggest, um, tell us, always start off when you're presenting your work.
If you standing up and doing a review or a crate. Say hello, smile. Then tell us the name of the project and where it is in the world. So instantly you're communicating with your audience. There's no uncertainty about what this project is or where it might be. And then just tell a very, very simple story about, um, why are you interested in.
Why should your audience be interested in this? Um, what was the brief, what was the context? Um, tell us a little bit about the surroundings. Tell us about the site and tell us about the process of how you've brought this design to life of the last 8, 12, 16 weeks. How much time you've had. Tell us about the building of a spatial output.
What does it feel like for someone to experience your architecture and use key drawings, whether they're visuals or sketches to kind of walk someone through that journey. So when someone arrives at your project, what does it feel like? What, how are they given clues about moving around and then tell us at the end, what you've learned.
Hawaiian. This has been a really helpful exercise and what you might do with this work as you move forward to the next stage, um, on my Instagram feed and, you know, there's, there's tips, uh, about, you know, developing ideas or how do we communicate? Well, the other thing I think. Just practice what you're actually going to say in that session.
And if you say something, make sure there's an equivalent image on the screen or on the wall that you can point to, um, and, and try and connect with your audience on a human level. So talk about something that's kind of relevant to all of us, as in, how does it feel like when you drink a cup of tea in a really nice coffee shop, or how does it feel like if you're sat in a garden and the sun's hitting the side of your face, or how does it feel like if you've turned up late to a lecture.
Or a tall, can you feeling a bit anxious about that and you're working your way through, of arriving and then you feel calm in this space. So use the idea of human emotion. So if, if, if, if you watch good television, you'll notice that always taps into a human emotion, because that is a scale as a storyteller that as architects, we should turn up, tap into.
Otherwise the flip side is we just kind of go on this autopilot. Uh, hi, my name's Fred. Here's my project. We're mumbling. And we're not
thinking, yeah, it drives me insane as well. And then that's the last question then you actually make my re my role really easy. You've gone on to. I hear a lot and I want to hear this force.
So people go and how can you do a live stream? It seems so easy, but the truth is like messed up a hundred times and I'd be nervous and it slowly builds up, but you've kind of gone the next level, you know, and going on TV, I mean, that's a scare where you think like, my mother is the TPC at the TV. She's less interested in, in, in, in the incident.
Bryson. I love my mum today, but it's a different medium and some can say it's a bigger medium. So how do you build up that confidence to kind of speak in front of people because that does happen as well for students and stuff in architecture, public speaking is important. So any
tips would be wonderful.
Yeah, absolutely. Um, another great question. I think you should try to be yourself. Mm. Hmm. Yeah, you can't, you can't be anybody else. And, and people will often sense that in a room, what they, if someone's kind of either putting on an act, unless of course they're an actor they're paid to do that. That's their job.
Yeah. You've got to be yourself. Um, it helps if you, um, uh, kind of know your subject or your topic, not to be an expert, but at least you've done a little bit of homework for our sessions. Yeah. We had a pre-meeting I've looked at some of your other videos. I kind of knew what to expect. So, um, I think that's, that's good.
No, no. The space, whether it's a sort of digital or physical. I think I'm speaking slowly. It's very easy when we're stressed or anxious, we start speaking quicker and we just want it to be over and, you know, breathe. Everything's going to be fine and just take it steady. And then just again, try and connect on a human.
Yeah. And, um, uh, try and enjoy what you do. Use simple words, use simple language and practice. If you practice speaking. And sometimes, you know, like my work, um, some of the TV work, it is a bit awkward at times. It's like, there's a camera in my face and I don't feel very relaxed. And, but then w you just said self, you know what?
I think I can do this. Yeah. I'm going to be. I think, you know what I've and for students, I always say, look, you've worked really hard on this project. You've, you've given a lot of time and effort, so just try and enjoy the process. And I think if you're more relaxed yourself, the people around you become more relaxed and then you're more likely to find that opportunity or.
To spot something that otherwise wouldn't exist. Whereas if, if we're all up tight and we're all stressed and we're all like, oh my gosh, you know, people around you pick up on that vibe and then you miss that opportunity. So it's like now where we're, we're in the groove now, which is, it's just like, we're having a nice chat because I'm trying to be myself and I feel relaxed.
And then th then it kind of. It's like a little domino effect, isn't it. So I think sort of breathing, uh, tone of voice. Um, speaking slowly speaking, calmly, smiling, looking like you're enjoying yourself rather than, oh my gosh. I don't want to be here looking at the floor. They're just tactics. They're just tips that we, that we, that we practice using our practice adopting.
Um, and, but I think part of it is good. And part of it is being relaxed and knowing that if something does go wrong, it's not the end of the world. And there's always a way around that. But with experience, you just become more used to just sort of saying hello and smiling, asking people how they are when you walk into a room, try and look like you're pleased to be there because then that will rub off onto the.
Well, perfect. Well you, while we were chatting, we had a few highs. We had a few hellos. I haven't gone there for questions here, but that doesn't mean that if anyone who's watching this and he goes, ah, I wish I watched that. Or maybe they watch the recap. I'm going to bring up your. So you are on LinkedIn, you are on Oop, that's me.
Beg, here we go. You are on Instagram. You are on LinkedIn, but you've mentioned as well. A good way. People can reach out is getting in touch on Instagram. Is that
right? So that when the absolutely, you know, if anybody's, you know, um, if something's resonated from what we've discussed today, Um, you know, you can always send me a DM on, on Insta.
Um, if there's something you want to know more about the cost, cause you're interested, please just reach out and I'd be very happy to make time for a conversation. Applications are up at the moment. We're actively looking for students who want to do something a little bit different and I'd be very happy to chat to students who are interested.
And also if there's any practices who want to perhaps come on board, please reach out. But I think Instagram, I find it's a really lovely democratic tool. Because, you know, people are quite friendly on there. It's wonderful. You know, you can say, look, I really love that drawing and the girl. Yeah. Thanks so much.
And it's just a nice way of sharing. Nice way of sharing and having dialogue. And, you know, it's, it's, it's quite friendly space and obviously it's very visual. You know this idea that you can just do a quick sketch or you find something you like and you share it and you find other like-minded people and you're the other, and you find other people that you'd never would have found.
So I'm, I'm very, um, sort of, um, supportive of, of it as a tool. But I also suggest to my students that they use it as a productive tool to share work and, and find things that they're interested in. So, um, but yeah, absolutely. I'd be very happy for people to reach out. Um, you can find me on the university website as well or an Instagram drop me a message and you know, I'll be very, very happy to talk to.
Perfect. Well, I've enjoyed this. I know I may appreciate you making it a bit at a time, cause you're going to go back to teaching in a second. So anyone in Thai wants to get in touch with that winter. Uh, please do so. And thank you so much. So is that where the stay on the state for a second? Just while.
Thank you. Everyone is tuning in. We will be back probably next Wednesday, either think of something that's talked about. Otherwise it'll just be little old me. Thank you for tuning in and we will see you next time. Take care everyone. Bye bye.