Marija Ambrasaite, architectural assistant, Aedas RHWL

Q Has the year since you started in construction lived up to expectations?

A My year in construction has certainly lived up to my expectations. From the very beginning I received much more responsibility than I expected and, although at first it seemed daunting, my experience was invaluable. My time spent at Aedas RHWL was very different from the academic world, proving to be more intriguing and much more challenging. Through the graduate scheme I was able to experience various sides of the profession from familiarising myself with architects’ roles and being encouraged to speak up for design proposals.

Q Have you achieved what you said you wanted to in the time?

A I managed to achieve the goals I had set and furthered my ambition to become an architect. I feel I am on the right track. Having had the opportunity to experience working on projects at different stages and meeting various construction industry professionals, as well as understanding the importance of working in a team of expertise and the multidisciplinary nature of the construction field, this year has built a strong base for my further studies.

Q What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your job?

A Since joining with Aedas in January of this year, which is one of the largest global architecture practices; this proved both a challenge but also opened up opportunities. In turn, this meant we started working on more projects abroad that required more research into specific cultures and climates that we might not be familiar with. Although it is a great challenge it also is a great responsibility to design sustainable developments for the local communities.

Q In your experience so far, does the industry encourage and nurture new talent?

A The competitive nature of the construction industry, and especially the architecture profession, is very challenging and demanding. Despite the fact that it is dominated by very experienced professionals, I believe that it is an ideas and hard work-driven profession as it always seeks innovation, therefore creating a positive environment for new talents to emerge.

Q What’s your view on the government appearing to backtrack on green built environment policies such as the zero carbon target, the Green Deal, and subsidies for wind farms and solar power?

A It think it is disappointing that the UK government appear to be back tracking on the sustainable agenda, just as Barack Obama and the USA want to lead the way in the developed world. However, I am very happy that the government has finally started looking at alternative energy sources. I believe that sustainable energy is the base for the sustainable life style. For example, we can choose to drive electric cars, but if electricity is gained in a non-green way it is an unsustainable way to travel. As half of the energy is used by buildings we, as professionals, should push that even further.

Q Do you sense clients are less interested in sustainability following the recent policy shifts?

A Although clients are not always familiar with sustainability policies and governmental requirements, I believe that it is an architect’s duty and responsibility to introduce them. Sustainability should be presented as a life quality increasing factor rather than a deduction of daily activities or habits. There is a clear lack of industries input in familiarising society with sustainability and its ecological, sociable and economic sides/factors.

Q Has the attitude of your firm to sustainability changed at all?

A The practice has a designated sustainability and research and development team and I would not necessarily say our attitude has changed but continues to develop and adapt to reflect the ever changing impact of globalising economies, as well as the exploding information technology capability that is now more tangible and becoming ever more cost effective. It does this while still employing passive and established principals that the practice has and continues to review and research.

Q Will you get a summer holiday? If so, where?

A Although I have been working through the majority of the summer, I had a chance to visit Copenhagen. Seeing people swimming in the harbour located right in the city centre and traffic jams of bikes rather than cars made me think London should catch up with regards to suitable urbanism.