There are two directors in the practice and four trainees. At the moment we are working on five projects, most of them worth around £1.5m. The practice also does consultancy work, particularly training within the context of regeneration. Clients include churches, community groups and private individuals. At the beginning of a project I spend lots of time with the client – to make them feel loved. After that I minimise the time I'm with them. Many of the buildings we design are in West Africa and are commissioned by people based in the USA or UK. It can be difficult because sometimes we have to work just from photos of the sites, which aren't taken with the architects' needs in mind.
What does your job involve?
I brief clients, draft designs and liaise with planners. More than 60% of my time is taken up by draft drawing. The projects I work on are mainly loft conversions, extensions to private homes and community buildings. I have to attend lots of meetings with people like QSs and planners after a project has gone to tender. I used to bulldoze these people to try to get my ideas through, but now I realise that wasn't the best strategy.
What hours do you work?
A lot of voluntary overtime. It's definitely not a nine-to-five job. But I like to avoid taking work home and keep evenings for myself. I update my portfolio, read a lot, but don't get out enough.
Do you have a lunch break and do you take your holiday entitlement?
If I'm pressed I'll eat as I go, but it is good to go out sometimes. I take my holidays and have just come back from a trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Often it's time out that I need rather than a two-week holiday. A long weekend to recharge my batteries does wonders and the company is very good about this.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Seeing ideas come together and my ideas work without any corners cut. Actually seeing the finished building is the best thing. The thought that I created it goes a long, long way.
I used to bulldoze these people to try to get my ideas through, but now I realise that wasn’t the best strategy
What frustrates you about your job?
The hours, the pay . . . I feel I should get at least £10 an hour or about £22,000 a year. I would like a more stimulating workplace to help me in my creative work. Plants, pictures, that sort of thing. Ideally, I would surround myself with art.
How do you handle stress?
I've learned that there is a way to lose your cool.
I try to take the emotion out of any complaint I have, especially considering that everyone I work with is male. If I talk to them from an emotional point of view, they don't understand me. So I separate it; this is what I think, this is how I feel. The two aren't always the same.
Job Trainee architect with Knak Design
Other jobs Trainee with Mayet Architects in Johannesburg
Qualifications Part I exams and a BA in architecture from Cape Town University
Lives Enfield, north London
Salary Less than £20,000