Architecture involves the design, planning, and support in construction of buildings and spaces.
There are several career opportunities available in the Gibraltar/UK architecture sector, including:
- Architect: Responsible for designing buildings and overseeing their construction. Architects usually work in architectural practices but often also directly for developers or contractors.
- Architectural technologist: Focuses on the technical aspects of building design, including construction details and building materials.
- Interior designer: Specialises in the interior design of buildings, including layout, furniture, and finishes.
- Landscape architect: Designs outdoor spaces, such as parks and public areas.
Architecture is very rewarding because it has the possibility to have a far-reaching positive effect on a vast number of people. We constantly inhabit and use buildings and spaces so to be able to help sculpt how those spaces and places will function and feel is very exciting. The way we design spaces will have a big influence on how people feel for example, feeling focussed in a place of work or school, active in a gym, relaxed in a café, spiritual in a place of worship, safe in a counsellor’s office, and cosy in a bedroom. These and many other buildings and spaces contribute to the very fabric of everyday life and how we feel and behave in them are directly influenced by their architecture. Architects get to bring their ideas to life and see them realised in physical form. We believe we can positively influence all these experiences with good architecture.
To succeed in the architecture sector, important skills and qualities include:
- Creativity: Architects need to be able to come up with innovative solutions to design problems.
- Communication skills: Architects need to be able to communicate their ideas effectively to clients, contractors, and other stakeholders.
- Technical knowledge: Architects need to have a strong understanding of building materials, construction techniques, and building regulations.
- Mathematical problem solving: There is also a fair bit of geometry and maths as for example distances are important for fire regulations and this needs to work with the overall design. Additionally developers will be looking to meet certain targets of square metres – this also needs to work with the chosen design.
- Collaboration: Architects work as part of a team, so the ability to work well with others is essential.
The demand for architects and other design professionals in the Gibraltar architecture sector is typically tied to the state of the economy and construction industry. Presently the market is experiencing a boom where we can all see a lot of construction happening all over Gibraltar! However, there is generally a steady demand for architects. With an increasing focus on sustainability, there may be a growing need for architects with expertise in these areas.
Salaries in the architecture sector can vary depending on experience, location, and type of employer. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the median salary for a newly qualified architect in the UK is around £32k per year up to more senior positions of £70k+. This is similar in Gibraltar.
There are several pathways for young people wanting to join the architecture sector in the UK. Generally it takes a minimum of seven years to be fully qualified. Most pathways will include a degree in architecture to start off with. Following this some will choose to continue along the university route which includes a further two years at university together with at least two years of work experience in between. Following the first-degree others may prefer to pursue vocational training programs to gain more hands-on experience while completing their professional qualifications. Along both pathways most start out in support roles like architectural assistants and work their way up through on-the-job experience.
Advice for a young person wanting to join the architecture sector would be to start to become very aware of the built environment around them and gain a critical and observant. We mentioned earlier that we experience buildings and spaces in almost every minute of our lives so start to question what works and what doesn’t and how spaces make you feel and behave.
Secondly would be to focus on developing strong design and technical skills, whether through work experience, university or vocational training. Networking and gaining real-world experience through work-experience can also be invaluable in getting started.
Additionally, staying up to date with the latest trends and technologies in the sector such as software, as well as being adaptable and open to learning new skills, can help individuals succeed and thrive in this exciting industry.