Thinking about becoming an Architectural Technician? Jake explains why it’s a great career choice!
For any budding architectural technicians or technologists out there, find out what it’s really like working as part of our growing architecture team.
Jake Snooks is a Junior Architectural Technician in our Bedford office. He joined Woods Hardwick in October 2020, and over the last 10 months has been busy supporting our Residential Architecture team.
What did you study at school and university?
After being relieved of the delusion I may be become a professional footballer, I actually chose my A-levels after an ‘inspiring’ chat with an Architect at a careers evening at school. This stems from previously having an eye on the built environment and construction. After doing some research, my ability in maths soon developed into an interest in the finance world. Having a way with numbers, it seemed fitting that this could be the appropriate career path. With this in mind I began studying a Business and Management degree at De Montfort University in Leicester. The broad nature of the course meant that I had some flexibility in what I was learning and could apply this to many roles, should my indecisiveness surface – everything from project management to crunching numbers in finance!
What sparked your love of architecture?
My course included a one-year placement in an industry of my choice. I began seeking positions, many of them with blue-chip companies, with the intention of getting onboard with a graduate programme. But I also wanted to consider relatively smaller, local firms who might be able to encourage my career development more effectively.
I started my internship with Woods Hardwick in October 2018 and following my graduation, Woods Hardwick took me on as a Junior Architectural Technician in October 2020, recognising my strengths and appetite to learn on the job! Having a strong construction background in my family alongside the relevant attributes, I appear to have had the foundation to start something unexpected – unexpected due to the level of experience I appear to lack, albeit resorting back to my original plans following that inspiring chat with an architect!
After returning to university and finishing my degree, I was offered a graduate position at Woods Hardwick. Now I can really see myself continuing with the same enthusiasm I started with and can’t wait to see what the future holds here.
What type of projects you get involved in?
Working in the development consultancy team, I assist the design of unique residential schemes all at different stages of the planning process. While our focus is primarily larger developments, I have also worked on smaller, complex schemes, each at multiple areas of detail. At the pre-planning stage it’s important to be compliant but also creative.
Any stand out projects?
A big project for me was the recently approved, 153 unit modular-housing scheme for Legal and General Modular Homes in Kent. It features a complex woodland surrounding that had to be incorporated in the design development. Although the majority of sites are unique, this stands out due to the revolutionary nature of modern construction techniques that will be used; a great opportunity for a new and efficient way of building a sustainable, contemporary community. Read more about this project here.
What changes have you noticed in the last few years in terms of residential developments design?
There’s certainly a greater focus on sustainability, covering the social, economic and environmental consequences of residential design. A far reaching outlook is needed when producing effective designs, literally and metaphorically. It’s not just about looking at the immediate area but also the wider picture. We have to future-proof schemes to respond to technological advances and changes in society. There is also an increased focus on the movement of people, encouraging the use of walking and cycling. How a building is designed and its layout can benefit to all walks of life, with pedestrians the priority (no pun intended!).
What do you enjoy about working at Woods Hardwick?
The people and welcoming nature of everybody makes the working environment so enjoyable. It’s a little bit of a cliché but every day is really a school day. This is helped by the support network that is moulded into the culture of the business.
Colleagues have always been approachable when needing assistance and with this they also bring an enthusiastic way of teaching. At the same time it’s also good to laugh with others about their long-suffering football teams!
The array of social events we have (albeit not so much over the past few months) has led to a great relationship with everyone! It’s especially enjoyable being able to share my unappealing competitiveness and terrible golfing ability… but ultimately it’s all good fun.
What has it been like during lockdown?
Although having a head start in meeting my colleagues face-to-face during my internship, it took a week or two to adapt to the new arrangements at home! I was surprised how well technology supported home-working. Woods Hardwick provided the necessary office essentials to make life at home easier. Although missing the social aspect of the office, working at home as helped pick up new channels of initiative when working which benefits learning on the job. On this note, I’ve been grateful to be able to adapt and continue work during the pandemic but the office reopens on Monday 16 August – and I can’t wait to get back in.
What would you recommend to any budding architectural technicians? How do they make themselves stand out?
While I’m no career advisor and still relatively new to the industry, the things I personally believe in are:
- Be a team player! Be engaged and get involved.
- Use your initiative and don’t just follow the ‘script’
- Work hard and be openly flexible with your working hours.
- Don’t fall into routine and make sure to apply different techniques to individual projects.
- Research the ever-changing policies that impact your design work.
- Get involved with additional resources and networks, for example the Urban Design Group.
What’s next for you?
In September I will start studying for a Masters in Urban Design & Planning at University College London. I can now really focus on a subject that has (so far) been exciting for me in practice. This will open my mind and knowledge base even more at a great institution.
I will be taking advantage of the opportunity to study part-time, on day-release, so that I can combine my studies with further professional experience at Woods Hardwick. This is really important for me as practical application is very different to academic learning.
I’m humbled to have been accepted onto this course. The team at Woods Hardwick has supported me in finding a career path that I once never knew existed. They have given me the chance to develop on a personal and professional level, and for that I am truly grateful and can’t wait to see how my career develops with their support.
We are currently recruiting for a Senior Architectural Technician/Technologist. To find out more, visit our Careers page.