Cristina Cărcănescu

"Architecture school offers us a vast amount of knowledge and skills which are translatable towards many other careers"

CompanyProctor & Matthews ArchitectsLocationLondonSizeMediumCourse BA ArchitecturePositionPart 1 Architectural Assistant

About Proctor & Matthews Architects

Proctor and Matthews Architects is a medium-sized practice, comprising of experienced architects, as well as young professionals, designing and delivering award winning projects. Their extensive portfolio of completed work combines a regard for historical contexts and cultural identities with the need to create socially and environmentally responsive architecture. Current work includes residential neighbourhoods, urban mixed use regeneration projects, national and international visitor attractions and a series of educational and community initiatives.

What are the best things about working in this type of practice?

You have the benefit of working in a dynamic practice, with hierarchical delimitation blurred, where everyone is equally involved and focused; where the risk of being pigeon-holed in one task is low. At the same time, you get to see a wide variety of projects, of different scales, being undertaken in the office, from masterplanning to furniture factories, or glamping projects.

What type and stage of projects have you been working on and what are your main roles and responsibilities?

I have been working on a detail planning application for a 147-units in Mountfield, Canterbury, and a later living development in Cheltenham, thus acquiring experience from Stage 1-4 of the RIBA Plan of Work. Having worked with the project architect directly, I have been entrusted with tasks and responsibilities above my level. These have ranged from coordinating drawings with the Structural Engineers, participating in design team and M&E coordination meetings, inquiring and arranging workshops with product suppliers, assisting the effective integration of the new members of the team, to liaising with our external BIM manager, whilst embarking on a steep learning curve on modelling and managing the Revit model.

What knowledge, skills or values developed at SSoA have you brought into practice?

During my time at the SSoA, the studio culture, peer learning and individual research have had a great impact on my development. Here, I learnt that innovative ideas and solutions stem from collaboration with your colleagues, tutors or visiting professors. Advancement only results from questioning and challenging ideas, since no one ever has all the answers. I believe that team-working skills, eagerness for research, the ability to find self-motivation and the capability of perceiving architecture as a holistic system are very much relevant in an architectural office.

What knowledge, skills or values have you acquired or developed during your time in practice?

The year in practice benefited me through hands-on experience with BIM and reiterated the need for flexibility, openness and collaboration in order to gain full control of the design process, whilst understanding the practice’s ethos and emulating and integrating its values in the produced work. I believe that the wide experience spectrum acquired during my time at Proctor and Matthews Architects has translated into excellent time management, quick adaptability to work in a fast-paced environment, leadership capabilities and the ability to actively listen, negotiate and challenge the status-quo.

Is practice what you expected? Describe any surprises or challenges that you’ve encountered.

Having previously worked in two architectural practices during the summer holidays as a student intern, I was aware of the architectural practice and held no preconception at the start of my Year Out. However, each practice is different and even the experience within the same office might differ from person to person.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Coming from a theoretical background based on formal sciences has shaped me into being methodical and analytical. As I move towards the later stages of the project, I realise that problem-solving, finding strategies suitable for bespoke situations, as well as understanding how things come together and are phased keep me interested in pursuing this career path.

Where do you see yourself in future?

I imagine myself as a practitioner integrating theoretical and academic interests with design and construction praxis.

What top tips would you offer architecture students who are applying for Year in Practice placements?

I advise them to be experimental, enthusiastic, innovative and confident. Architecture school offers us a vast amount of knowledge and skills which are translatable towards many other careers. As Dr. Seuss said “If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good” (T. S. Geisel)

What top tips would you offer architecture students who are about to begin a Year in Practice placement?

Further to my previous advice, I would recommend students whom are about to embark on their Year Out to be inquisitive and see the Year in Practice as an additional opportunity to learn from within the practice as well as outside it, be it from lectures, exhibitions, workshops, etc.