Helen is an architect working in our Schools team. She is currently leading an SEN school project for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, in a historical mansion house in North Bristol.
Helen has a breadth of experience across many sectors, most notably running award-winning projects in the Healthcare sector. Her favourite part of the job is working with clients and end users to develop their brief, and then finding solutions that help and inspire them to live and work more happily and effectively.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be?
I would be crafting in some way – probably using found materials and objects and bringing them back to life in creative ways.
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
An office refurb project for IIED, an environmental charity/think tank in London – it was my first time leading a project. The client needed a lot of guidance as they moved out of their home of 30 years (with all the clutter that goes with it) and into a 1950s office building.
Many of the staff were academics who resisted the switch to open plan working, and so it became more than a building project. We needed to shift their attitudes to the way they worked. We visited many offices to inspire them and, together, we built the brief. It was a very challenging project but extremely rewarding with great relationships formed along the way.
What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
You can do this! Try to enjoy things more; the stressful moments will soon be in the past and you will only remember the end result and the happy clients.
Interesting fact that nobody knows about you?
I spent my honeymoon re-building in the Philippines following the devasting Typhoon of 2013. 5am starts, 39 degree heat, six days a week. It was an exhausting but highly rewarding few months.
Biggest career influence?
A lecture by Ted Cullinan when I was studying at Sheffield. The lack of arrogance and the simplification of the project he was explaining became a huge inspiration and altered my whole attitude towards the subject.
Serial – Season 1. I listened to it about four times!
What is your proudest moment?
Being awarded a National RIBA Award for the New QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City when I was working with Penoyre and Prasad Architects. I spent four+ years running this community hospital project – a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it. It was great to be recognised, but an even prouder moment was the feedback from staff and patients. One patient said “I usually hate going to hospitals, but this felt so different and such a nice, calm place to be! I want to go again!”
- RIBA National Award, New QEII Hospital, 2016