Rachel specialises in education projects. Also a keen baker, she’s in her element when architecture and cake collide (see our entry to the Gingerbread City).
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be?
At home I love to bake cakes and sweet treats, so maybe I’d own a bakery or cake shop. I used to joke that my ideal job would be to own an ice cream van. I’m from Cornwall originally so love being by the sea; with my van I could visit beaches every day with my home made ice cream!
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
My favourite project is my first project as a newly qualified architect at my previous practice. It was a large redevelopment of a primary school in Torquay. I worked on it from stage 0 to completion – it was so lovely to see my original design come to life, and it stayed true to the original design intent, which doesn’t often happen! Witnessing the difference the new building and refurbishment made to the school, teachers and the children, was so rewarding and made me appreciate the difference that architects can make to the lives of others.
What are the key challenges that affect your sector, or are likely to in the next five years?
Within the education sector, funding and future proofing is always going to be a challenge. Education buildings need to last a long time, so we have to design them to be as flexible as possible to cope with potential changes in numbers, changes in pedagogies, and future changes to curriculums. This was demonstrated clearly when we undertook a recent research project where we studied schools built in the 50s, 60s and 70s which are still in operation today. Flexibility is key to ensuring our current and new building stock can be adaptable and resilient to change without having to do demolish and rebuild.
Best book you’ve read?
I love reading, it’s like an escapism for me. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I recently read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson which was absolutely captivating. Without giving anything away, it’s about what happens to humanity when the moon breaks up into seven pieces, I was so engrossed in it, I kept looking up at the moon to check it was still there. If someone makes this into a film, it would be epic!
Tell us about a recent achievement?
Last summer, I did a Triathlon for the first time. I hadn’t been on a bicycle since I was a teenager, and I’d never swum in open water before – I was terrified and hadn’t done much preparation. The feeling after completing it was amazing. Just goes to show, you can do anything if you put your mind to it!
- NLA Awards 2020, 2021 and 2022 – Expert Assessor for the Learning category