Clare Nash

Part 2 Architecture (IARD), MA (IARD)

Before you came to Brookes what did you study and where?

Art and Design Diploma Banbury College, Interior Architecture BA (hons) at UWIC in Cardiff, obtained ARB part 1 exemption prior to starting Part 2 at Brookes.

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

At the time it was no.2 for architecture in the UK. I also managed to get a job in Oxford so it seemed perfect.

What do/did you think of the course while studying here?

I thought it was excellent, it really broadened my mind, particularly about sustainable technologies and vernacular architecture the latter of which I knew nothing about prior to coming to Brookes.

What are the best bits of studying at Brookes?

The sustainable construction workshops where we learnt first hand how to thatch, build a cob wall about green roofs and rammed earth. Also very relevant to conservation. There is a lot of energy in the school of architecture which I really fed from. It made me absolutely certain I wanted to be an architect.

What advice do you have for others?

Make the most of the extra-curricular activities on offer (eg the sustainable construction workshops), they will never be free again and you will really benefit by the extra knowledge that you can feed into your work.

After graduating from Brookes what were the next steps for your career and where are you working now?

I went back to working full time at ADP a multi-disciplinary architecture practice in Oxford. While working there I completed my Part 3 at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. Because I studied part time and worked full and part time throughout my Part 2 at Brookes I was able to go straight through to Part 3 which saved time.

Then unfortunately due to the recession ADP was making redundancies and asked if anyone wanted to take a sabbatical (as it meant they wouldn't have to be paid while they were away). I really wanted to go abroad and complete research for my masters dissertation proposal so took the opportunity, knowing there was a risk of redundancy on return. I travelled for 6 months to South America, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and China and interviewed residents and designers of housing forming my case studies. I then returned and unfortunately the economic situation had not improved and I was made redundant.

I applied to lots of practices on spec, received 2 interviews but unfortunately lost out to another applicant in both cases. I bumped into Charlie Luxton (currently on 'Building the Dream' on Channel 4) on the train who offered me some freelance work. That led to me also finding freelance work with some other practices and eventually forming Clare Nash Architecture. Despite the recession this is going well and I have some interesting projects coming in, especially in my specialty subject, sustainable design and eco-refurbishment.

What achievements are you most proud of since graduating?

My masters and setting up my own practice. However without the really good experience I got on a wide range of projects at ADP this would have been far more challenging.

How has the course you studied at Oxford Brookes helped you in your career?

Good time management! Being able to work alone and with others is essential for what I do now. I mostly work from home and I am very self-motivated, something I really got to be good at while studying at Brookes. Studying part time while working is difficult and time has to be managed acutely. This has been invaluable for how I work today. Presentation skills and writing skills as well as good graphics are all really useful business skills that I learnt at Brookes. The tuition I received took my understanding of architecture to another level, without this I feel my work would be rather flat today.

Are you involved with Oxford Brookes currently?

I recently gave a talk to current IARD masters students about my masters 'learning from vernacular technologies in modern sustainable housing design'.

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

It is really useful to share experiences in the working world. Many of my ex-student colleagues have gone on to do some really interesting things, which is inspiring.

Postgraduate profile

Name

Clare Nash

Course

MA International Architectural Regeneration and Development

Years of study

2006 - 2012 (Part-time)

Country

United Kingdom

Current job

Freelance Architect

I thought [the course] was excellent, it really broadened my mind, particularly about sustainable technologies and vernacular architecture.