Say hello to… Jo

Tell us what you do

I’m an Architect. I wanted for years to be able to answer this question with a single word, but as it’s a protected professional title it takes until you are fully qualified to be able to do this. That’s it. I’m an Architect.

As to what I do it’s so varied – I might be commissioning the faithful digital reproduction of a long hidden wallpaper design; trawling through archive photos for clues on the historic development of a building; or grubbing around in a muddy hole for one reason or another. Often it’s reconciling the integration of new technology into existing historic fabric with the minimal of disruption. Sometimes it might appear like I’m just staring at old walls but trust me, there’s a lot of thinking going on…

What sparked your interest in architecture?

From an early age, family outings would be to National Trust properties, particularly Robert Adams Culzean Castle on the west coast of Scotland. Here began a fascination with historic buildings, a respect for those who created them and a deep love of nature and playing outdoors.

Years later, as an outdoor instructor in the north of Scotland (and after working on construction projects in the Himalayas), I broke my hand and foot at the same time. It was then that I committed myself to Architecture as a less physically risky career option which would continue to feed both my creative, curious side and active nature.

My architectural journey continues the themes of history, nature and generally ‘making things better’. I am now fortunate enough to be involved in both low-impact conservation work as well as community-focussed projects with an emphasis on customised self-build and sustainable design.

Is there an area of your role that you are particularly passionate about?

In a world of increasing technology, the traditional crafts are often overlooked. Fortunately, there are a swath of incredibly talented individuals across the country who are keeping the skills alive and creating contemporary masterpieces, be it in stained glass, sign-writing, embroidery, stonemasonry, carpentry, thatch, glass etc. As an architect I seek out opportunities for the application of these skills in both repair and contemporary additions and therefore propagate the traditional craft industries. When dealing with historic buildings their longevity and status warrant striving for the very best.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

“Take a look at the SPAB Scholarship.” The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings have the most unique training for young professionals interested in traditional crafts and building conservation. A nine-month road-trip visiting the most incredible buildings in the UK combined with intense theory, practical training, days on the tools, self-directed study and meeting a host of utterly wonderful human beings all over the country is, in my opinion, unrivalled by any other educational experience.