Saturday , 22 October 2016

What do you need to be a great architect?

I believe being good at something is a combination of qualities and actions. Let me explain. You may have the right qualities to be a good sprinter for example, the right physique etc, but if you don’t train, eat right, look after your body then you will never make that 100m final in the world championships.

By the same token, you may not naturally have the the right qualities to be good at something, but its the actions you take that will help you to succeed. Whether that is learning new skills, improving existing skills, creating opportunities and so on.

So here we are going to look at the qualities that are beneficial for you to have should you wish to be an architect/architectural technologist/technician or work in the architectural field. We will then look at the actions you should take to make sure you are successful!

What is success to you? Making a difference to peoples lives? Money? Recognition? Work out what is important to you in order to make sure you reach your goals.

Qualities and Actions


Here are some of the qualities that are valuable if you are to become a great architect. I don’t think anyone possesses them all – so never fear, your skill set can be honed and built upon. The most important thing is first on this list:


If you can be excited and willing to get out of bed in the morning to be an architect and happy to put in the hours and hours of hard work then you are off to a good start. You will become a person that thinks about architecture all day everyday, as it dominates your mind. If this is something you already feel, then you are in a good place, and work won’t seem like work at all!

Creativity and passion for design 

If design gives you a real buzz and you love to get creative then architecture is a great field for you. Tie that in with some of the skills below you will smash it as an architect!

Problem solver

Working in architecture is a constant puzzle. You must be able to identify a problem (preferably before it arises) and find a suitable solution to address the problem. A problem solver with a curious mind – questions everything… how can this be improved, how will this work, how does this go together…?

Persistance and perseverance

In order to become fully qualified there are a few dull moments that you have to go through! The architect has such a varied task list, sometimes you can get stuck doing something that does’t float your boat. Don’t worry, persevere and of all the different roles you could end up doing, you will most certainly find an area that you enjoy.

Be patient – it takes a long time to learn this trade – and you never really know it all. The benefit of this is that if you keep on learning all the different factors of an architects role, you shouldn’t really get bored, and amongst it all you will find the part you love.


I consider it to be really important for architects to know the information they need, and have the initiative to go and find it. When you reach a stumbling block, instead of just giving up it is important to be able to find the resources you need to solve the problems you face.

Technical knowledge

An enthusiasm for the technical side of things is an advantage. A bit of maths, physics and IT will help – as architecture is not just about design. Implementation of your design and ideas in order to make something that produces functional design solutions and can actually be built requires technical ability.

Communication – and listening…and persuasion

You are going to be working with clients from different background with different goals and requirements and you have be able to communicate with the client effectively. You will need to be able to listen and understand what your client needs, and often put those needs before your personal tastes, or be able to integrate the two together.

There is a lot of negotiation in architecture, whether you are persuading your client that your design is suitable for their needs or communicating with planners who don’t want to approve your proposal. Either way, it is important to have good people skills to get the job done.

If you don’t have all these qualities there are always actions you can take to improve your ability to become a great architect.


Immerse yourself in architecture

We are lucky these days. Architecture is everywhere. Not only are we surrounded by it everyday, it has exploded on the internet. There are many websites dedicated to beautiful architecture – soak it up, fill your mind with ideas.

Surround yourself with inspiring people. If you are constantly inspired by the people around you – they will bring out the best in you. This may be at university, at work or in your personal life. There is a saying that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with…. think about that.

Work hard – simple

The more time you invest in yourself, in improving your abilities the more it will pay off. You have to work hard to get results and by doing so you increase your chances of achieving the goals you have set for yourself.


Its important to get to know people. All sorts of people. Networking is all about making connections and building mutually beneficial relationships. Whether this is in education or during your career, don’t underestimate the importance of ‘who you know’.

Learn to be a team player 

Get used to working with people, its the nature of the industry.

Realise that you never know it all – you are always a student.

Find somewhere good to work

Sounds easy. Well, its important to be in a working environment that suits you, and that is going to help you develop. By working at a practice where you feel comfortable to achieve your goals, you will be providing your best for your employers and hopefully they will provide for you. You will spend five days a week, 48 (ish) weeks of the year at work – that is a lot of time. So make sure it is the place for you.

Jump in feet first

There are so many times when you can shy away from responsibility for fear of making a mistake. By jumping into things and stepping up to the plate you will challenge yourself and make yourself improve. You will make mistakes, we all do – just make sure you learn from them.

Be observant

Observing people and how they move through, use and interact with buildings will give you a better basis for your designs.

These are some (and most certainly not all) the qualities, skills and actions that make for a great architect. The field of architecture is an exciting one, and I feel lucky to have found it – I whole heartedly enjoy working in architecture, and to be able to say you love your job is a rare and fortunate thing.

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