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We are delighted to announce that Natalie has become an architect! We are beyond proud of her, and are so excited about the positive impacts that she will bring as an architect.

Natalie started her architecture studies in 2013 at Birmingham School of Architecture, and had experience working with Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios and The Space Studio. In her third year, Natalie was introduced to a community group in Water Orton:

 

“…listening to the residents’ stories first hand sparked my imagination more than any other point in my education. I appreciate the value of precedent studies and visiting buildings, but listening to people’s problems and knowing our education stands us in good stead to think of design solutions which may alleviate issues, really ignited my drive for design.”

Natalie took it upon herself to curate a pop-up exhibition that travelled around Water Orton and was even invited to visit the residents’ homes to discuss the history of Water Orton. She graduated with First Class Honours and the Niyaa People Award for working with communities.

 

Natalie moved to London for her Part 1 placement, doing spatial planning, elevation and landscaping designs for apartments with HTA Design. There, she volunteered at the Open City festival, which strives to make architecture accessible to children from under-represented backgrounds. She also co-constructed gingerbread architecture as part of Gingerbread City to engage the public with architecture through imagination!

Natalie returned to Birmingham for her Masters studies, and was determined to further her research into community engagement. We first met Natalie when she interviewed APEC for her Masters dissertation ‘The Art of Engagement’. She and a group of students from Birmingham School of Architecture and Design also collaborated with us as part of their module ‘Clients + Users, Consultation + Engagement’. They joined us in engaging with primary school pupils as part of an extension project.

“It was during this time I met the APEC Architects team, and learned about their practice, values, and ways of working. I was blown away with their approach and for the first time felt hopeful to find a practice who value and undertake genuine engagement; from this experience I gained a new sense of purpose within the profession. I knew at this point I would love dearly to work for APEC in the future.”

Natalie received a distinction for her Masters, her final design project exploring affordable self build house boats on the canals of Birmingham. She was awarded the HOK Award for Innovation in Architecture, and the Peter Broad Memorial Award. Afterwards, Natalie gained experience at Khoury Architects and Corstorphine + Wright, working on residential projects, before joining the APEC team in 2020. Natalie joined us during lockdown, but she immediately became an integral member of our team.

Since then, Natalie has brought her skills and talents to several APEC projects. She has pushed our learning and development around community engagement for several feasibility studies community buildings, from interactive sessions on Miro, to chatting to locals at festivals, to running design workshops, and even taking part while isolating by being wheeled around on an ipad! Her creativity and compassion have helped us reach and develop relationships with communities to ensure they can participate in projects from the very beginning and through the whole process.

Natalie’s conscientious and professional attention to detail has been pivotal in the delivery of Telford Minster and Christ Church School. Her infectious friendliness and generosity has had a positive impact on design and construction teams, as well as the APEC team. Natalie’s enthusiasm has led to our annual newsletters, how we reach out on social media, and how we share learning in practice. We can’t wait to see the long term effects of her care and creativity as an architect.