People Profile: Architect Angharad Jones on making her design mark at international passenger hubs

Since joining Chapman Taylor in 2016, Architect Angharad Jones has worked with our Transportation team on a variety of aviation, railway and industrial projects. She has experience of working in both the UK and abroad, from commercial masterplanning and concept design through to detail design and delivery. In this profile, Angharad tells us about her creative family background, the versatility required in her role and the importance of architects as guardians of the client’s design vision.

Tell us about your background and why you chose architecture as a career

I grew up in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and inspirational people. My late grandfather was an architect and had his own firm in Pembrokeshire, with which my uncle also worked (my uncle currently practices as an architect with Overland Partners in Texas, where he now lives with his family). That is where my passion for architecture stems from – I am in the third generation of architects in my family! I watched my grandfather sit and sketch, and the subsequent realisation of those sketches – it was fascinating to see them come to life. My dad is a builder and developer, which gave me an insight into the detail and construction side of the development process, while my mum and my sister are both art teachers – so there is creativity in my veins!

After school, I came to London to study Architecture at Kingston University, which has an ethos of ‘thinking through making’ – I loved the combination of theory and practical application which my studies involved. After my undergraduate degree, I took a year out to work at my uncle’s practice (Overland Partners) in San Antonio, Texas. I worked on a number of masterplans for China, but my main focus was a large ranch house on an estate in Athens, Texas – this was where I really learned how to use Revit as a tool throughout all work stages.

The client didnt hold back on projects budget – in addition to the extremely large main house, we created a series of houses for each of the client’s sons, two guest houses a pool house, a boathouse, all beautifully connected through clever landscaping. It was a very interesting project on which I learned a lot – we took it all the way through to Construction Documents stage before I returned to study for my Master’s degree at Kingston. I qualified with my Part III in September 2018.

When and why did you come to work at Chapman Taylor?

I started at Chapman Taylor in 2016. I knew someone who was already working at Chapman Taylor, because we both studied at Kingston, and he let me know that the company was hiring. I had little time to prepare and I was only able to bring my portfolio of work to the interview on the day itself, lent to me by the university for that day, so I was told during the interview: ‘OK then, sell yourself!’ I saw then that they meant business! I subsequently started work in the Transportation team, where I still work today.

Chapman Taylor has been working regularly at St Pancras for 15 years

Tell us about your earliest projects at Chapman Taylor

The first project I worked on was at St Pancras International railway station here in London, where I worked with the Transportation team to produce presentations for HS1 on possible pinch-point solutions (Chapman Taylor has been working regularly at St Pancras for 15 years). I then worked on a redevelopment project at Battersea Arches, where we were tasked with improving the commercial opportunities in the area as well as upgrading the public realm.

After that, I started work on Jersey Airport, with which I have been involved ever since. I have become one of the main points of contact for the Jersey project because, alongside the team, I built the initial BIM model and have been BIM Coordinator throughout – initially, when it was a design for a new arrivals building, and subsequently, when the focus was changed to a feasibility study for a combined arrivals and departures terminal.

Jersey airport which is due to start on site in 2019.

So Jersey Airport has been a major focus of yours?

Yes – along with (Architectural Assistant) Anuj Shishoda and Project Leader Matthew Barbour, we delivered Stage 2 of the combined arrivals and departures terminal design, before delivering stages 3 and 4 alongside (Architectural Technician) John Galvin. The design is now with the Contractor and we hope to see the project on site soon.

While this has been ongoing, I have been involved in a whole range of other projects – there are so many that the whole team is expected to be flexible and to be able to switch focus to meet deadlines. I will usually work on one or two main projects on an ongoing basis, but will often be asked to work on other projects for shorter periods in the meantime. In this way, I worked on a design up to Stage 3 for a synthetic diamond factory in Oregon, USA, which was very interesting, as well as on a feasibility study for the dnata City East air cargo warehouse at Heathrow Airport, which is now under construction – it’s really nice to see that feasibility study now being translated into reality. I have also worked on the retail masterplan for Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai and on the masterplan for Grozny Airport in Russia.

Grozny Airport

What do you like about working in the Transportation team?

I like that no two weeks are the same – there is always something new to do. I never know, when I arrive for work on a Monday morning, whether I will be working on the same project that week as the previous week. You have to be versatile and ready to pull together as a team to meet team goals. The Transportation team is something akin to a boutique practice within the wider company, because we have so many projects and our own dynamic. The team is very close, and I like getting to work on very different projects at all stages of the design process alongside everyone else.

I enjoy getting into the mindsets of passengers on their journeys – what they see, touch, smell and hear at each stage. (UK Transportation Director) Peter Farmer taught me a valuable lesson: that passenger experience is what my job is ultimately all about – looking at ways to reduce their stress and make their journey easier and more intuitive. One of the most important traits I have acquired at Chapman Taylor is the ability to keep looking, to observe everything going on around me in detail.

I particularly like being able to work at some of the world’s busiest transport hubs right here in London – that offers opportunities for a wide range of experiences that would be hard to find elsewhere. Being able to work in operationally live environments used by tens of thousands of people every day is both exciting and challenging, and it is great to be able to see your own mark made on those places.

Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently working on the fit-out for a large luxury catering company near Heathrow Airport. It’s very interesting work – the facility is to become the firm’s new flagship in London, with emphasis on the company’s high-quality ethos, so everything is high-specification. It is a very fast-paced project, and the base build is on site already.

I’m also helping to procure CGIs and exhibits for business development purposes, as we look to expand our operations further across the UK and Europe. The Transportation team has grown considerably in size since I started here, and we are now expanding to have a permanent presence in our other UK studios and to create more work in the north and west of the UK, as well as consolidating our position internationally.

What advice would you give to today’s architectural students?

Be prepared for a long, challenging but exciting journey! The requirement to wear ‘many hats’ in the industry, such as those of a structural engineer, a quantity surveyor, a researcher and an artist contractor – the list goes on – means that you not only become an expert in the field of architecture, but also have a vast knowledge of other disciplines. For me, becoming an architect was not only a career choice but a lifestyle one too!

The role of the architect is changing, and it is important that clients and others continue to regard architects as guardians of the creative vision. Some wrongly believe that architects are not necessary, and that they can just hand a sketch of their ideas to a contractor – that’s both a false economy and a recipe for future problems. We have to persuade them that we alone have the experience and expertise to realise their wishes in a high-quality, attractive and commercially sensible way.

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