Shree Baladia Leva Patel

Sarvodal (UK)

'My dad’s a builder...'
by Manish Ragwani

Choosing a career path is an exciting yet challenging part of one’s life. You ask yourself questions as to what you want to do and be in the future. I always had a fascination of building designs and construction and had always wanted to become an Architect. Visiting many different countries and looking at the architecture has always inspired me.

My grandfather formed a very successful construction company many years ago in Nairobi and is now established in many different countries including London. Having been bought up around this industry I was always interested in the building construction industry from a very young age. I remember going on site to view constructions of building and spending a lot of time in the office which I believe had a great impact on what I have become today.

The course is one of the longer courses of 7 years in all. This has put a lot of people off, however I knew what I wanted to study and did not let it put me off as I know it would all pay off in the long term.

Throughout my studies in secondary school I chose to study subjects which I thought would help me on this career path. I chose to study Business Studies, I.T, Maths and Art, all of which have become a great use to me in my further education.

Completing high school, I went straight into university to study Architecture at University of Westminster. This course is very exciting, challenging and at times very stressful as all courses can be, however it is very different to other courses as the classes are very much design base. We would have the whole academic year to design a proposal based on a brief provided by the tutors, sometimes this can challenge the traditional sense of architecture.

The great thing about this course is you get to be as creative as you want and design some weird and wonderful proposals. Besides the design modules I had to take a technical module as well as a cultural context module which allow us to broaden our knowledge of architecture.

Having completed my 3 year BA(Hons) degree receiving a 2:2, I went on to work in an architectural practice full time for a year. This was a very insightful year as I was able to gain a vast amount of knowledge and able to work on projects which I can actually see being built. This year out is a requirement in getting the architectural qualification after the seven years.

I worked for a small company specialising in luxury residential projects. Working in a small company gave me more responsibilities and having the advantage of working very closely with the architect and clients. My roles included preparing all working drawing and construction drawings, designing, attending meetings, site visits as well as dealing with subcontractors and clients.

At the end of the year I felt I was not ready to go back into architecture at university, so I decided to take a different route and do a Masters in Architecture Digital Media, which allowed me to get my creativity flowing. Whilst studying the MA I was still working part time at the practice twice a week. This course allowed me to explore different ways of design and different types of media to use in design, the course was very helpful and enjoyable and I was awarded a Merit for my design project. Towards the end of this course I felt I was ready to go back into my initial course of Architecture and continued my Part 2 studies at the same university. I am currently in my final year of the Part 2 course where I am currently designing a DDR Museum in Berlin.

When I complete this part of the course, ideally I would like to get straight back into working in practice and take my final Part 3 as soon as I can, the Part 3 is the final leg in the route to qualifying as an Architect.

Once I become a fully qualified Architect, I would like to work my way up a professional practice to gain experience before eventually joining the family construction business and take on architecture and design as a major part of the company.

Architecture as already played a major part in my life. We have had a family house build in Baladia which I was able to input my design and drawing skills. I have also been able to take on small design projects for family and friends which has been very exciting.

It seems like only yesterday I started this course and I have been studying at university for 6 years now. Time has flown by and I am looking forward to completing this course and tackling the challenges that lie ahead.