Reflections in Practice

At DKA we have an established culture of welcoming students on placement as a key part of our team. Back in August we welcomed Nicki Maclean, a graduate from Bath University, and Harry Kemp, at graduate from UWE, into our studio. Time has flown and as we near the end of 2022 (!) we asked them to reflect back on their first few months in architectural practice.

What have they learnt?

What would they change?

What do they want to achieve next?

Harry says:

I joined DKA 3 months ago after completing my part 1 architecture and planning degree at UWE. It was quite daunting having been a student for so long to then put what I had learnt into practice, but the people have honestly been welcoming and informative. The office environment is social, everyone is very approachable which is useful when you first come into a company and have to ask even the simplest of questions. The only thing that I wish was different is some office plants, but don’t worry my desk is slowly sorting that out.

When I go back to university, I will recommend any student to simply approach DKA to see if they have any positions as it appears they really do want to invest in their staff. I have learnt a lot in the short time I have spent here. They have provided me the possibility of working closely with multiple architects on different projects which has been an incredible learning opportunity. As Architecture students we often hear about the horrors of working for a company and being set to design a bathroom followed by another bathroom and another bathroom. However, in these 3 months I have been able to work on modular hospital wards, a school swimming pool as well as jumping in on other projects to help with creating multiple design options. As jobs go this has been my favorite.

In the future I hope to continue my education and complete my part 2 & 3, but while I am still at DKA I hope to be able to work on a project from start to finish to experience as much of the process as possible.

Harry will hopefully be at DKA for a year so lots of time to grow some more plants. His corner of the office is greening up nicely and to see the healthcare and education projects that he’s involved in become real buildings.

In contrast, as a Bath graduate, Nicki will be leaving the DKA studio in late January to pursue her part II MArch course. In the relatively short time that she’s been with us Nicki has got stuck into both education and automotive projects! Here are her Reflections on Practice:

I’ve been at DKA for just over three months and will be here until the end of January, before I return to university for my Part II. Since starting at DKA, I’ve been working with Andy through Stage 4 of an education project which has been a great way to learn about the preparation of drawings for the construction stage. Working as part of the design team and developing my knowledge of how different disciplines interact has been extremely useful.

I’ve really enjoyed working in practice and getting to grips with Revit – it’s great to have this level of co-ordination in drawing software and it definitely saves a lot of time whilst making sure you consider the impacts of your design decisions. I’ve really enjoyed detailing various aspects of schemes and my technical knowledge has increased considerably.

The practice is extremely welcoming and I’ve learnt a lot from everyone I have worked with. It’s great to be working in the office and Friday pub lunches are always a bonus too! There’s always plenty of discussion in the office concerning current (and past) schemes as well as a general openness to all aspects of the project, which as a student you don’t always experience. Outside of the practice, I am currently completing a university assignment concerning the role of the architect so it has been extremely interesting to experience the implementation of legal aspects of an architect’s work and improve my understanding of procurement, planning processes and co-ordination between consultants.

Before I finish in January, I’m really looking forward to getting involved in other projects at differing work stages to further my experience of project progression.

We’re proud to be an open, welcoming and supportive employer supporting the next generation of future architects. Having students keeps our team fresh, encourages mentorship and makes us keep questioning, testing and communicating our assumptions and design decisions.


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