Guest Blog: Parniyan’s Back for More at DGA

Friday, June 5, 2015

The last time I wrote for DGA, I was looking back from the end of my first year at university at the internship I took on before I started, and how much of an advantage it gave me during those uncertain first steps. Since then, I transferred to Kingston University where I just finished my exhausting but incredibly satisfying second year.

As soon as I handed in my final project, I was eager to get back into an office. Kingston’s course does its best to make every task as true to life as possible and I wanted to see how the newfound professionalism I had developed could be applied in the DGA practice and – to my joy – they welcomed me back with open arms.

The final project for my second year was to design a hotel in Amsterdam, taking into account everything from the constraints of the site and the technical requirements to the surrounding style, culture and even weather. Because of the complex demands and the professional prestige of my tutors, the project felt highly authentic, both in the work required and the inevitable stress.

We visited the site in Amsterdam and toured the city to get a deep sense for the context of our designs and I was astounded by how beautiful the city was and how well period, modern and contemporary buildings could share the same environment.

Once I understood the context, I took inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture for the final design: columns instead of supporting walls, free design of the ground plan and the façade, full length horizontal windows and a roof garden. As I was designing in concrete, I thought I may as well follow in the example of the master of concrete – and I know John is a fan of Le Corbusier as well.

What I find so challenging but also so rewarding about university work is the independence demanded of you. I only have my own research, designs and skills to work with, while in a practice everyone can take on specialised roles and support each other. Having to develop this discipline makes me feel better prepared to work alongside others who have been through the same experience.

Looking ahead, aside from working hard and (hopefully) doing well, I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me. I do know I want to work on projects that are inspired by their context, that look as if they belong, even if their design is contemporary.

Unfortunately, I feel like too many architects are producing designs that could be seen in China or the UK but look alien in both. You can walk down a street in London and suddenly find yourself in the shadow of a building that looks as if it came from nowhere.

That’s why I really appreciate that John and his team always consider the local vernacular of their designs, even if that vernacular needs to be abstracted into a contemporary style. Whether the home sits in a cityscape or landscape, it always manages to fit. A building isn’t a painting that exists just to look nice, you need to think about the people who will be living in it, sensing it and how they will use it.

I feel very fortunate to be accepted for the internship. I could say it’s all down to the strength of my portfolio but truly the generosity of DGA can’t be ignored. My friends and I have found that most practices simply reject second year applicants, so the fact that DGA is willing to take the time out of their intimidatingly busy schedule for someone so early in their architectural journey really must be celebrated.

Everyone is as friendly, helpful and patient as I remember from my first internship. What has changed is that I’m able to give a lot more back. While before I only knew Google SketchUp, my course has taught me how to use vector work in CAD (Computer Aided Design), allowing me to do a lot more work for the practice than before, particularly in interior design.

I look forward to my next few months here at DGA and – once again – give my heartfelt thanks to John and his team,