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Tuesday22 July 2014

From drawing boards to debt: Harri Williams-Jones

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In the final installment in our series, architecture student Williams-Jones talks about facing a future in architecture

Harri Williams-Jones (22)

Harri Williams-Jones is a second year part I student at the AA, where he went after a foundation year at the London College of Fashion.


By the time I’ve finished my training I hope we’ll be in better times in terms of employment. While it is not impossible to get a job, it is still very tough to get the one you want. It’s also very difficult to get work experience for the year out — one of my friends had a few things lined up but in the end he isn’t even working in architecture. There is a bit of a general undertone of doom and gloom. I think this may be a reason why some people may consider other career paths even after completing a seven-year degree.

I’m putting off thinking about the debt. Everyone works — I’ve been a waiter and friends of mine have worked in shops and pubs but it’s completely detrimental to being a student. And at the end of the seven years, the debt amounts to a big sum and that’s something that puts people off studying architecture, as well as the time it takes. I take the view that if it’s really what you want to do, you have to commit to it.

The AA is well known for its style of parametric architecture but I’m not personally so interested in that. I may well do my part II somewhere else to get a broader experience. At the moment I’m quite excited by the narrative-based architecture of R&Sie in Paris. I like the way they take the narrative right into the building and it’s something you experience as you walk around it. My other favoured architects are John Pawson and Tadao Ando.

I think the public are generally misinformed that all architects have a lucrative career but I would like to think that it is still highly regarded.

I definitely want my own practice. I’d like to work in both a small and a large firm to get experience of both ends of the spectrum and hopefully set up on my own a few years down the line. But we’ll have to see what happens. I haven’t had any experience of building so it’s too early to think about what areas I’d like to work in.

I hope I can engage with projects of social interest. I also want my business to deal with the ecological aspects of architecture, but I don’t think this is necessarily a mutual attitude of the rest of my colleagues.

I’ve just started a new project for a stem cell clinic. I have a far-out starting point and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops. It’s very exciting as a student not to have to think about costs. It’s a real luxury and I’m trying to take full advantage of that while I can.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Getafix

    Hmm. As Frank Lampard points out, is any British student able to afford to study at the AA representative of the wider student body?

    Last time I checked there were virtually no British students at the AA. While an international mix is part of the life and soul of many good architecture schools, the AA has consistently failed to do enough to encourage and support home students.

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