Graduate Profiles - BA Architecture and Landscape

Hannah Smart

How has your degree experience helped you in your career?

Many Architects, Landscape Architects and Urban Designers can understand the ‘positive spaces between the buildings’ or the ‘buildings themselves’. There are very few of us who understand what it means to be versed in both and in the wider context - the city, the metropolis, the town, the village, the street, the rural context, the individual house. This is unique only to dual architecture and landscape students and provides us with a professionalism and design flair that makes us able to be the true ‘place-makers’ of the future.

I can’t emphasise enough how studying the dual architecture and landscape course has helped me and furthered my own career. I am always delighted when I am asked to help out with teaching the next generations of successful students who I know have many career paths and choices ahead of them.

Where did life take you after graduation?

Following my degree I went to work in an architectural practice, Maurice Phillips Partnership. I was very lucky to be given my first job – a masterplan for 100 mansions and an Equestrian School and Hotel in Dublin. This is not the kind of immediate exposure that one would expect a Part 1 to have however the office felt that the combination of my experience in both Architecture and Landscape Architecture went hand in hand with the ethos of the masterplan and its connection with the rural landscape.

After completing my Diploma in Architecture I applied for a position at Terry Farrell and Partners and to my surprise was offered the job over many other applicants. What set me apart from others was that I demonstrated a multidisciplinary approach and that my experience in Architecture as well as Landscape Architecture encompassed the ethos and mind-set of the practice.

I was immediately swayed across to the Urban Design team and soon realised that Urban Design was my natural career path and that it seamlessly integrated everything that I had learn whilst studying on the dual course at The University of Sheffield.

I was fortunate to have worked on some fantastic projects alongside Sir Terry and the team including, the regeneration of Battersea Power Station as a public park, a vision for the revitalisation of Holborn from Tottenham Court Road to Chancery Lane and, most notably, a landscape led masterplan for Earls Court.

The theme that runs through all of these projects is that I was able to offer a landscape led approach to masterplanning whilst also understanding architecture - which was unique because of my dual training.

What is your current job like?

The dual course seamlessly integrates and delivers all of the key lessons and learning that span the realm of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and come together to give a real understanding and grounding in Urban Design, that cannot be beaten by any other university experience – I wouldn’t swap my training for the world!

hannah smart, Urban Design Associate at West Waddy ADP, Independent Urban Design and Landscape Consultant

Having learnt from Sir Terry the application of my training at degree level, I left Farrells to set up my own Urban Design Consultancy. I was then tempted away from Consultancy to become the Urban Design Associate and to kick start a new Urban Design team at West Waddy ADP, a practice that sees the value of a multidisciplinary approach. We integrate Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Planning and Urban Design under one roof, not only allowing us to offer a complete service to our clients but also to work collaboratively between these disciplines as we believe that this is where the real value is added.

Why are dual architecture and landscape graduates employable?

The integration of landscape has become a key driver in development both in the city and in a more rural context. Developers who were once shy of putting money into landscape and public realm and preferred to spend money on the buildings alone, are now realising not only the importance of ‘Placemaking’ and creating places that people want to live in, but also the value in investing in public spaces, open spaces, and green spaces.

With the need for housing in the UK growing exponentially and the lack of 5 year housing land supply throughout the country, professionals with skills that can cross the boundaries of disciplines and people who can think outside of the red line, are very much in demand. This makes dual students extremely employable, now in this development climate even more than in the past.

Within the last few years, I have employed three dual students and when I am looking to build up my design teams, they are my first port of call and always will be. The reason – they all ‘just get it’. They inherently ‘get’ Urban Design, they know Architecture and they know Landscape Architecture. This makes my life as a manager a lot easier, I know I’m getting the best and that the students are helping me to provide a first class service to my clients.

Amanda McDermott

How has your degree experience helped you in your career?Amanda McDermott

The company I work for is Landscape Architecture only, however, I regularly benefit from having an understanding of how the landscapes I am designing and assessing fit into the built environment as a whole. It is also useful when collaborating with Architects to understand their perspective.

Where did life take you after graduation?

I undertook two years out in a Landscape Architecture office in Sheffield, before returning to Sheffield for my masters degree (MLA) in Landscape Architecture. Having studied the dual undergraduate degree, I was able to complete my MLA in one year, rather than two. I passed my Landscape Institute Chartership exam whilst working two years after that.

What is your current job like?

2B Landscape Consultancy Ltd is a small company, with a varied workload, so two days are rarely the same, which is great! I work from home quite often and am sometimes out on site visits or at meetings, so I never spend a whole working week in the same place.

I work on a mixture of LVIA and design projects. I can be:

  • using GIS and CAD to produce master plans, detail design, or maps for baseline assessment
  • report writing, for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, specifications, fee proposals, public consultation exercises etc
  • producing graphics to visualise our schemes - whether that might be accurate photomontage, or images to explain a design and capture the imagination
  • I also undertake some office administration and networking including our social media presence and website editing

What advice would you give to a current Dual Architecture and Landscape Architecture student?

The dual course is great because it keeps your options open. Whichever discipline you choose (if you do choose one and not both) it is important to give equal attention to the other - particularly the people you are studying with, they will become useful future contacts when you need someone to collaborate with!

Also step outside of the university bubble and get some work experience and get involved in the professional bodies as early as possible. Attend local LI / RIBA branch events, volunteer on their committees. You will gain an understanding of the reality of the professions and potentially meet your future employer!

Sheffield is a wonderful city to study Architecture and Landscape Architecture in. The two University departments are world class, the city environment is innovative and inspiring. Count yourself lucky and enjoy your time!

Amanda McDermott, Chartered Landscape Architect, 2B Landscape Consultancy Ltd

The professions are so excitingly broad that it is as important for you to understand the different areas you might end up working in, so that you can make an informed choice about jobs to apply for.

When you reach the point at which you are applying for jobs, consider applying early, and not just to the companies that are advertising. If you really like a company, email them with your credentials and a personal note as to why you want to work for them, and why you would be useful to them - they will know that you are proactive and may have an opportunity.

Wherever you apply for jobs, be personal. If we receive a generic email it tends to be dismissed, when we get a personal and thoughtful one it is read carefully and considered.

Did you undertake any extra-curricular activities whilst at university that you would recommend to current students?

I had both work experience in both Architecture and Landscape offices on Wednesday afternoons and in holidays whilst I was studying. I also got involved in SLIC (Student Landscape Institute Council) and the local LI branch, which were great for both experience and contacts.