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After Redundancy: Living in and out of Architecture

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Redundant architect James Whitaker has looked behind the statistics of the recession to see what redundancy has meant for individual architects in this selection of portrait photographs now on show at the RIBA

This exhibition documents the variety of directions that 24 architects took after redundancy, producing results from cake shop proprietor and journalist, to lighting designer and charity activist.

Each photograph in the exhibition is accompanied by a personal statement about how the individuals took the next step after redundancy and where they are now or hope to be.

The photographs will be displayed from the 3-22 of February at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London.

Sophie Teh, B.Sc.Arch.(Hons), B.Arch.(Hons) ARB RIBA
Sophie is setting up Baker & Té to pursue her ambition of running her own business making and trading her other great interest and preoccupation - ethereal, decadent cakes. ‘When I came to a crossroads about what I could do next with my career, this was my instinctive idea- mixing architecture and good food is my ultimate idea of creative and sensory indulgence.’

Neal Newlands, B.A.(Hons), M.Arch
‘I worked for the NHS throughout my early twenties and while studying architecture to support myself. After being made redundant I was reluctant to go back. I am very glad to be working again and truly valuing positive feedback from the hospital department I am temping in. I get a sense of self-worth that I am doing a noncommercial orientated job.’

Josephine Leeder, B.A.(Hons), M.Arch
‘Losing my job the day after practical completion of my first building was pretty harsh, though not unexpected in this hideous climate. Since then I have been trying out new recipes with the grand plan of doing vegetarian dinner parties for folk in their own home.’

James Dale, B.A.(Hons), M.Arch
‘Since being made redundant in November 2008 teaching hours have increased to 2 days a week (at Edinburgh University), leading studios in the second and third year degree. Alongside this I have undertaken the design of several small house and loft extensions for private clients. And I am currently working for and alongside an architect as part of a small team building a timber framed house on the Kingsland Road, London.


Dominic Humphrey, B.Arch, (Hons) M.Arch, ARB
‘The change that losing my job has brought about has been really positive and much needed. It was terrifying at the time with all the headlines about the next great depression and a huge pile of loans on top of me, however it lead to a new job doing something which I would have not considered nor had the opportunity to do in Edinburgh, and been the catalyst for personal change and new experiences.’

Neal Greenshields, M.A.(Hons), M.Arch
‘Redundancy is a tough process to go through. They say that ‘its not you, its your position that has become redundant’which may be true however a psychologist I recently met pointed out that in psychological terms its all BS. In addition the jobcentre doesn’t help in lifting the spirits at all.’




Caroline Farnan, B.Arch, Dip.Arch, M.Arch, ARB
‘I was made redundant in March, the same week that I passed my Part III. Being made redundant has given me the opportunity to go New Zealand, which is something I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance before now.’


Jamie Ashmore, M.A.(Hons), M.Arch
‘Made redundant abruptly in August 2008. Taken into a meeting room and told to leave that day with a months pay, meaning a month to find work before money ran out - a month and a half with redundancy pay. Spoke to friends that evening - v. lucky - was told of vacancy at Council - an architect friend had been offered position of Design Adviser but turned it down. Applied, was interviewed, accepted.’

Leisa Tough, B.A. ARCH, UNSW
‘I discovered I was to be made redundant on the darkest day of the year, there was ice on the canal and I walked and walked until my hands ached with the cold. Within a week I was a waitress around the corner from my former studio. It wasn’t anywhere I’d ever imagined I’d be at this age, with a university degree and years of hard won experience. Needless to say there was no architecture work to be had. I came to Wapping Project with guest, it is a favourite place in London, and flippantly over a meal asked for a waitressing position which, incredibly, led to architecture work.’


Yasmin Ali, M.A.(Hons)
‘I left employment in April 2009, and many friends in the industry seemed confronted with the same fate. I’ve been on placement with the Architects’ Journal. It’s a great way to see how publishing works, make contacts and get printed in the industry press, before I return to finish my Masters in Urban Design.’

Sam Potts, B.A.(Hons), M.A
‘Architects shouldn’t see redundancy as such a destructive event, but rather one of opportunity! The Redundant Architects Recreation Association (RARA), provides an affordable studio, workshop and exhibition space, was established to attract the redundant architect to come and enjoy something rarely found during their former nine to-five: a haven of total creative freedom.’


Rebecca Milton, B.Arch, Dip.Arch, Dip.UED, ARB
‘A wiser person than me once said that a talent ignored becomes a curse. Following four years of architectural employment, I took up work in the lighting design industry. Twelve months on, after undertaking a string of small but precious projects, I find that architecture has crept back into my life.’


George Omalianakis, B.A.(Hons), B.Arch,PgDip,ARB,RIBA
‘The book of Sinbad - Visit every port and become rich inexperience and wisdom. Live and learn and hope; the sea is infinite. Every new office is a destination and building contracts are riddles for you to conquer. Or so you think. Because you have travelled twenty thousand leagues but never been on a ship wreck before.’

Liam Ross, M.A.(Hons), M.Arch, ARB
‘Universities teach ‘transferable skills’. Teaching is one of them. I’ve taught since graduating, and managed this transfer just as I was being pushed. University is quiet, especially over summer. Compared to an office, teaching work is solitary.’


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