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Wenona alumna talks architecture

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According to alumna Ms Emili Fox (1988), who is Co-Director of award-winning architecture firm Fox Johnston, “Architecture is nothing like The Block or House Rules.”

Ms Fox was speaking to a group of Senior College students about the opportunities that a career in architecture offers. The talk was part of a series organised by Director of Student Opportunity and Careers Education, Ms McFetridge. The series enables students to benefit from the talent, insight and expertise of Wenona alumnae, as they contemplate issues such as tertiary education and future career paths.

Ms Fox said architecture wasn’t on her radar when she was at Wenona. She was originally thinking about studying either Law or Communications. However, she’d always loved Maths and with her father and brother both architects, it was obviously something that ran in her blood. She loved her course at university for its creativity and its diversity, but emphasised that while an architecture degree can be hugely rewarding, it is also among the most challenging, with a huge workload and a focus on detail.

“It takes five years and is a very intense degree, with lots of deadlines, long hours and late nights, so you must be passionate. It’s definitely a vocation.”

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However, she also highlighted that the course is extremely versatile, and includes modules that lend themselves to other fields and careers.

“Some of my course mates chose to become writers, photographers, sculptors, film producers or painters.”

For Ms Fox, architecture is an exciting profession as it presents a unique opportunity to shape and transform the environment, not just for today, but for future generations. Furthermore, architects are able to combine creative design with technical knowledge to provide holistic solutions for the built and natural environments.

“Once you study architecture, you really notice the world around you. It really affects the way you think about space and light. It’s like your whole brain opens up and you see things differently, from the big picture as well as giving attention to the smallest details like door handles,” said Ms Fox.

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The students were fascinated to learn how broad architecture is as a discipline, bringing together the arts, environmental awareness, sciences and technology. The type of projects architects work on are varied too. Ms Fox has designed everything from an Early Learning Centre, to high-end apartments, to a public toilet block. She has also just designed her own house, which she says is a bit weird and she feels like she’s now living insider her own head!
Ms Fox also emphasised the personal qualities needed to be an architect.

“You have to be imaginative and creative. But you also need to be able to analyse situations and communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders. You’ve got to be able to collaborate with a range of different disciplines, from builders, to electricians, to carpenters, to landscapers. And you also need to have a sense of humour as there’s always some kind of conflict to resolve, whether it’s with clients, the council or neighbours. My nickname at work is ‘The Solutionator’ as I’m generally able to resolve complex problems quickly.”

Thank you to Ms Fox for taking the time to talk with our students.

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