Life as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant at Benoy

Tristan Headshot 1

Contact Tristan Hubbard, Architectural Assistant

Each year, Benoy takes on junior architects for a 12-month period to provide them with training and experience. Here, Tristan Hubbard talks about his time at Benoy and his architecture journey past, present and future.

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Can you describe your education and architecture pathway to date?

Between 2018 and 2021 I was at Oxford Brookes University, where I studied architecture as an undergraduate. In September 2022, I joined Benoy on placement as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant, and in September 2023 I’ll be going to UCL to do my Masters. 

I’m currently based in Benoy’s London studio, focusing mainly on UK projects but with exposure to overseas work as well. I’ve been working under several architects, who provide expert guidance and support whilst pushing me to think differently. The great thing about Benoy is the flat line hierarchy, which means everyone is encouraged to form opinions and have a voice in the design process developed through their experiences from different project backgrounds. It’s a really interesting, dynamic place to be. 

Office led scheme 3

What kind of work have you been involved in?

For the past eight months I’ve been working on several projects with a focus on feasibility studies and early stage design work. I’m currently engaged in an office-led scheme in Riyadh for developing the concept. I’ve been involved in a lot of the visuals for the project, including hand drawings as a communication device. Previously, I thought it was all about the architecture, but the past 9 months has brought a deeper understanding to how spaces are absorbed, the feeling of the place, and how those spaces will work for people. 

Public realm

What most excites you about your current role?

I really like being surrounded by different people and personalities. There’s an exciting new tech team at Benoy, implicating sustainability from data driven models and scalability with software, workflows, AI, furthering innovative design processes. The ability to move between teams, to discuss different stages of projects, new trends, extracting data whilst cohesively communicating a narrative is enlightening. It’s a truly multidisciplinary and multinational environment, with staff from all over the world working together. And I like that a lot.

Office led scheme

What skills and techniques have you learned in your time at Benoy?

I’ve been introduced to all kinds of new software, tools, and benefitted from some quality teaching. In particular, I’ve spent a lot of time in Procreate, the digital illustration app, which has been great testing ground for developing strong ideas, assimilating the complexity of a problem and letting the idea speak clearly for itself. I’ve also been developing my 3D design presence that start to share conversations with the drawing process. Rhino 3D has been great for this, especially with its permeability into Revit, which enables you to keep your modelling very conceptual during early design stages. 

But the main thing for me has been building confidence to speak out in design meetings; to contribute to discussions and decision making. Learning how to talk about my sketches and how I’d approach a design solution has been a valuable process for me – personally and professionally. 

Residential led mixed use development

How have you found the Benoy mentoring programme?

It’s been a really fluid experience for me. My line manager has been great in checking in on me and seeing how I’m doing. But it’s not just limited to one person; I see the whole office as a source of learning and support. Your interests take you into the pathway of this person or that, and here at Benoy everyone’s really open to discussing ideas and helping out where they can. 

Who or what inspires your work?

Seeing the architecture field as having nebulous edges has been really interesting. I had a lot of different interests growing up, such as music, film, art, and I didn’t really know they could talk to each other. What I love about architecture is that it enables me to bring all these interests together and share a common language. Now I often think about how I can use an idea from, say, music, to inform my design. I’ve come to realise that the structural framework of architecture and the composition of music are very similar and understanding how you can break into established rules to chase innovation is very alike. I play the piano, and I like looking at the ways rhythm can be explored and how we can take a conceptual approach to sound and space. Process over product.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I think it’s having the freedom to explore those interlinked ideas. You become more fearless coming into the world of architecture, and seeing how that can drive change and experimentation is really exciting. I like engaging with new ways of working, new ways of representing concepts, and defining my own process and approaches. The learning experience at Benoy has really given me the confidence to explore my own ideas, and it’s something I look forward to taking further during my Masters. 

I’ve also loved the tech-driven way of working although it comes from a different angle to how I am used to. Digital fabrication is something I’m really keen to explore as my drawings evolve in their course. There are so many new languages and software programmes to learn. Benoy has really lifted the lid on those possibilities and I can’t wait to do more. I’m keeping myself open all kinds of experiences and influences – I think that’s really important, avoiding premature self-definition, and it’s good to stay receptive of different avenues and ideas in your work. 

Office led scheme 3
Public realm
Office led scheme
Residential led mixed use development