Learning on the job - an internship at Benoy

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Contact Alya Hazinedaroglu, Architectural Assistant

Each year, Benoy takes on junior architects for a 12-month period to provide them with training and experience. Here, Alya Hazinedaroglu talks about her time at Benoy and her professional inspiration and ambitions.

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Can you describe your education and architecture journey to date?

I moved to the UK from Istanbul in 2019 at the age of 18 with the aim of studying architecture. I enrolled at Central Saint Martins in London, graduating with at BA in architecture in July 2022. Two months later, I started working as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant at Benoy, with a view to continuing my studies at the University of Westminster in September 2023. 

So, I’ve been at Benoy for about eight months now and I’m really enjoying the work environment. It’s a very exciting place to be, with lots of freedom and space to pursue your own interests. It’s inspired me to take on a number of new challenges and explore new ideas. 

What projects have you been involved in?

I’ve been mainly working on a residential tower development. Being part of a small team has meant being exposed to many different project dimensions. I’ve had a lot of client interface and been involved in various stages of the design process, from concept design onwards. It’s been a huge learning curve and great experience for me professionally. 

I’ve also been working on a residential project, which comprises a lot of workshops, co-working and community space alongside residential units. It’s been a fascinating introduction to urban mixed-use. Both projects have given me a clear sense of how architecture can really uplift and enhance the local community experience. 

What new skills have you developed in your time at Benoy?

The great thing about Benoy is the non-hierarchical structure, which means your voice gets heard and you have plenty of opportunities to try your hand at different tasks. I’ve been able to attend meetings, briefings, brainstorms, which has helped me gain unique project insights. 

The tech capabilities within the company are another great advantage. I’ve learned a lot of new software skills and I’m feeling really confident with certain BIM programmes, like Revit. I’ve also been able to work closely with the Head of Technology to develop a Dynamo Script on Revit for a specific project challenge. It’s been a really interesting process. And of course, by working in a place like this, you learn all the soft skills of interaction and communication, which are equally important. 

How have you found Benoy’s mentoring scheme?

It’s a great programme. I meet once a month with my line manager for an official catchup; we discuss how things are going, what I need to work on, what I want to achieve. My team and colleagues keep an eye on me, always sharing their experience and offering advice and encouragement. I feel really well looked after. It’s a very friendly work environment overall; everyone’s really supportive and always happy to help out if you have a question or a problem. And I get a lot of guidance on my career development. In fact, it was thanks to one of my colleagues here that I applied to the University of Westminster for my Part 2. 

Who or what inspires you in your work?

Growing up in Istanbul, I was surrounded by many different architectural languages – historical, modern, religious. It’s such a cosmopolitan place, and I love to explore that mix of old and new in my design ideas today. It also got me thinking about how built environments and spaces can communicate cultural identities, and that’s something I’m also keen to bring to my work. 

Both my grandfathers were architects. They worked on large superstructure and mainly infrastructure projects in different regions. So architecture is in my blood, but I feel I’m doing something very different to them. I’m definitely following my own path.

What have you enjoyed most about your time at Benoy?

I’m very analytical in my approach. I like to read up about previous architectural approaches and building designs. What I’ve really enjoyed about being at Benoy is the practical application of analysis and research, which has pushed me out of my comfort zone a bit. I’ve also learned lots about UK building regulations, which has shown me how you need to balance the creative and conceptual side of things with on-the-ground practicalities. 

But above all, it’s the people who make this place what it is. Different teams working on different design challenges, all sharing their expertise and experience and knowledge. It’s very dynamic place to be. 

What’s happening in architecture now that excites you for the future?

Throughout my education and in my work, especially since the pandemic, I’ve seen how biophilic architecture is on the rise. For me, it’s a strong example of architecture helping to drive positive social change and improve human health and wellbeing. In a world where everything is becoming very tech-focused, built environments that can connect people to nature will be increasingly important in our cities and our lives. And I find that really exciting.