Welcome to the Noadswood alumni page. We are a new and growing network of former Noadswood pupils. Our aim is to inspire and encourage current pupils and provide them an insight into the world beyond school by sharing our memories, keeping us updated on personal and professional achievements and coming back to speak with pupils. If you are a former pupil and would like to get involved please complete the form below and get in touch or alternatively, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Thomas Smith, Class of 2011: I attended Noadswood from 2006 until 2011. On top of the classic subjects, my optional subjects were; Art, Psychology, Product Design and Sport. I got pretty much B grades across the board, except for the more Arty subjects, where I achieved a couple of A grades.
From Noadswood I went on to Brockenhurst College where I finished my A-Level in Fine Art, which I started at Noadswood. I also studied Graphics, Law, Biology and Psychology. I was very much of the opinion at this stage that I should do something very academic, like all my friends. When I got my A-Level results through, it was clear this route was not for me (Art – A, Graphics – B, Law – C, Biology & Psychology D).
Towards the end of my A-levels, I realised that I was never going to be a lawyer or any of the other classic ‘aspirational’ job titles. So, I went and did a foundation diploma at the Bournemouth Art Institute (Now called UAB). Here we were given time to explore our own creative skills, with all number of different courses including: screen printing, sculpture, metal work, casting, fine art, photography, mixed media and 3D design. I headed down the 3D Architecture route, as it is something that has always interested me. I loved it, and so applied to study Architecture and I was offered a place at UWE in Bristol. Bristol is a sick city and cannot recommend it enough to students, especially amongst young raving enthusiasts.
My first two years in Bristol were great, but was made even better by being offered a place at Politecnico di Milano, as part of the Erasmus programme, to study Architecture for a year. The Erasmus scheme is a project run by the European Union which helps students study abroad all over Europe, and they give you a lot of money to do it (a lot more than Student Finance England…. and they don’t ask for the money back!)
My architecture course was four years, one of which was in Milan, so I spent my final year in Bristol, where I achieved a 1st class honours degree in Architecture and Planning (Batchelor of Arts). It is worth nothing that in regard to architecture, everyone thinks you need to study Maths, Physics and all other manner of impossible subjects. It is not necessarily true… these people have a very important role in architecture, but more arty people like me are just as valued, because no one wants to talk about maths all day. You study relatively the same course, but one looks at it more from a numbers point of view (BSc), one looks at it from a more arty and narrative based point of view (BA). However, the best people can do both.
After my final degree hand in, I started an internship at North Somerset County Council, where I endured the folk of Western Super Mare on a daily basis for two months. I was actually given an award by the Royal Town Planning Institute for ‘biggest contribution to professional practice and academic excellence’, and they gave me 100 quid, which was sweet.
After university I started looking for graduate jobs in Architecture, and flung my CV all around the world; Beijing, Milan, Paris, New York, Vancouver, Berlin etc… Whilst I was doing this, I was working behind the bar at a restaurant called ‘The Pig’ in Brockenhurst. This was great as a fun thing to do and a way of boosting my work ethic. It’s quite a fancy place, so they taught me a lot about nice wine and good food, which has stood me in good stead for my current life.
After a couple of weeks of mentions of interviews, I was offered my current job in Paris, at Moreau Kusunoki architects. https://www.moreaukusunoki.com/projects (some of my work is actually on the site, particularly the competition called ‘Brest Centre National des Phares’ (the national Lighthouse centre of France), a restoration project of a fish market in northern France. We won the competition early this year and constructions starts this time next year, so watch this space.
It is worth noting that I don’t speak French, I can get by, but my job role doesn’t rely on it, in fact they actually hire more people who are native English speakers because it’s more useful for international business. You just have to find a company that works in the international market. Architecture is an industry that you can travel around the world and still do the same job, its great!
I mainly only work on competition architecture, where they select maybe 5 architects to battle it out to design the best building. Since I have been at Moreau Kusunoki, we have been shortlisted for two competitions that I entered. We actually won one of these competitions: The Powerhouse Precinct at Parrmatta is a museum project based in western Sydney (we predominantly design buildings for the public realm and culture). The project budget was 400 million AUD, so it is the largest project the company has ever done (we are only 15-20 people) and it is the second biggest cultural investment by the New South Wales government since the Sydney Opera House.
We also got shortlisted for a competition for a market place in Birmingham, with a 60 million budget.
Unfortunately, competitions are confidential, so I cannot show you any work from these until they are publically released but I would be happy to send you other work by the company. The most famous project was the Guggenheim Helsinki, which made the company shoot to the international scene. https://www.archdaily.com/tag/guggenheim-helsinki
Finally, I have been here for 15 months now, but I have to continue with my qualifications to become an architect. It is a long journey, and maybe it is not as well payed and a doctor or lawyer, but God damn its fun! I hope to do my RIBA part 2 at UCL in London, or the London school of Architecture, and then maybe do my part 3 to qualify. I would also want to travel around the world a bit. The office I currently work at is the most diverse place I have ever been; Japanese, Greek, Italian, Argentinian, Cypriot, Spanish, French, Russian. Considering we are only ever 15-20 people, it is very exciting to hear these people’s lives. I think there is an element of fortune favours the brave! Many of the people I work with are a lot older than me and since they have left the company, they have left architecture and gone on to become artist, sculptors and historians. It is so great to see people not being restricted by one certain career and by one certain nation.