Three questions for Hannah Cattanach, winner A&DS Urban Design Award 2017

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Hannah Cattanach, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, recently won the A&DS Urban Design Award for her project Form of Space, Aberdeen

How do you feel about winning the award?

Hannah Cattanach: I’m completely bemused – totally wasn’t expecting it but so pleased because it validates everything I’ve been doing.

What are your plans for the future?

I’ve just recently moved down to London so I’ll be looking to get a Part 2 position with a London practice. I’m hoping for somewhere quite big so that I can have a look around, try a lot of different projects, gain a lot of different experience and then when I eventually pass my Part 3 I’ll hopefully move back to Scotland and set up a practice of my own to try and better the community I suppose – that’s what I really want to do.

I come from a village and then I did my Degree in Aberdeen so I’ve always been in small places and always want to go somewhere big and do stuff that’s completely different to what I’m used to and open up experiences. Really to give it a shot and then you’re more able to bring the wider experience back to the situations that you already know. But the main aim is to set up my own practice – my partner’s an architect as well so we’re quite well off in that respect.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about studying architecture?

Don’t make the decision lightly I’d say. We had so many people in first year who had said “yeah let’s go to university – architecture sounds cool, let’s do that” and just wasted a year of their life because they weren’t fully prepared to go into how invested the course was. It was only the people who really stuck at it who managed to pull though to the end – so if you’re coming into it half assed don’t really bother. Unless you think you might have an epiphany moment at some point – which a few people did have actually. There was a few people through the Bachelors who didn’t really care and then they went on their year out and found themselves and came back to 5th year all guns blazing.

Remember it’s hard and also be true to what you like and what you think because through my whole masters project the lecturers were saying “oh we’re not very sure about this and that, this is very different to everybody else’s project, it’s a bit weird” but I said – “no this is what I want to do” and pulled it off – so stick to your guns basically.

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