Introducing Shaun

Architecture is one of the most influential professions in our society – taking in the way the built environment is planned, designed, made, used and maintained.

Here at Nicholas Jacob Architects, we value the skills, imagination and dedication of our team. So to celebrate the things which inspire them, we would like to introduce you to some of them and find out more about their different career paths, role models and plans for the future.

We start with Associate Shaun Soanes.

What was the first project you ever worked on?

I believe it was Colchester Town Hall, under the direction of Andrew Claibourne – an excellent architect who now teaches at Anglia Ruskin University. I had to emulate Andrew’s style on the project and some of this teaching still influences me today.

What advice would you have to people starting out in a career in architecture?

To be an architect or technologist, you need passion and discipline, particularly because deadlines are often tight. Good design develops through experience and learning.

But to be great at your job you need visualisation. Architecture is an expression of building art, using the built form to conceptualise ideas and aspirations.  A calm and collective mind is also required. After all, not all clients can express their needs at the outset and helping guide them needs a degree of calmness.

What does your job involve on a day-to-day basis?

I spend much of my time leading the team within our practice and helping our younger members understand and learn skills and gain experience. Attention to detail is key in my role, whether I am working on an historic or contemporary build.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Meeting the clients’ demands and exceeding their expectations.

What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on over the years?

Projects that stand out in my mind include Monks Barn in Nettswellbury, Harlow which was a scheduled ancient monument. I took over the lead role when the project architect left the practice. I also enjoyed working on Darsham House, which was a challenging conservation project.

What do you think is the best piece of architecture in Suffolk?

This is a difficult one. In terms of modern building The Balancing Barn is rather nice. I also love the Willis building of course. Historically I love the splendid array of framed buildings in Lavenham. The wonderful depth of structures and shapes is unique.

You work on a variety of different types of projects from small scale private/residential to multi-million pound redevelopments. What kind of projects excite you the most and why?

I particularly enjoy the projects that scare others!

I like challenges and resolving difficult situations which arise with construction projects.

Where do you see your career heading in the future?

As one of the Associates within NJA and heading up a team within the practice, I am happy. But I have to admit I would still like to lead the design studio…. maybe one day!

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