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My Journey Through Architecture and Accessibility

Jemma has been working at Honeycomb now for a year and is an incredible asset to the team! We asked Jemma to share her story with us. Enjoy!

 

From a young age I aspired to be an architect.

“Architecture” was my automatic response to all what I ‘want to do when I grow up’ questions. It was my goal for when I finished high school and definitely one of the most rounded occupations I could find. Architecture seemed like a space that would allow me to combine my passion for design with a desire to tap into the side of critical thinking which I loved when studying maths and science.


I am now 20 years old and about to commence my third year of architecture studies at the University of Melbourne. I have really enjoyed the start of my journey!


Over the last four semesters I have had a number of incredible tutors, who have assisted me to enhance my technical skills, understand the fundamentals of construction and gain insight into the historical and cultural relevance of varying architectural typologies.


With that in mind, I still can’t say I went into this course expecting the stress and workload, or the number of all-nighters that I have had to endure. It has been a challenge to say the least, but it has certainly been one that has helped me improve my time management and capacity to recognise the importance of a work-life balance.


It is natural that most university students waver in their motivation. I found myself starting to lose the motivation that I had when I began my studies. Momentarily, I was trying to simply get through each subject rather than having any passion or desire to do so.


This was addressed when I stumbled upon a new focus for my architecture career.


Four year ago, I was first introduced to the world of disability. Through volunteering at Friendship Circle and then Flying Fox, two organisations which aim to support and provide social activities to people with disability, I was able to form many meaningful connections with a diverse spectrum of individuals. Whilst I went into these experiences thinking I was there to help others, it became clear that I was gaining just as much, if not more, than what I was giving.

When I was presented with the opportunity to combine my passion for inclusion with my architecture studies, it was hard to say no. I began working at Honeycomb Access & Design and the world of accessible design immediately reinvigorated my enthusiasm for architecture.


I learnt quickly that accessible design is not simply a series of standards and check-boxes of compliance but rather it is an opportunity to help people. With this new found focus, I no longer feel like I am designing for function and aesthetic, but rather helping other designers to create an accessible world for all.


My experience as an intern consultant with Honeycomb has allowed me to find the niche which inextricably intertwines my desire to improve the lives of those with disability with my love of architecture and the built environment.

My internship has also undoubtedly assisted my architecture skills and has helped me throughout my university assignments. I have spent time learning to mark up plans and to assess LHA compliance; I have improved my ability to read floorplans and I have expanded on my internal library of notation. My consideration for the world of disability has also been directly translated into my own works at university, where a limited use of necessary stairs as well as the implementation of handrails, contrasting nosings and TGSIs are becoming more prevalent in my studio designs.


By combining my university theory with the incredible insights I have gained at Honeycomb, I no longer feel like I am simply studying architecture to design buildings, but rather on a pathway to making a difference. From as little as pointing out the inaccessibility of my peers’ concepts in their university projects, or simply prompting accessibility questions from my tutors, my experience as an architecture student is being enhanced each day.


I have learnt quickly that it is not an easy task to consider the intention, construction and aesthetics alongside the accessibility of a design, but it is most important as we strive to design a more inclusive world!

 

To follow/contact Jemma, find her on LinkedIn here.


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