Allan Corfield Architects. Meet the team – Fiona
Our ‘meet the team’ series focuses on our company and the people who make it great! We know that entrusting someone with the task of building your dream home is a very difficult decision to make.
Therefore, we believe that you should get to know each of us, and see that our reputation for great service is due, not only to our qualifications and experience – but is also our passion. Today we are presenting an interview with our new Chartered Architect, Fiona Ball.
Fiona is our newest recruit and is settling in well with the team, although after only being with us a couple of weeks – she was already off on holiday to India! We are glad to have her back, the same cannot be said for the Indian sweets she brought into the office… not to everyone’s taste. As a keen traveller, she is continually fuelling her architectural inspiration. She is from Edinburgh and lives there with her partner, Matthew who is a professional photographer.
She studied at Edinburgh University, completing her Master of Architecture degree in 2012. Fiona then went on to complete her professional qualification in 2016 and embraces the responsibility and challenges that come with working as a qualified architect. She enjoys the detail design process and problem-solving involved with projects on site.
Fiona is keen to pursue her interest in advancing sustainable construction technologies at ACA. She has a real passion for architecture and aims to create quality light and space in her designs. This, together with well thought out energy comfort solutions can enhance the everyday experience.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ARCHITECT?
I would say that my three main passions in life: architecture, travel and hill walking, stem from my childhood. I was privileged to have parents who took my sister and I along on their great adventures exploring the ancient cultures of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt.
I remember many family holidays involved climbing a lot of steps to reach an inspiring architectural marvel on top of a hill.
COULD YOU PRESENT US A QUICK SUMMARY OF YOUR CAREER AFTER YOU GRADUATED UNTIL YOU JOINED ACA?
Following completion of my degrees at the University of Edinburgh, I worked for Morris and Steedman Associates in Edinburgh for four years where I completed my professional qualification. During my time there I successfully managed the conversion and renovation of two houses and a small-scale office, all listed buildings or within a conservation zone.
I also assisted with several larger scale projects including the renovation and conservation of two townhouses in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. I think preserving our historic buildings for future generations to enjoy is important and rewarding work although I did find conflicts with my sustainability focus.
Last year I moved to Watson Burnett Architects to experience larger scale new build projects, working mostly for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation where their pursuit of efficiency enables more environmentally conscious designs.
Unfortunately my time there was cut short due to redundancy but I did lead a small house extension project and was able to affirm my love of working with a client on their dream home.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO WORK AT ACA?
I was excited by the prospect of working for a sustainability focused practice. I want to learn more about Passive House design and recognise that it is a great opportunity to work with like-minded people where energy generation and performance is never an afterthought. I can’t wait to work with new clients on their dream eco homes.
WHAT IN YOUR OPINION IS THE STRONGEST POINT OF ACA AS AN ARCHITECTURAL PRACTICE?
The focus on sustainable eco homes with a specialised team to provide a unique service to clients based on valuable expertise. A small team working closely together and sharing their knowledge base is very efficient like a well-oiled machine. I really enjoy working in small-scale offices as it gives me the opportunity to really contribute something.
DO YOU LIKE DESIGNING RESIDENTIAL ONE-OFF HOMES? WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SELF BUILD?
I developed an interest in social housing at university and through research have formed the view that when architecture is too prescribed the inhabitants can feel that they have no ownership over a property, something which is needed to enable a house to become a home.
I love the idea of Self Build enabling the client to truly immerse themselves in the process and put their own stamp on their own home.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BE AN ARCHITECT? DID YOU CONSIDER ANY OTHER CAREERS?
I have always loved nature and animals, when I was younger I thought I wanted to be a vet when I grew up. So I didn’t always want to be an architect but perhaps there was an inevitability about it. As a school leaver aged 17, I wanted to change the world and do something good to help people.
My favourite school subject was always Art and I thought that architecture sounded like it would combine Art and Physics, as well as my love of buildings.
I also considered engineering for this reason. Sometimes I think I should’ve been an engineer, I enjoy collaborating with them now and think I would get tired of doing all the calculations. But seriously what could be better than being paid to draw every day?
DO YOU PURSUE YOUR ARCHITECTURAL INTERESTS WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT WORK IN ANY WAY?
Of course, I travel a lot with my partner Matt and I am always taking him off the beaten track on ‘architectural pilgrimages’ to see lesser known modern architecture. Luckily he is a photographer with an interest in pattern so he enjoys documenting many of these buildings.
I like to visit buildings to touch the materials and experience the light and space, something which you can’t get from a drawing or photograph.
Doors Open Day is a great way to access local architecture. I try to keep up to date with a few architectural blogs and magazines, continually fascinated by the progress of sustainable construction techniques and materials. I’m also known to attend the odd extra curricula lecture.
Basically, I love architecture, which is surely what you would want in your chosen architect.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT WORK. WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I set up a hillwalking group a couple of years ago with friends, we have been working our way through a book of 50 walks in the Pentland Hills, south of Edinburgh. I wouldn’t call myself a Munro bagger, although I do enjoy a challenge and have completed the West Highland Way in Scotland and the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand.
I regularly practice yoga, working as an architect can be busy and stressful so my relaxation time is important to me. This year I took up oil painting and have found pleasure in painting the pets of my family and friends. I hope to have a furry companion of my own soon.