CAT Graduate profile – Paula Huerta Andrés, ArchitectJune 3, 2020
Home » CAT Graduate profile – Paula Huerta Andrés, Architect
Alis Rees, our Graduate School Marketing Officer, recently caught up with Paula, who graduated from CAT in 2011. She now has her own architectural studio Studio Bambook in Indonesia and is an international green building consultant and circular economy lecturer.
What was your background before studying at CAT?
I was a designer architect, I had studied to become an Accredited Professional in LEED (a professional credential in green building principles) and BREEAM (a sustainability assessment method for master planning projects) but I wasn’t a sustainable consultant yet.
I loved travelling and exploring but I had little interest in sustainability. It was through the LEED and BREEAM and thanks to my old boss that I became more aware and it became my passion.
So what led you to choosing to study at CAT?
After becoming a LEED and BREAAM AP I realised the impact of architecture in the environment, I wanted to learn more. Suddenly my job was meaningful and I could contribute to change things and improve things through architecture.
I heard of CAT through my old boss, who had visited the centre and understood that it was a place for me. I was tired of design, architecture meant so little when I was a designer. Now architecture means SO MUCH, when I know what impact it has and how important it is if we want to achieve a low carbon future. Studying at CAT was revolutionary for me!
It sounds as though your studies at CAT had a huge impact on your life.
Well, it literally changed my life. I remember the first module where we looked at “Where are we now” which left me so depressed and worried and travelling back to London on the train afterwards, seeing the city and how everything was lit up so bright and wasteful… I was very shocked for a while.
But now my whole career, my whole life and my mind is totally different since my time at CAT.
Professionally, it’s pushed me to a level that I would never have achieved with only design architecture, and 10 years later I can see the difference between myself and my fellow architects, where they are professionally and where I am.
Now everyone wants to learn sustainability but also because we can see that it’s needed more and more. It is the future, but back then there were few who really cared about it.
I now give lectures at universities and I ask the students if they are aware that Architecture can change the world, and most of them do not. This is a message that I will continue to keep sharing and sharing.
What skills or knowledge did you pick up on the course?
Mostly I learned how to look at things differently. Of course, I learned about building physics and I learned in every module about solar, wind, energy modelling, passive design… but in general, I learned more about the impact of architecture and that this for me was more powerful than learning any other skills or knowledge. CAT definitely taught me how to look at things in a different way.
What are you working on now and what was the path that brought you here?
After completing the Masters at CAT, I was working in Singapore for 4 years as a Sustainable Consultant in charge of Green Building Certifications for large Corporate Groups and big buildings: Hospitals, Data Centers, Manufacturing Plants, Laboratory Buildings, etc.
During that time, I designed and built together with my husband our Bamboo Eco Home in Lombok Indonesia and that lead me to start more projects locally until I moved permanently at the end of 2014 and started my own architecture studio.
What I love the most is the sustainable aspect of architecture, I am in a place where I don’t need to fight to implement sustainable strategies in our projects. If someone wants me to design their project, they know that I’ll be bringing them a strong sustainable solution.
Since 2014 I have also been consulting, lecturing and designing mostly on Net Zero projects. I am also involved in a larger group of professionals that work here in Lombok on starting side projects related to Circular Economy and Waste to Value.
You must be very busy then, what are your plans for the future?
I believe I will slowly phase down the design and building aspects of my work so that I can move into doling more consulting and participating in different projects in different areas but all impactful. Right now I am involved in so many things, the latest and most exciting is a BSF pilot project here in Lombok. I really want to change the world and become a reference of the change. Someone that walks the talk. This is why I live how I live, and I do what I do.
I want to also move towards lecturing and public speaking a bit more, mostly to show the work I am doing and the work that others are doing as I collaborate on so many projects and initiatives, from Waste Management to Education, to social impact through architecture, etc. Also since 2017 I have begun to lecture about Circular Economy, as I was able to become an Advanced Leadership Foundation Leader, so I have been doing that for a while.
These opportunities led me to other opportunities. People tell me I inspire them, so I just need to keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully reach a broader audience. This year I turn 40, I still have a long way to go on my sustainability journey.
Hopefully, we can push for a greener future together.
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