Interview: Top Student Anna Pamphilon

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Today’s blog post is a short interview with Anna Pamphilion. Anna graduated from the Sustainable Architecture course at CAT this year achieved one of the top marks in her year group for her thesis looking at post occupancy evaluation of buildings.

How does it feel to have graduated?


I must admit that it feels very good. I was studying at the same time as working part time and looking after a toddler, so finding the time to study was frequently quite a challenge. However, the highly interesting course content and my passion for the subject kept me going!


What particularly attracted you to the course?


Prior to starting the course, I had headed up the sustainability group at the architectural practice that I was working for. Through both this, and working as a project architect for a number of years, I gained quite a bit of knowledge in the field.


I therefore wanted to find a course with sufficient technical depth that would compliment the knowledge I had already acquired. The course at CAT was detailed and technical enough to do this, whilst also being offered in a long distance format that enabled me to choose when I studied, which was ideal for my situation.


What did you write your thesis about?


Working as an architect I was both highly aware and concerned about the gap between designed and actual energy use, compounded by unfulfilled user expectations. As a consequence I became interested in Post Occupancy Evaluations (POEs), a process of evaluating built buildings through monitoring and feedback, and their real potential to help bridge such gaps.


Through the thesis I wanted to investigate the veracity of a number of opposing opinions in relation to POEs. It seems that whilst there is one school of thought that believes POEs to be one of the most cost effective actions to reduce the environmental impact of buildings both present and future, there is a reluctance from industry to believe a POE’s potential for delivering useful information that could help architects (and the wider construction industry) design more ‘sustainable’ buildings.


The research comprised a literature review, a POE, and an analysis of a POE’s potential for change when compared to other opportunities for improving the sustainability of a building.


In order to assess a POE’s real potential, I felt it crucial to carry out a POE first hand and was lucky that the company I worked for, Hawkins\Brown LLP, were actively looking to carry out such a study of the recently completed New Art Exchange in Nottingham. Whilst this particular POE was extremely positive, demonstrating that the building’s users really liked the building and that it fulfilled many of its initial objectives, it also demonstrated the very real need for more effective handovers to ensure efficient building use and user satisfaction.


Ultimately the principal findings of the thesis were that POEs do have the potential to deliver useful information that will help architects (and the wider construction industry) design more ‘sustainable’ buildings and that they represent a very cost effective method of doing so.


What do you want to do next?


I have really enjoyed working as a Senior Architect and Sustainability Consultant for Hawkins\Brown LLP whilst studying for the masters. I’m expecting my second child in a couple of weeks and expect that that shall keep me busy for a bit. However, I shall continue to stay informed with current thinking in the world of sustainable architecture and will continue to offer advice / consult on sustainable design going forwards.


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