15 December 2015
Cara Buchan has recently joined WYG as a Senior Architect and is based at our Edinburgh office. Having previously worked in the oil and gas sector, she specialises in blast resistant and seismic design. We take this opportunity to welcome her to the team and find out about her passions and the projects she’s most proud of.
What did you study? Architecture.
What attracted you to study this? Since an early age, I was interested in becoming an Architect. Mainly because I enjoyed art and maths at school, and it was only when someone said “you should be an Architect” that the idea actually became a reality.
What is your specialist area? Blast and seismic architecture.
What attracted you to this field of expertise? I’ve worked predominantly in the oil and gas sector, which is where I developed my expertise in blast resistant design. As blast and seismic design are closely related, through developing my blast knowledge I became more interested in the seismic side.
What are you most passionate about in this field? Definitely the seismic design. Working in the UK, it’s an aspect of architecture that doesn’t come around very often, which makes it unusual and an area I’ve become very passionate about. Regardless of the type of project, I also enjoy working with engineers to make sure that the architectural, structural and building services designs work together as seamlessly as possible.
Why is this important to you? On the type of projects and sites that I’ve worked on, how the building performs during and after an event is the most important thing. You have to consider the impact of the architectural elements on the structural and building services elements and how they will move together, which adds a degree of complexity that I find really interesting.
How does your work make a positive impact? If I’m working on a project that requires blast or seismic design, it means the people who occupy the building live or work in a potentially dangerous scenario. It’s then my job to make sure that they are safe should the worst happen.
What projects are you most proud of? I worked on a project for a new Control Building in Azerbaijan; it was the first large scale project on which I was leading the architectural design from the outset. As the project progressed, structural, civil and building services engineering designs develop, plus client feedback and an evolving brief – maintaining your design concept through all this was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. It was also the project that kicked off my interest in seismic design.
Where would you like to see your specialism take you in the future? I would like to gain more experience and knowledge in seismic architecture, ideally working on some high profile international projects. In the future, I’d also like to combine this with some post-disaster or seismic retrofit projects in developing countries; safe buildings shouldn’t just be for those who have lots of money to pay for them!
How does WYG support you to develop your knowledge and interests? In the short time I’ve been at WYG, my colleagues in urban and landscape design have been asking my advice on existing projects with blast resistant design and are keen for me to be more involved in future projects from the outset.
I’m also keen to gain more master planning experience as it’s an area in which I’ve had a little experience and really enjoyed the projects. In the short space of time since starting my new role at WYG, I’ve been able to work on a master planning project with colleagues in both architecture and urban design teams based in the south and have already learned a lot from them.