Build­ing blocks

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - COMMUNITY -

Brett Ni­cholas wants to give Marl­bor­ough peo­ple the chance to share their views on how houses are con­structed.

The for­mer Marl­bor­ough Boys’ Col­lege stu­dent, who is fin­ish­ing his master’s de­gree at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity this year, is writ­ing a the­sis ex­plor­ing whether ar­chi­tects and con­trac­tors should be matched with clients at an early stage of projects.

He thinks this could make a dif­fer­ence when clients have lim­ited bud­gets, to avoid their houses be­ing more ex­pen­sive than what was an­tic­i­pated, and to help man­age the client’s ex­pec­ta­tions.

Can­vass­ing the views of Marl­bor­ough peo­ple is his way of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity, he says.

Brett says his in­ter­est in con­struc­tion started when he was very young and en­joyed play­ing with Lego. With his fa­ther and a brother also in the in­dus­try, it was a log­i­cal choice, but ar­chi­tec­ture ap­pealed over any­thing else be­cause it had ‘‘el­e­ments of art’’.

He worked over­seas as an en­gi­neer­ing surveyor at Heathrow Air­port, work­ing on ter­mi­nal five, be­fore de­cid­ing to pur­sue ar­chi­tec­ture as a ca­reer.

Hav­ing a builder as a brother has helped him see ar­chi­tec­ture from another per­spec­tive, he says.

‘‘You un­der­stand the hand­son as­pect, and it helps you un­der­stand the frus­tra­tion of builders.’’

Brett is pleased he gained some life skills be­fore em­bark­ing on such a de­mand­ing de­gree.

‘‘It’s been tough – there are a lot of late nights. It’s a lot of com­mit­ment.’’

He and wife Ta­nia, who has been ‘‘amaz­ingly sup­port­ive’’, re­turned from Lon­don so he could do his de­gree. He has won a host of awards while study­ing, in­clud­ing a full master’s schol­ar­ship, a New Zealand In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tec­ture award for de­sign for sec­ond-year stu­dents at Vic­to­ria, and a Mainzeal schol­ar­ship at the univer­sity for the same year. He has also been a fi­nal­ist in the Vi­sion­ary Ar­chi­tec­ture Awards, run by the Auck­land Ar­chi­tec­ture As­so­ci­a­tion.

The de­gree cov­ers ev­ery­thing from un­der­stand­ing the prac­ti­cal as­pects of ar­chi­tec­ture and work­ing out fi­nan­cial costs, to be­ing cre­ative and artis­tic.

For the fu­ture, he does not have any plans set in stone.

‘‘I think I’d like to work in a residential mar­ket. There’s more of a re­la­tion­ship with the clients. You go through a jour­ney with them. Com­mer­cial ar­chi­tects don’t have the same emo­tional con­nec­tion; when it’s your own home, it’s re­ally big.’’

The for­mer Renwick boy says the lifestyle in Marl­bor­ough is ‘‘amaz­ing’’ and he comes back to the re­gion of­ten, as he has fam­ily here.

He has less than a year of his de­gree course left to go, and says it is ‘‘nice to see the end of the tun­nel’’. He will then work as an ar­chi­tec­tural grad­u­ate for two to five years be­fore he be­comes an ar­chi­tect.

Photo: ELENA MCPHEE/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ar­chi­tec­ture stu­dent Brett Ni­cholas is invit­ing Marl­bor­ough peo­ple to help with his re­search.

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