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