To make an inevitable journey on the Tube in London is to be exposed to the remarkable diversity of ethnicities and nationalities that are present in this city. The reasons for this mixture are no doubt complex: geographic positioning, commonality of English language, presence of foreign companies, etc. Interestingly, this is no new phenomenon. As highlighted by an article in The Independent, “This ceaseless flow of migration shouldn’t surprise us for a second. After all, Londinium was founded by the Romans, conquered by Saxons and Normans and developed as a commercial centre by Italian, Flemish and Baltic traders.”
For all these reasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise to meet someone who once lived in London. And to meet an architect who once lived here, well, a quick plot of international and internationally renowned architecture firms indicate over 20 with offices in the centre of the city.
As familiar as it is to have colleagues who are from anywhere but here, we began to wonder what it was like for them. In specific, what were their experiences of architecting in two different locales? Inarguably, London has it’s own peculiar characteristics for work-life balance and office culture as compared to the rest of the UK. Notwithstanding these traits, the practice of architecture is fairly consistent across the UK with a National Planning Policy Framework, nationally applied building regulations and a shared attitude – from commoners to clients to contractors – about construction. So we thought we’d stop and ask these international architects to describe their own experiences of working in the UK as compared to working in their native country.