Looking back on Tibbalds

Six weeks ago, we welcomed our first paid intern, Kieran Easton, as part of a new annual programme of internships at Tibbalds. Kieran blogged about his expectations at the start of the period, and now returns to tell us how the experience has been for him.

by Kieran Easton.

My six weeks have flown by, and I have learnt an awful lot about the world of planning. All of my expectations have been exceeded, and I now have a greater understanding of the profession, and a greater appreciation and admiration for how challenging and dynamic the life of a planner can be!

One unexpected advantage to being an intern has been the variety of the work I have undertaken. From the intricacies of planning applications, to the vital role of community workshops, to the opportunities involved when masterplanning, I have managed to gain a more holistic understanding of planning and urban design.

I have had a chance to explore Tibbalds’ urban design projects, particularly with the team working on the masterplan for Northstowe, a completely new town north of Cambridge,and on a smaller scheme at the coastal village of Iwade.

For Northstowe, I attended a stakeholder consultation for Phase 3 of the project, which opened my eyes to the scale and significance of the development, and the complexities and opportunities that this brings. This opportunity to create spaces, address the housing shortage, and build communities that will hopefully be around for many years to come, has demonstrated the tangible results of an urban designers’ role. The Iwade project gave me an opportunity to learn about block formation and housing density.

A somewhat more playful (but just as important) project involved gingerbread, and the task to masterplan an (edible) model city of the future, to showcase the importance of urban design and display the result in a museum exhibition.. This is the third year of Tibbalds’ involvement in ‘Gingerbread City’, and December’s event promises to be the biggest yet.

The importance of the planning system was clearly demonstrated whilst helping a colleague to submit a planning application for a pavilion on the grounds of a University. What started as a three storey treehouse within a conservation area, was redesigned and relocated to become a more sensitive statement piece set within the landscape. This was an excellent example of great collaboration between architects, planners and other consultants, and resulted in a design which worked for everyone. The experience has given me a greater understanding of live projects, and the uncertainties and challenges involved with this. The ability to adapt, draw and redraw designs, and always strive for an excellent level of customer satisfaction are just some of the ways I observed Tibbalds respond to these challenges. Clear communication and a clear brief help to ensure a strong partnership between client and consultant and it was interesting to see this collaboration first hand. This opportunity has given me the chance to develop my own skills in report writing, teamwork, community engagement and model making. Working with different members of the team, and members of different professions has been a fascinating part of the process.

Most valuable to this opportunity has been everyone who has helped facilitate and enhance my experience at Tibbalds. I have been lucky enough to experience a great breadth of different projects and tasks that Tibbalds undertakes, and meet and work with nearly all members of the team. They have been supportive and welcoming, and always happy to answer any questions. They have managed to balance giving me support and autonomy in the work I have been doing, and allowed me to gain a great deal from the experience.

My experience over the last six weeks has helped to bridge the gap between my academic studies and the workplace, and I now feel much better equipped to go forward in my studies. I would encourage anyone who is interested in this field to apply for a similar position, as Tibbalds have given me a great insight into their world through a variety of real life projects. This experience has boosted my enthusiasm for planning and urban design and I am excited to see what the next chapter holds.

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