Interview with Cora Kwiatkowski

This month we are speaking with Cora Kwiatkowski, Divisional Director and Head of Universities at Stride Treglown. Cora is also an accredited RIBA Client Adviser and an active member of the HEDQF Research Group.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an architect with over 20 years’ international experience, a Divisional Director and Head of Universities at Stride Treglown, and a member of our internal Research & Innovation and Consultancy Initiative steering group.

Outside my ‘day job’, I have been appointed as Commissioner for the Design Commission for Wales and I am committed to encouraging design excellence as a thought-leader. Therefore, I also co-chair the Design Review Panel at the Design Commission for Wales and Design West where I am a Board Trustee. Being part of the Higher Education Design Quality Forum I get the opportunity to have an impact in the Higher Education sector.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Having clients and stakeholders tell me how much they love the buildings I designed for them – it is the best feeling to walk into a completed building after years of designing and planning together with a large team.

What is your favourite thing about your career?

Getting into the head of people to fully understand their requirements and create special places and spaces for them – the more complex the project, the better.

I have lived and worked in several countries – Switzerland, Sweden, Germany and the UK – it’s fascinating to understand the different cultural influences and role of architecture.

Describe HEDQF in a sentence?

An organisation aiming to champion and improve the design quality of our environment.

What is your contribution to HEDQF?

I am an active participant in the HEDQF research group and currently the project manager for the ‘Campus spaces and places: Impact on student outcomes’ research in conjunction with AUDE, Willmott Dixon and researchers from the University of the West of England (UWE).

I also enjoy attending the events where there is a lively exchange of ideas and always an opportunity to learn something new.

What does a good HE building mean to you – quote?

A building that stands the test of time and is adaptable to users’ needs. Creative reuse and optimisation of existing estates is one of the areas I am especially interested in.

One thing about you that will surprise people?

I love having a close connection to nature. I own horses and have competed in show jumping, showing and dressage up to national level. (the image shows Cora in summer 2021 with her horse Jamie)

What is your favourite piece of design?

As a student I was very impressed by Tadao Ando’s pavilions which combine art and architecture.

What makes you laugh the most? 

Meeting up with old friends that I haven’t seen for ages as they are now scattered across the world.

Working from home, or office?

Both have a place in my life. I enjoy meeting up with clients on site and the team in the office, collaborating and getting into discussions about design but I also love working from home when I really need to concentrate on report writing or bid work.


That’s it from Cora for now, look out for our next interview in March ….