Interview with HEDQF member Claire Wakelin, Head of Education at HLM Architects

This month we have extended our interviews to include our members.  We have been speaking with Claire Wakelin, Head of Education at HLM Architects, based in their London Studio.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an Architect and I manage and support teams designing Education spaces for all ages – I’ve been working in the sector for 15 years and I love that every project and each client we work with is unique.

I live in Hackney and enjoy going swimming at my local lido in London Fields – I find it’s a great way to think away from my laptop in the tranquillity of lane swimmers!

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Winning an international design competition for Middlesbrough Art Gallery and the completion of Dinton Activity Centre – though not the largest project this is a beautiful, crafted building that I’m really proud of as it pushes preconceptions about what can be done using off site construction as well receiving many accolades for its design and sustainability achievements with the latest being at Constructing Excellence awards.

What is your favourite thing about your career?

I find it very satisfying working with teams to provide creative solutions that transform our client’s project visions into reality – plus the diversity of people, places and projects I worked with.

Describe HEDQF in a sentence?

A forum that shares knowledge with the aim to continually improve HE building design.

What is your contribution to HEDQF?

HLM are represented on the HEDQF research group so as such we contribute to the feedback and discussion of completed buildings to further the understanding of what makes a successful HE building and what students and institutions need from their new spaces.

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

I think a good HE building should be inspiring and emphasise the student experience to provide an environment that is open and accessible for all. I’m really inspired by our new James McCune Smith Learning Hub at the University of Glasgow that has a mixture of lecture theatres, small group rooms, breakout and study areas, reflecting a growing trend in making faculty areas more bespoke and focussing general teaching in a shared learning hub that embraces new teaching pedagogies and optimises space utilisation.

One thing about you that will surprise people?

I cycle to work …

Future of learning: green or bleak?

Green – providing sustainable design solutions is definitely a top priority for more of our Education clients than ever, with the majority of our current projects achieving net zero carbon in operation. We’ve been developing tools to help us get the best outcomes as well as environmental and Passivhaus designers that work closely with our studio teams.

What would you change about yourself if you could? 

I wish I could speak another language, maybe this year I’ll learn Spanish

What makes you laugh the most? 

I thought Schitts Creek was fantastic, both hilarious and heart-warming characters.

That’s all from Claire for now,  look out for our next interview in July …..