Meet Natalie Ballone

Natalie Ballone
Architectural Assistant

I grew up in Worcester with my parents and older brother and moved to Cardiff to complete my BSc in Architecture. Since graduating I have moved back home to Worcester and enjoy quality time with my family – and delicious food due to my Italian heritage.

 

What attracted you to being an Architect?

I was always interested in how the buildings around us completely shape the lives we live and recognised from a young age that I wanted to work within a creative field. During my sixth form I took part in a few work experiences at various practices and knew that it was the right career path for me.

 

How did you end up working for RRA? Or What attracted you to work for RRA?

After graduating in the midst of the pandemic, I knew that I wanted to stay closer to home with so many uncertainties of what was to come. I came across RRA when looking for jobs and was very impressed with the wide range of projects they did. The team were very welcoming during my interview, and I knew it was the place I wanted to be, and I definitely wasn’t wrong!

 

What did you hate about lockdown?

As the first lockdown occurred within my final year of university, it was difficult to move home and complete my degree remotely, missing out on those final university experiences, including a graduation. Luckily, I am continuing at Cardiff to complete my master’s degree, so hopefully there will be some normality by then!

It was also difficult spending so much time without seeing close friends and family, and although the video calls allowed for great catch-up sessions, it just wasn’t quite the same as being face to face.

 

Did you take up any new hobbies in lockdown? –Will you carry on with them?

I really got into house plants; I am not sure if this counts as a hobby! But I have really enjoyed growing my collection. Weekend visits to the garden centre and local plant shop are my favourite. My favourite plant at the moment is the schefflera, which has really pretty leaves which look like tiny umbrellas. I have also been helping with my mum’s vegetable patch, which can be super rewarding when we can pick fresh vegetables from our own garden for dinner.

 

Name one thing on your Bucket List

I love to travel. Before lockdown I was lucky enough to interrail round Europe, visiting some amazing places such as Vienna, Prague, and Amsterdam. However, I would love to travel further afield, especially to visit south America, in particular Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have recently signed up to the Cardiff half marathon so am getting out running a lot more. I particularly enjoying running down by the River Severn in Worcester. I am running for the Little Princess trust, which I am really excited about, as a local charity and one that RRA is currently working with.

I also enjoy walks with my dog and boyfriend, we love walking up the Malvern hills as the view from the top of the beacon is amazing. I have a 7 year old cockapoo, who loves the more adventurous walks, particularly when her frisbees are involved.

 

If you could go anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

I would probably head back to the small town of Casteltermini in Sicily, which is where my dad’s side of the family originate from. It would be great to see some of my extended family again after quite a few years, and of course enjoy amazing local Italian food. As such a small town, situated far off the tourist track, I feel super lucky to of been able to visit there due to family, otherwise I would never of known it even existed.

Easter in the town is particularly amazing, with the “Feast of the Tarata” which is a festival over three centuries old that includes parades and dances. It celebrates the discovery of the oldest wooden cross in the world found in the town, which dates back to 70 A.D.