Meet Oliver Smith

Oliver Smith
Associate

Having grown up in Ludlow with my parents and brother, I moved to Bristol to study Architecture at UWE in 2008, where I lived until 2012. I made the decision to return to my roots and move back to Shropshire upon graduation. I am now living within a stone’s throw of my childhood home with my wife and daughter. We have recently finished building our dream home and we’re looking forward to welcoming our son to the world in a few weeks.

 

What attracted you to being an Architect?

Having experienced the family home being flooded in 2007 I grew interested in finding out why the flood levels reached such heights never reached before and how the built environment has impacted on our ecosystems. My interest in design and buildings grew from there.

 

What attracted you to work for RRA?

Since returning to the area in 2012 following graduation I had been following the growth and success of RRA, and as a new graduate the idea of working there felt something of a far off vision at the time. I did some freelance work while I looked for the right place to start my career properly, and upon sending some of my work to Mark I was soon invited to visit the office to meet the staff and have a chat. As I waited eagerly to find out if my application had been successful, Mark’s small daughter called me from Mark’s phone – as I answered expecting the decision with baited breath I was greeted by a little voice calling for a friendly chat! Soon after Mark called to offer me the post, and I haven’t looked back.

 

What did you like about lockdown?

I liked the opportunity to reconnect with the simple things in life. Bug hunting with my daughter, making bread from scratch, walks in the nearby hills. It stripped away a lot of chaos of life, and although it was a scary and unsettling time, it taught me to appreciate the small and simple things, once some of life’s distractions were taken away. Life slowed down for a couple of months and it made me appreciate what we have on our front door step, as well as how fortunate I am to have such a fantastic family.

 

What did you hate about lockdown?

Having our daughter at home while continuing to work from home was a juggle. She is too small to really understand the concept of me being at home but unavailable, so some meetings were interrupted for toilet training announcements or requests for CBeebies! It is something we have all learnt to adapt to. Not being able to see family, or knowing when the situation would end was also very difficult. I also lost my Gran who reached the ripe old age of 100 to Covid, which was a sad time made worse by not being able to even give a simple hug to members of my family outside of my bubble.

 

What do you hope the world will learn from the pandemic?

During lockdown there were clear benefits to the environment – less traffic on the road, less planes in the air, less food being wasted. It was as though our planet had the opportunity to take a breath, to undo some of the damage we have done and to begin to heal itself with the improvements to ecosystems and a reduction in pollution levels. I hope that with restrictions easing, we embrace some of the changes we have been forced to make, and continue to improve how we live for the good of our environment.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

The biggest joy I have is spending time with my 3 year old daughter, Ottilie, remaking dens that I learnt to make when I was a child, teaching her sports that I used to play, such as football and tennis, as well as just being generally daft. Her current passions are gardening, baking and fort building, so these are skills I have been fine tuning in recent months! I also enjoy running, and before lockdown completed  a wolf run that is a combination of a 10km with an obstacle course. When time allows I also play the saxophone and show my support to the mighty Aston Villa who my Great Great grandfather used to play for in the 1880’s.

 

What do you like about your job?

Where we live is so important to our wellbeing, both mentally and physically, and providing a home that exceed a client’s expectation is a great feeling. I like to be able to stretch boundaries, make our built environment more interesting and dynamic, whilst also providing people with their perfect home. Taking  a clients wants and needs and putting this into a design is an exciting prospect and something I enjoy doing. There aren’t many things that are as satisfying as when a client at the end of their project says they are completely blown away, or we have surpassed their expectations with what we have achieved.

 

Are there any famous buildings that you would really love to visit and why?

I would like to visit Falling Water designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the first buildings taught about in university and one that most people have heard of even if they have no interest in architecture, however the opportunity hasn’t arisen for me to see it as of yet. Although it isn’t technically a building I would also love to visit Machu Picchu in Peru and get a better understanding of how the people managed to live in such an extreme environment.

RRA Architects associate Oliver Smith