How Portsmouth gave me the confidence to pursue my career

Alumnus dressed in a suit smiling away from camera

Graduate Vinesh Pomal tells us about his rewarding career as a Project Architect and how he has Summer School to thank

  • 07 March 2021
  • 4 min read
British Science Week is a national event that provides a platform for educators, professionals, communicators and the public to recognise and celebrate the work being undertaken in STEM related fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths). This year’s theme is ‘Innovating for the Future’ and, with so many Portsmouth graduates working in STEM, we wanted to showcase the important work they’re doing and how they are innovating for the future in their roles.

Vinesh Pomal graduated from DipHE Architecture in 2011 and is a Project Architect for TateHindle. We asked Vinesh to tell us about his role, his journey since graduating and what advice he has for students and graduates thinking of working in STEM: 

My journey into STEM primarily began through a 1-week Summer School arranged by the University’s outreach team which was funded by the EU. As the first child from my family to attend university, the Summer School gave me insight into what university life would be like. I was studying business studies, spanish and product design for my A Levels at the time and luckily the residential gave me the opportunity to explore architecture too. The experience made me realise that not only was architecture the course for me, but I also wanted to study at the University of Portsmouth as I was impressed with the facilities and its location by the sea. 

It takes 7 years to qualify as an architect (5 years study plus 2 years practical experience) and I started the course with no prior knowledge of architecture. I was a shy and nervous student and hated speaking in front of people. Throughout the course, I was taught the practical skills needed to present and, combined with my extra-curricular activities, I built up the confidence to address groups; a key skill needed as an Architect.

The recent pandemic has highlighted how important the quality of spaces are within our homes and being around loved ones which impact upon our mental health and wellbeing. The notion of designing inclusive and intergenerational communities is becoming ever so important. I’m innovating for the future by exploring how we can design homes that are flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances, from incorporating home offices, intergenerational housing (through lived experience) and how utilising modern methods of construction such as greater use of timber can help address climate change.

Vinesh Pomal, DipHE Architecture (2011), Project Architect, TateHindle

The course had a good balance between academia and practice. Not only was I taught how to design projects at varying scales from small cultural buildings through to master planning a community, I learnt in-depth the business side of architecture i.e. professional practice. 

I’ve been able to apply all my knowledge from University during my career and am now a Project Architect for TateHindle: an architectural and design-led practice in Central London. We work on a variety of residential and commercial projects at all scales for public and private sector clients, creating spaces that inspire people to work, learn and create. We establish sustainable communities and design beautiful buildings for everyone to enjoy. 

I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the project from inception to completion including coordinating with the client and consultants, managing the internal project team, reviewing project resourcing and invoicing. I primarily specialise in residential architecture so the main bulk of my work involves designing homes for communities. 

In addition to managing the project, tasks also vary from producing drawings to accompany a planning application, testing design ideas through sketches and in 3D through to working out the technical aspects such as where the bins, bikes and parking goes. 

Quite a lot of my time is also spent in Excel reviewing the accommodation schedule, which is probably one of the most important parts of my job to ensure that all the inputted data is correct to ensure the client can cost the design proposal accordingly. However, no two days are the same and that is the beauty of my job where I will be faced with new challenges (and opportunities!) regularly to resolve. 

I also teach 1 day a week in the first-year design studio at Leicester School of Architecture which I have been doing for the past 6 years and I absolutely love it.

My advice for those looking to get into STEM is...

Be passionate, show enthusiasm and engage with the subject of your choice. Get yourself out there using social media to showcase your work and any other skills (e.g. photography) you may have that are related to the profession. 

Your personal stories of why you want to study a STEM subject are just as important.
I have always been a creative person and enjoy making a difference to people’s lives, whether that’s as a practising architect or through nurturing the next generation. As an architect your role is more than just coming up with a building for your client, you get to understand how people live and inhabit their spaces; knowing you are making a difference to their lives is so rewarding. 

I am a people person and enjoy listening to stories with the hope I can draw out what is most important to them and offer them something more. As an architect, you are a facilitator and always solving challenges which I thrive upon knowing I am fulfilling the needs of the client or the end user.

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