Freeman Albena Atanassova (Above left) and Freeman Helen Taylor (right)

National Apprenticeships Week ran from 3rd to 9th February this year, and the Architect’s Company was delighted when Freemen Helen Taylor and Albena Atanassova offered to host a special Practice visit at Scott Brownrigg’s offices on 4thFebruary to help promote and further embed Architectural Apprenticeships across our Members’ Practices.

Scott Brownrigg is one of the Trailblazer practices that led the development of the Modern Apprenticeship Standard for Architecture, and so we were particularly delighted when Scott Brownrigg offered to host this event in National Apprenticeships Week, to help celebrate the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to our profession.

Helen Taylor, Director of Practice at Scott Brownrigg, said: ‘Architectural Apprenticeships enable Practices to play a key role in shaping the future of architectural education, promoting access to the profession to the next generations whilst increasing diversity and inclusion.’ 

On arrival at Scott Brownrigg’s offices, members were treated to a display of project work by Architecture apprentices Joanna Koning, Steve Jell and Amy Allwood in the entrance foyer – we were all really impressed by the standard of work produced. It was a lovely touch to display project work being delivered by Apprentices but, more importantly, it really demonstrated the positive benefits of Architectural Apprenticeships to both the employer/Practice and the student.

After some drinks and networking, we were then offered a presentation by Helen Taylor who explained how the Apprenticeship Standards were developed in collaboration with a range of Trailblazer Practices, the RIBA and ARB.

The first Architecture Apprenticeships were offered in August 2018 and Helen paid tribute to Foster + Partners who dedicated a full-time member of staff, to help support the Trailblazer group for several months. She also paid tribute to the Mentors in her Practice, who supported the Apprentices on a day-to-day basis in the office.

We heard from two Apprentice Mentors, Dagmar Binsted and Albena Atanassova:

Mentoring apprentices is about learning as much as it is about teaching or rather facilitating teaching and learning. My apprentices teach me every day what it means to learn. A valuable lesson when I sit in client meetings explain a new design or strategy for a development. Passing knowledge on to the next generation is a great privilege and as a mentor I can experience first-hand how the wealth of knowledge we have in our office helps shape this new generation of architects. Mentoring also involves close collaboration with the university team and other mentors on the course. This aspect is incredibly enjoyable and allows a connection of practice and academia that has eluded the profession for many years.”

Dagmar Binsted

Associate Architect and Mentor, Scott Brownrigg

Architecture is a long and expensive endeavour. When only 7% of students who commence an architecture degree go on to become qualified architects, the apprenticeship route offers an alternative accessible gateway to qualification. It also provides the opportunity for us as qualified architects to ‘give back’ and influence architectural training directly.

Albena Atanassova

Associate Architect and Mentor, Scott Brownrigg

It was fascinating to listen to Dagmar and Beni, talking about their roles as Mentors. The programmes are still developing, and there is clearly a steep learning curve for everyone involved. It takes committed and special people to act as Mentors and support Apprentices on a day to day basis, not just in the office but also at University – Dagmar and Beni are wonderful role models.  But the highlight of the evening was undoubtedly hearing testimonies from Amy, Jo and Steve about the fantastic opportunity the Architecture Apprenticeships provide – we really enjoyed listening to them speak.

Steve Jell (left)

I have been working as an Architectural Technician for 6 years now and have been trying to find an appropriate way to make the transition and qualify as an Architect for the last 3 or so. When the Apprenticeship scheme came along it seemed to tick all the boxes for me. I could continue working and developing my skills, portfolio and career while catching up on all the education I’ve felt I was missing for years – not to mention that it gets me past the barrier of extortionate fees that, as a mature student with a previous degree, I’ve had quite a lot of difficulty in circumventing!

Steve Jell

Architectural Apprentice (Level 6)/ RIBA Part I, Scott Brownrigg

Joanna Koning (centre) and Amy Allwood (right), Scott Brownrigg Architectural Apprentices (Level 7)/RIBA Parts 2 and 3

I was attracted to becoming an apprentice through the invaluable opportunity to gain experience alongside studying. Within my team, I have been able to establish skills in new software, take on new design processes and thinking as well understand the role the architect plays in large-scale projects. I have then been able to use this knowledge within my study. In the short time since I have started working, I have already felt a vast amount of support from my design team and wider departments to help me develop my skills and understanding I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.

Joanna Koning

Architectural Apprentice (Level 7)/RIBA Parts 2 and 3, Scott Brownrigg

I feel that an apprenticeship offers me different learning experiences, I can work and study at the same time. The apprenticeship programme provides me with structured training, whilst working towards my qualifications. It helps me gain the skills and knowledge I need for the industry. I can apply my learning directly to my role at work.

Amy Allwood

Architectural Apprentice (Level 7)/RIBA Parts 2 and 3, Scott Brownrigg




Architect’s Company Members spent an interesting and thought-provoking evening at Scott Brownrigg’s Practice and very much enjoyed visiting the offices and meeting the staff – especially the three Architecture Apprentices.

If Helen Taylor and Scott Browrigg are Trailblazers, then there is no doubt these three Apprentices are pioneers! Thank you to Helen Taylor for hosting this special Practice Visit in National Apprenticeships Week and thank you for all Scott Brownrigg is doing to help develop this important new training opportunity for our profession! Finally, thanks also to Luke Tozer from Pitman Tozer for arranging the Architects’ Company 2020 programme of Practice visits.