An aspiring Norwich architect shortlisted for an international award for research into animal enclosures at zoos is calling on more young people to apply for “amazing” apprenticeships.
Priyanka Shah is studying towards a Level 7 Architecture Apprenticeship, equivalent to a master’s degree, at Norwich property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood and London South Bank University.
She was a finalist at this month’s Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) President’s Medals 2021, the annual awards for the world’s best architecture student projects, for her dissertation entitled ‘London Zoo: The Display of Animals Within the Anthropocene’.
As part of her research into the development of animal enclosures over the past century, she studied Gorilla Kingdom and Penguin Beach – “the disfunction of postmodern architectural idol enclosures” – at the zoo and how they relate to the “principles of the human-centralised environment”, known as the anthropocene.
Priyanka, 27, an Architectural Assistant at Ingleton Wood, which is sponsoring her four-year apprenticeship, said: “I was very proud to have been shortlisted alongside world-leading student architecture and see my work join the RIBA President’s Medals archive.
“I’ve always cared for animals but we won’t ever fully understand all of their needs as they would be in the wild. But as we learn more, we need to adapt our zoos accordingly. This means current designs need to include the potential to be adapted repeatedly in the future.
“I think my thesis raises a lot of questions without answering many of them, but I’ve proposed some ideologies and would love to collaborate with researchers.”
Priyanka, who previously gained an undergraduate degree from Norwich University of the Arts, explained how she got into architecture: “Growing up, I undertook multiple work experiences in the built environment which solidified my passion to pursue this career. Maths and physics were also my favourite subjects, and so architecture combined my best skills.”
She added: “Architects leave their imprint on the planet. It’s really close to my heart now. There’s also been a big push towards sustainability over the last decade. So many problems can be solved with good architecture and sustainability is definitely one of them – making a building more efficient and using the latest technology to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Priyanka is on track to complete her Level 7 Architecture Apprenticeship – only the UK’s third cohort for the new qualification – and become a fully qualified architect in 2022.
“It’s been a challenging but amazing experience and I wholeheartedly recommend this pathway,” she said. “I get to work at Ingleton Wood four days a week and attend London South Bank University one day a week. I get the best of both worlds while earning a salary.
“The quality of my work has vastly improved through being surrounded by Ingleton Wood’s teams who give me constant feedback and encouragement. In the palm of my hand, I’ve got 20-year experts who I can quickly ask questions and get over hurdles much quicker.
“At university full-time, you’re all in the same boat with the same level of knowledge, and while you can design great concepts, will they work in reality? Creativity is important but you need to know how things are built. That’s also what sets us apart. Getting heavily involved in real-life projects at Ingleton Wood and getting that insight has been so beneficial in this way.
“I’ve also built up my confidence after presenting to clients and I’ve developed my time-management skills by having to organise my weekends and evenings to study.”
To see Priyanka’s dissertation entry, visit www.presidentsmedals.com/Entry-17610.
For anyone interested in apprenticeship opportunities at Ingleton Wood, or to speak to someone about working in construction, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Priyanka Shah, studying towards a Level 7 Architecture Apprenticeship at Ingleton Wood, was a finalist at the 2021 RIBA President’s Medals international student awards.
Priyanka’s digital sketches for her London Zoo dissertation which studied the development of animal enclosures over the past century.