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From Plans to Completion

Old Girl Sophie Hamer has the building blocks for success.

Sophie, who attended QMC from 2000 to 2006, had strong family links to the College.

“My Grandmother and her sister are both old girls and I remember looking through her historic books on QMC as a very young girl and feeling quite enamoured by the old photographs showing the community of inspiring young women clustered around the tower.”

A Lochleven supporter, Sophie was involved in a number of activities across the arts and sports at school, from debating and chorale to tennis and sports academy and was a joint recipient of the award for Best All-Rounder in Year 13 and joint Dux.

 “QMC has a great sense of community which always invited a range of voices, supported individual thinking, and celebrated overlaps or differences in knowledge and skills,” Sophie says.

“I always felt valued, and I always had a sense of being able to give anything a go in that environment – which isn’t so much a lesson, but an attitude I try to carry with me now.’

Sophie had a lot of potential careers in mind while at school but decided to study architecture just a few weeks before starting university.

She went to the School of Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington and completed a Bachelor of Architectural Studies, and then a Master of Architecture (Professional) with Distinction.

“As part of my studies I also threw in a Creative Writing course at the International Institute of Modern Letters and some French papers, and spent some time at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris.”

In the first year after completing her Masters degree, Sophie worked full time at the university teaching across a range of courses in the architecture school, from the technical side of architecture to the design and research aspects.

She also had the opportunity as a Teaching Fellow to write, direct and deliver a course about Design Communication to about 50 students – an experience that really cemented her interest in architectural education.

She started her professional career as a graduate at a small, practice in Wellington and was exposed to many parts of the building process.

“Architecturally, seeing my first building built was always going to be a milestone,” Sophie says.

“Every time you see what you have drawn, detailed and worried about take shape in reality is a rush.”

Sophie now lives in Auckland working at Fearon Hay Architects as a design team leader and is involved in a range of exciting projects – residential, multi-residential, heritage, commercial – from the excitement of concept, working with consultants and clients, right through to achieving compliance with building code and getting on site.

“I am still an architectural graduate and can’t call myself an architect until I undertake the registration process, which involves a written case study of projects so you can demonstrate your range of experience, and a 3 hour conversation with a panel,” Sophie says.

“That’s the next goal.”

Alongside this, Sophie is a Professional Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland, where she leads a third year architecture design studio paper.

“I also run a website for aspiring architects called PORTICO which provides information about studying architecture, what the possible career pathways are, and gives an inside glimpse into what happens at architecture school and in practice,” Sophie explains.

“It’s intended as a support and resource for high school and university students which is basically a compendium of my knowledge and thoughts from studying, teaching and now practising.”

Sophie’s advice for students would be to pay attention to what makes you feel most like yourself – and pursue it relentlessly.

“But also identify your weaknesses, and try to be aware of how your weaknesses interplay with your strengths.”

“Things are changing fast in the professional world, and you’ll be well placed if you can think entrepreneurially and make opportunities for yourself.”