I started my career as a Structural Engineer, studying at The University of Liverpool and gaining a first class masters degree in Civil and Structural Engineering. I worked for several different engineering consultancies, from the large scale multi disciplinary firm Arup, to smaller local firms.
I excelled in my work, but somehow felt dissatisfied with the buildings I was responsible for. I wanted to design ecological building that were low impact on the environment, beautiful buildings that complimented the landscape they are set in, and that required minimum energy to function.
I returned to my studies at the Centre for Alternative Technology, successfully completing an MSc in Architecture – Environmental and Energy Studies. This was a fantastic course, enabling me to learn a new approach to building design using natural, sustainable materials, and learning the principles of passive building design. During this time I attended a course in straw bale building, I Instantly caught the straw bale building bug – there was no turning back!
In 2010 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work for amazonails as a straw bale building designer. This gave me the ideal opportunity to combine my creative and technical skills to create buildings that I was passionate about. Finally I felt happy and content in my work!
I have continued to work with Barbara and the Straw Works team, and have been involved in a wide range of straw bale buildings, from houses to allotment buildings, each individual and unique in their own right. My experience as an engineer allows me to create buildings that are simple and easy to construct, and ensures that material use is economical, also a very important part in sustainable design.
I broke my back in 2012 and lost the use of my legs, life dramatically changed and I was now a wheelchair user. One of the first buildings I had designed had just been built, and Barbara came and picked me up from the hospital to take me to the opening day. Ironically I got to test the disability access I had designed myself, thankfully I managed to get up the ramp!
As a wheelchair user, I can now approach accessible design from a fresh perspective, and have a greater understanding of the needs of people with disabilities. I am just very lucky that I am still able to continue with the work that I love, creating beautiful, natural healthy homes and buildings that make people feel good. You couldn’t do that with concrete!