Toby Lewin-Lloyd, senior architect at Urbanist Architecture, on how he got started in property, his film and book recommendations, his best and worst purchases and the most interesting fact he knows.
How did you join the industry?
I always had an interest in architecture. At university in South Africa, I studied classical civilisation as a route to getting into architecture. Then, after graduating with an architecture degree in London, I did my RIBA Part 1 qualifications at a company called Weldon Walshe. I completed my RIBA Part 3 at Aros Architects where I stayed for a few years.
What does your job entail?
I’ve recently joined Urbanist Architecture as a director in Greenwich, London. I lead the architecture team and work with our excellent town planning team. Our work is varied in scale, which also keeps things interesting; I’ll switch from designing a housing masterplan to checking a particularly difficult residential extension in the course of a day.
What do you like most about the property industry?
Connecting the dots is an element of my industry that I am passionate about. There is a connectivity to everything we do. Nothing happens in isolation.
It’s a big, wide, exciting world out there and a great time to be part of the property industry.
And what do you dislike most about it?
One of the things I’ve found difficult is the number of regulations. Constraints shouldn’t be a limit to freedom of expression; they should help shape and mould great buildings and great neighbourhoods.
What would you change about the industry?
As a whole, property is not always as responsive to change and adopting new methodologies as other industries. I would like to encourage and promote new and innovative techniques in construction, especially with a focus on sustainability and quality.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
As a student, it was a challenge not only to develop the creative talents and interests I already knew were there but to learn new skills and develop a deeper understanding of architecture itself and construction, all while delivering on my actual day-to-day projects while working. You have to be comfortable juggling lots of conflicting demands to get ahead.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of my first big project at Assael Architecture. There is nothing quite like running your first major project, successfully leading on all the elements of design, inputs from external consultants, negotiating the planning process and developing the details of construction.
What do you value in people?
I value diversity in people. In my view, creativity comes from diversity. When I am hiring I look for skills that are not already reflected in my team. Diversity for me is about people and their individuality.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in property?
Don’t be scared to promote your individuality. It’s OK to raise your head above the parapet and look around and have an opinion. We all learn from each other. As with so many other industries, it’s a really exciting time to be in property: the rulebooks are all changing.