Building Foundations: Anna Webster

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Today we chat to Anna Webster, Interrobang’s newest fully qualified Architect. She works with Orkidstudio to engage young women in vocational skills within the construction industry, squeezes in yoga and runs during her lunch hour and is an active member of the ‘Circular Economy Task Force’. We find out how she fits it all in.

Why did you choose architecture as a career?

I’m not one of those people who has always known what they want to do when they grow up. In fact, when I was a child, I planned to be a painter on a Monday, a swimmer on a Tuesday, a den-builder on a Wednesday, a horse rider on a Thursday, and a fashion designer on a Friday. I ended up studying architecture because my tutor at art college suggested it. I hadn’t considered it as option for me before then as I didn’t have A levels in maths and physics (don’t tell the engineers!) 

Tell us about the ‘Circular Economy Task Force’. As an SME, what steps is Webb Yates Engineers taking to mitigate its carbon impact?

The task force has been established in response to the current climate crisis in order to ensure that we take every opportunity in our projects to mitigate our impact on the environment. We try to keep up to date with sustainable construction methods and analyse past and present projects to ensure that we are making ethical decisions throughout all stages of each project.

Which Interrobang project are you most proud of and why?

Hackney Arts Centre (EartH). It’s an amazing existing building with a lot of character (and surprises!). Watching Leanne La Harvas perform in the theatre shortly after its opening was a very proud moment for me. I have visited on a few occasions since then and friends of mine who are filmmakers and singers have performed and worked in there. It feels great to have been involved in bringing such an incredible venue back into use.

What do you think the benefits are of working in a small transdisciplinary architecture and engineering firm, intertwined in a larger engineering practice?

It’s probably the best thing about working at Interrobang. It means we are always learning from each other and can take on a real variety of ambitious and interesting projects. It’s kind of the architectural equivalent of being a painter on a Monday, a swimmer on a Tuesday, a den-builder on a Wednesday, a horse rider on a Thursday, and a fashion designer on a Friday.

What country would you love to do an architectural pilgrimage to and why?

Probably Japan. There are a lot of interesting contemporary buildings in Tokyo and other cities, but I would also love to visit the more rural areas and hillside villages to see some of the Shinto shrines and traditional domestic buildings.

I would also love to see the annual rendering of the Djenne Mosque in Mali – it’s the largest earth building on earth which is repaired every year by the entire community – the external walls even have built-in scaffolding to enable this.

What are your ambitions for the future? 

I would like to build up my portfolio of work on heritage buildings and work towards accreditation as a conservation architect.