Just graduated from the master architecture in Gent, thrown into the real world and still having only a vague idea about what practising architecture means. I stepped foot in my carrier when I started working as an intern in a Belgian architecture office called Atelier 4. Although this internship already brought me a little closer to the meaning of architecture, my hunger towards exploring the broader meaning was not stilled. For this reason I ended up in Tanzania, joining the C-re-aid office.
Surely I can argue that my perspective on architecture during the last few years has been changed. I believe this is a logical outcome since architecture adapts itself to the context and society where it is located in. But also you, as a human being, change perspective moving from one place to another. For this reason I believe being able to practice your job or even your passion in different environments, whether it is as an architect or as something else, makes you grow in what you do and what you want to become.
When I talk about my personal experience comparing being an architect in Belgium and one in Tanzania, one of the biggest changes was finding the right balance between practical and aesthetical. Working with local craftsman on site it became clear that, they often give priority to what is the most practical and functional thing to do. One could argue that this is a question about having the luxury of being able to build something aesthetically and practically at the same time. Often Tanzanian people relate beautiful buildings too more luxurious Westernized building. Here the role of being a Western architect building in Tanzania becomes interesting. By closely working with local people on site, you constantly try to find a compromise between what is familiar and what is new for them and for you. Ones you find that compromise both parties can learn out of it, conducting a project that explores innovative ways of building combining the practical with the aesthetical.