A global citizen

A global citizen add

25 year old graduate architect, Natalee Tan, says she is absorbing as much as she can, as fast as she can… "While I'm young there's still the enthusiasm to change the world," she laughs.

When Defign blog checked in on Natalee - who a few years back was lucky enough to win a private masterclass with Pete Bossley courtesy of ADNZ - it's clear she is head down 100% focused on her work. And a far cry from the social media absorbed stereotype often associated with young people.

Natalee says she is thoroughly enjoying the workplace culture at Mitchell & Stout Architects based in Auckland.

"I'm still not confident in the working environment but I tell myself 'take baby steps'. That's what I like about architecture - the constant learning. My boss says he is still learning at age 75."

Natalee's heritage is helping to shape her experience of New Zealand Design and Architecture. She is Chinese and was born in New Zealand. Her family immigrated to Malaysia when she was three years old and she later returned to New Zealand for University studies.

While most of the projects Natalee has worked on are largely unbuilt, she has had exposure to a wide variety of public and private buildings, large and small scale housing developments as well as presentation work.

"In Malaysia I worked mainly on large scale residential apartments and developments; it's much more homogenous and repetitive. It's more about economy and increasing profit, benefiting those of the upper class but negating the wellbeing of the lower class. I'm learning how an architecture firm should be, I see my bosses get stubborn and stand up for what they think is right. While you study about ethics at university, it's something else to see it in practice in the workplace."

A stand out project Natalee has worked on is a visitor's centre for an archeology site based in China.

"It's a tensile structure which took just two and a half months to build. I know…amazing! I was the most involved as I was able to work the programme - it was mostly mathematical and computer based. And also while my Mandarin is not great - it certainly helped!" laughs Natalee.

Natalee sees potential in New Zealand to be more liberal in design.

"We're still a bit conservative. I went to a lecture which pointed out in New Zealand our building regulations are shaped more by our neighbours instead of for natural disasters for example. And as a relatively new country where we are still shaping our architectural identity, we have the perfect environment to push for innovation. That's why I would like to stay here because there is so much opportunity."