Alvin Zhu, Projects by People

In this week’s podcast it was great to speak to Alvin about what Projects by People is all about – the highs and lows of producing content as well as us both feeling lost in Architecture sometimes. Come along for the journey and check out Projects By People on instagram here:



Transcript (via

Transcript (Raw Text)

Stephen Drew 0:07
Hi, everyone I am Stephen Drew from the art teacher social. And I am back with the podcast. We were in for a real treat. Nice little treat going into next week, I am joined here by Alvin and out in his projects by people projects by people is something that you SAP Alvin. And the first time I saw it was on Instagram, but a How are you? You? Well?

Alvin Zhu 0:33
Yeah, I’m good. Thank you. I’m very good. Stephens good to good to be here.

Stephen Drew 0:37
So you’re literally around the globe, right. So you’re in a well, part of Australia you live in right now.

Alvin Zhu 0:43
So I’m from Brisbane, Australia. If if you know where that is? Yeah.

Stephen Drew 0:49
Okay. So I’ve never been to Australia. So never, I’ve never been I’ve never been. So we’re kind of going for I’m going off kill we should this should be this should be an attitude podcast. Where am I? What am I talking about geography. All right. Awesome. So you studied in Queensland. So I’m going to bring it back in as so we’re going to, I’m going to put down the globe. And we’ll talk about how we first met. So I found when I was setting up the architecture social, I was looking around online, and that is the power of online because you you see different blogs, different people from all different parts of the world, and projects by people kind of caught my eye because it’s a really interesting, I guess you can call it what concepts are really interesting showcase of people’s work. And I think there’s a lot of really good and interesting things. And he shows me a lot of interesting people’s work is actually one of the inspirations for how I go about my Instagram page. But you want to for anyone listening, then do you want to explain a little bit about what projects by people is about?

Alvin Zhu 1:56
Yeah, definitely. So I might just tell, I might just add some context and give you a bit of the story behind why I started,

Stephen Drew 2:05
please, because I’ve just banged on about Brisbane, so we need to bring it back. I need to get this back on track before I get pulled off there.

Alvin Zhu 2:14
So, yeah, but I mean, if at any point, at any point, you feel like I’m rambling, just, you know, let me know.

Stephen Drew 2:20
Now you’re quite concise as me that’s why I’m blinking ahead.

Alvin Zhu 2:24
Okay, so. So after, after I graduated my bachelor’s in 2018. Now I was in I was in a really weird place, I felt like, I hadn’t actually achieved very much in the three years, and I spent a lot of time reflecting on you know, what, I’d actually gone out of the degree, and it kept coming back to the same thing. So, you know, I felt like,

Stephen Drew 2:56
okay, so Okay. We’re, it’s, we’re all friends here. Yay, you and the virtual listeners out there, right?

Alvin Zhu 3:04
Yeah, yeah. So I came out of architecture school not wanting to practice architecture at all. Okay. And, you know, it was a really tough time. But despite all of the, you know, rough patches, it was one thing that really stood out from my experience at architecture school. And that was the chance that I got to go on exchange to Milan in my second year. And, you know, I was, I’m really, really grateful that I got that opportunity to meet people from different parts of the world. And it really helped me grow as a person.

Stephen Drew 3:38

Alvin Zhu 3:39
when I realised that I was one of the very lucky few that actually got to go on an exchange programme, I started to think about, you know, the fact that I was one out of 10 people in my cohort, that actually got to go. And a lot of people talked about wanting to go but for whatever reason, it was always, you know, something, stopping them, whether it was financial problems, or family issues, or maybe just limited spots, which I think is a real shame, because I think everyone deserves that opportunity. I think it’s something really special and even though it’s probably impossible to replicate the experience of travelling, I think that experience of meeting people is something that is definitely possible. You know, it’s something that you can do through social media. And, you know, it gives you the chance to meet people from outside of your studio that’s sort of your university outside of your country. And the vision for projects by people was to kind of create a global community, which would become kind of like an online studio and you know, takes all the good parts of studio culture. And I mean, this is kind of funny because, you know, a lot of studios now are online. You I figured, why not try and build a community that actually focuses on the people behind the projects? Because you know, there’s so many pages out there that really focused on projects. And I kind of wanted to shift the focus back to the people, their hobbies, their interests, and hopefully through like a mutual interest, or maybe conversation starters, people could connect. And, you know, these people might have never met otherwise. So yeah, that was that’s it.

Stephen Drew 5:33
I love it. I mean, and we touched upon it briefly before this. And when I talked about it’s Yes, it is interesting to hear Thomas Edward talk about his projects, they’re amazing projects, I just think there’s a lot of people that in my job, I’ve spoken to, for instance, people that work alongside someone like Thomas that helps projects get realised and, and in the outreach community, you do speak to a lot of students, and they will have fantastic works. And actually finding someone even at the beginning and the middle. And the end of their career is very interesting. But you talked about a few things there, which resonate with me. So the first thing is you talked about not wanting to do architecture, which is really interesting. And because I studied architecture, and now I do recruitment, as well as the architecture, social, that’s more of a passion point, which kind of weaves into my professional work. But and it comes from architecture, because I love architecture. When I came out of architecture school, I worked at amazing architectural practice. And over a few years, it was a strange feeling, I thought where I was like, Huh, I don’t want to continue being an architect, I like architecture. And I remember at the time feeling like that was wrong. And I almost felt slightly embarrassed to mention it to people, because it was kind of a strange thing. Because I was building up to be registered an architect. So I did the degree in Diploma in the UK, which is five years. And I did work in two or three years in industry. And everyone was kind of getting to that point where like, So when are you going to do the course to qualify? And I kept making excuses, because at the time, I was, like, yeah, I’m just gonna focus on me right now and all this stuff. But in my head, I was a little bit embarrassed because I felt like I had a problem, and I couldn’t work out the best way to go. And what I’ve learned since then, and this is the power of speaking to people like yourself and others is that this is actually more common occurrence than we all think. And actually, if people embrace that feeling, you can still have a great career and architecture. So for instance, a good example I use all the time I’ve got into recruitment. Another great example, though, is journalism or media. So you get a lot of marketing companies, which is focused on architecture, and coming from an architectural background, it is a massive how so there’s one that’s from the UK, one’s called in medium, once Carol communications of a friend, that will prove me I was her boss in recruitment, she went from recruitment, to, to communication. So I wanted to flesh that out a bit because it doesn’t get talked about enough. And so where you’re at right now, do you still quite know the answer yet? Or are you kind of working our way you want to go with with your, your architectural qualifications and what you want to do, Alvin?

Alvin Zhu 8:30
Yeah, so I think after, I guess, the last year that in a bit off, I think I really figured it out, because I gave myself time to kind of explore different avenues. And I would just go back a bit to like, when I graduated architecture school, you know, like I said, I came out not wanting to practice, but the one thing that I did come out really proud of was one project. And it wasn’t actually an architectural project. It was a video I filmed for the end of your exhibition. And that was, I think, the best project I did through university. And, you know, through that process, I interviewed a bunch of students. You know, I was filming all day in the studio, and I really fell in love with filmmaking.

Stephen Drew 9:23
Okay, yeah.

Alvin Zhu 9:25
That’s where I’m at now. I’ve I’ve taken that then I’ve been volunteering for the Australian Institute of Architects. I’ve been filming some projects for them. You know, for projects by people, I’ve been working on some film projects. I, like you know, the film side. The production side, I guess, for the Mad collective and I’ve really, really enjoy it.

Stephen Drew 9:50
I can tell I mean, it looks good. The med collective looks good. Alongside what you said though, I have a friend that I studied with the good friend of mines called Wilma. Daniel and he went to Oxford Brookes University in the UK. And they have a quite a high focus on then people experiments. And they had a similar thing where they were in part of the studio that will went into was video focused. And so it kind of sparked his passion for it. So ever since I know and well, and I’m going to get him on as a guest. He’s a big YouTube announcer for like, what goes library on. But basically, we’ve got like half a million subscribers now. But it comes from his weird and wonderful passion. And so his channel is willing MK D. And if you look into it, he makes all these weird and cool, interesting concepts. He writes the scripts, and he makes these models of monsters. And that was all inspired by him experimented in architecture. And another thing I’d like the reason I bring this up to talk about what you do, as well as because I think we underestimate that the the course in architecture offers so many skills, right? And I’ve learned that actually, I think one of the reasons why a I’ve always been interested in architecture, but in terms of what the course has offered me, through studying it, I am much better presenting apart from the intro to this podcast, where I’m learning I’m learning, but it’s that ability to go out there and try things and improve the formula. And so part of what you’re doing project by people, that process of design, I think comes from you. But that’s what you’ve learned in architecture. And I think the way I don’t have a problem speaking in front of people, I used to get very nervous all the time that’s changed. And I think that comes from architecture school is the concept of a crit Isn’t that where you will get bashed down if we haven’t thought about it. And actually, when you go up there with a concise idea, and you fight that resistance, you you grow from it. So there’s loads of ways where the career and architecture can go. The other point that I wanted to bring up because he talked about earlier, which resonates with me, is you talking about travelling now, I went and had a recruitment business. And it was quite stressful a few years ago. I mean, I lead the recruitment team now. But I used to own my own business. And I remember specifically during that time, I’d make a lot of excuses not to go travelling. I’m too busy. Because you know, you mentioned that people were giving excuses. I’m too busy to run a business go through all this stuff. And it was a bit of a shame. When I look back. And I think the last year or two at my work, they used to tease me going, where are you flying this week, Steve, but a year or two, I prefer the moment of like, I’m going to be dead one day, and I’d like to see the world and to resonate what you were talking about. And I found it really enriching them as well. I came back from travelling you meet different people, you go on adventures, and you’ll learn about yourself because I remember I was going last year I was supposed to go on holiday with a friend. And right before him. He had an accident. Okay. And then I asked, and then he was like, he’s okay. Don’t worry about get on the plane. And I was like, I’m gonna have to go but myself, Well, what am I gonna do? And I saw the total mini freakout and then I went and he was fine. And I made friends. And you learned that you can do things on your own. So travel is really enriching then, I mean, it’s a bit of a strange time now with the virus. Yeah. Oh, yeah. What’s your kind of plans for the next of you for about? Do you want to continue travelling? Do you want to continue the blog? Or I’m quite keen to learn what you’re interested in, in the next step? Or maybe you don’t know. And that’s fine, too. It’d be interesting to hear your thoughts.

Alvin Zhu 13:55
Well, in terms of travelling, I guess one of the things one of the setbacks that I have now is money, but besides a pandemic, but also, I will be moving to Sydney next year for my masters. So I’ve actually gone back to study my masters in architecture, which I started this week. Yeah, I’m moving to Sydney. So I guess that’s

Stephen Drew 14:25
I think that’s awesome. I never been to Sydney but it looks amazing. And I think masters can be really enrich them because you kind of focus masters. There’s a certain level of Yes, there’s a there’s a syllabus project, but it really is that level where it’s down to what you want, right? And then where you want to take it. So Alright, so you’re doing your masters. What do you think? What is it like jugglin? Because you’ve got about 5000 followers on Instagram, okay. And there’s also I’ve learned that with all these things, as a cert, you probably have your own Post scheduling and there’s a lot of work that goes involved in a you’ve got to edit people files, they send you a JPEG, which is too big, too small, you find it doesn’t work in my world lately. Like, please send me a certain size. But there’s a lot of work involved in this. And how do you find juggling online tools? With the web studying ever you? Because Did you do it before and you’re going to do it again? Or?

Alvin Zhu 15:28
I’ve just started actually. So you know, we’ll see if it gets worse. But for now,

Stephen Drew 15:35
I have to calm down.

Alvin Zhu 15:37
I mean, the study plan, or for me is kind of extended, like I’ve, no, I’m in no rush to finish the degree. So I decided to make it three years instead of two. Because I really do want time to work on other things like I don’t want to just drop everything I’ve done to focus on studying because I don’t think it’s worth it. I think there needs to be a balance. Whether or not I can actually hold up, I’m not sure because you know, it’s first week, nothing’s really happened. But

Stephen Drew 16:11
wherever happens is fine. And why is another because I love the fact that we can talk about architecture, but at the same time, because you’re a content creator, there is a little element that I find interesting with that because as architects, we always want to showcase our work, we want to showcase our projects. And you know, you if you’ve even if you’re a student, you at the end of the year, you need to showcase your project to win a job or to gain attention. And what’s interesting about Instagram is it’s a fantastic tool. It does require a bit of commitment. And so and we were joking about it earlier, where I can be having a dinner in the evening, and whoever I’m with can be a bit frustrated that I’m on my phone sometimes and so you have to get a bit of a balance. Have you ever felt though sometimes that it’s almost like a second job? It’s amazing what you’ve done. But with that, it takes up your time. Right? Yeah, I mean, how would you feel behind the scenes is rewarding. But do you as well, like me get a bit cautious can be a lot of work sometimes.

Alvin Zhu 17:18
I’m definitely definitely i’ve you know, okay, yeah. No, no, no, no, no. I think I think you know, that’s, that’s really common. I guess it’s just I took a lot of time off this year away from the platform, just because, you know, at some point, it just feels like too much.

And, yeah,

Stephen Drew 17:43
yeah, I think it gets that. And that’s what I’ve learned because Burnley other hand, there’s something really fun about doing it. And I think it’s about moderation. And I spoke to a really interesting chap yesterday, his name is Sean, and he is a LinkedIn instructor adores by LinkedIn and he does Revit courses. And he we were talking about how he will do all nighters and I’ve done all my as my bet you do all that you’ve done all my involved on them, right. And this kind of sometimes it’s the architects Curse of I’m not curse is that is like the fountain pen is the film and there’s that famous scene where the building is going to go ahead and the architects like we’re not going to do it like that, I’m going to fix it, and then the camera comes back and it’s shows a shot of him passed out on the desk in buildings done. And there is something noble about that. But there is something also I think, self destructive. So there’s the balance of because life is awesome. So you want to travel, it’s super enriched then. And actually where I’m going with this is that the travel and your experiences doing that will then give a new second will give a perspective on your which will improve your architecture. Okay, having a break away from things will improve your architecture, and then having a break away from your social media. You will then love the social you will love your channel when you do it because either you get the thrill out of it. I find that I understand that when you’re actually doing these things where responsibility it’s really hard to constantly manage the responsibilities without one tipping over. sorry I’ve been there Yeah. What What would your advice be to anyone that’s balancing a few responsibilities or like yourself Scott a successful platform? Would you any any particular poser wisdom

Alvin Zhu 19:44
I don’t know that I’m probably the last person who asked for advice because you know, I kind of just disappeared

Stephen Drew 19:50
for a bit and I’m not happy with this. I’m gonna get out my my back. Down in the UK that means like you Completely underselling yourself, you’re definitely not the last person to ask because you’ve got an amazing channel, you’re really nice guy, and you really helpful to a lot of people. So if

Alvin Zhu 20:12
if I were to give advice it would be to really remember that, you know, taking a step back is okay. Because for me, sometimes I feel really bad. When I when I want to take a break, I feel like, you know, this is my responsibility. Now I have to keep going or let people down. But you know, people understand that a person is running the page, and it’s okay to just step back sometimes.

Stephen Drew 20:41
Yeah, I think that makes sense. Well, it’s quite interesting that you’re that you’re doing the Masters now, I think that things change. And I tell you in their little story about me is that I remember when I was on my third year of architecture, and it’s just about the finish of third years, they the first part of the degree, and I remember it was just about to finish. And I had a complete freak out. And I remember I saw the university counselling. So I was like, Is anything? What am I going to do? I don’t know what the next chapter is. But then when I finished and then I started looking for a job and went to the next chapter, suddenly, things overtime started to become okay. And you adjust to it, but it’s like your masters. And then I think you could totally get sucked in and gross and things can change. And the end, what I quite like, as well as the little bit like that. I’ve noticed there’s subtle changes with your, with the project by people which have changed over time, you’ve introduced new infographics, you introduced new ways to go about it. I think that’s important, though, to constantly evolve the platform. Do you have any plans for where you want to take care? Or? Right now you’re quite happy with where it’s at?

Alvin Zhu 21:51
That’s a good question, actually. Because I’m currently in the process of making a pretty big change, I think, you know, for quite a while. I was really dissatisfied with a platform, not because you know, it wasn’t doing a good job, but I just think it could be doing a better job. And, you know, like I said earlier, the goal has always been to connect people to try and get conversations going. And it slowly became less about, you know, the people and it became more about people just wanting to showcase their work.

Stephen Drew 22:31
So I Oh, that’s interesting. I’m going to talk about this point for a second, because I think you’re up to something here. And I’ve noticed that as well. Were just to post stuff up.


I think sometimes I’ve seen a good example would be a Revit course. Okay. Does the person want to study it to learn and improve their them? Or do they want that piece of paper at the end? I think there’s a little culture that sometimes and when actually, I’ve done it before, remember, I signed up to a course before and really, I just wanted the certification. This was years ago, I kind of look back and I was like, I wish I went to more of the classes Stephen Drew, you were an idiot. But yeah, because the point of the class is that you’re in the class and you learn, and you engage with other people, you make friends. And from that you, you gain experience and you gain you just improve? Or maybe you don’t you haven’t you gain an opinion, you go I did it this way, I learned this, this failed. And from that that is the real value, not the PDF page. And not the not the not the certificate that comes with it. And so my question is, is it so with your tool, it’s really going to showcase in awareness. How do you keep engagement with these things, then? You know, so it’s like, I have it on the social as well, where the architecture social is amazing when conversation goes. And so I’m trying to actively push everyone to chat with each other. And when and one of the interesting things that came out of that is that someone messaged me the other day, and they were like, Oh, well, I actually spoke to someone on the platform. And we both like tennis. So we went to play the game of tennis, and I was like, That is amazing. I was like, that’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve heard on there. Okay. And, and that’s what I wonder is so with Instagram, how much of the Instagram so Instagram is great for promoting awareness and this is like LinkedIn. But you can get lost into the algorithm and you can get lost with the feed and what I’m where I’m trying to go with this is like, how do you retain substance and get people Talking and get people involved. And the and it not becoming something with something post they work and then they flitter off somewhere else.

Alvin Zhu 25:11
You know, that’s that’s something I’ve been trying to figure out for.

Stephen Drew 25:16
I was kind of open for an answer. I was like, that’s a really unreasonable question because they everyone’s working out. Isn’t the recall, though, Isn’t that it? Is

Alvin Zhu 25:23
it is it? You know, I guess what I’ve always tried to do is, you know, freshen things up, try something new, something different. Hopefully, it works. Because, you know, I’ve tried so many different, no different initiatives, and whatever, through projects by people. And they all

Stephen Drew 25:42
hang out. Like that, though. Failure is so important. I do stuff all the time in the social, which doesn’t work. And it really reiterates it, because actually, what I like about projects by people is that it’s focused on everyone, anyone can submit their work, and it is great for ideas, because you kind of get a raw feeling for someone’s work. And I guess that’s why on the architecture, social Instagram, I like that. The work on that is from people within the community. But yours is quite nice as in, anyone can submit they work and you get to see the person and the work involved. So maybe, is, is that enough for? Because you’re quite ambitious? Do you want to take it another level? Where projects by people comes into something else?

Alvin Zhu 26:26
Yeah, that’s what I’m working on right now. Actually, you know, a year ago, I had the idea to kind of get people to submit videos of themselves speaking and stuff like that. But back then it was kind of weird. But nowadays, it seems like it’s a perfect time to get that started. Because everyone’s using zoom. Everyone’s on, you know, Google Hangouts, or whatever. So the change I’m making now is to transition into not an interview style format, but it’s more of a video cover thing. So instead of just, it’s a video, I’ll conduct a really quick interview, through zoom or whatever, with people. And then they’ll pretty much be answering similar questions. And, you know, the community will get to know them a bit better than just seeing the picture.

Stephen Drew 27:17
Oh, wait, is that what I agreed to do? Are you gonna make the first one out of and I’m gonna mess it up. Hi,

Alvin Zhu 27:22
I recorded a few. So

Stephen Drew 27:27
time a 12. That though, I love that, because you think you touched on a I haven’t seen them. So it’s interesting. But what you’re kind of doing is you’re talking about kind of the plaza, the interesting bit of the credit without being there for six hours, and your soul slowly evaporating, the day to watch so many of them you’re like, I don’t know, at this point, just let get me on it. I kind of like that. Because what’s interesting, where you’re talking about with video is that, um, pitchers is easy, it’s successful, you don’t need bandwidth, but you’re right video, you pick up emotion and tone, or audio as well. So it could even be whether you’re talking about whether it’s audio, and you’ve got the pictures. Now, I think that’s really cool. Because you get a sense of emotion and you get a sense of the person. And with video, that’s also quite interesting as well. I do think that’s the kind of a step up and then actually, what I’m, I like about that because it plays upon what I was, you know, earlier, I was like devil’s advocate was like, I like what you do, but for some people put an image to a really caring now imagine, right? Actually, if they’re going to do a video, then I like that, because the person’s got to get a bit more involved, they got to read, if they’re not passionate about their project, it’s going to be so transparent. And so, and therefore, you get a glimpse into the person, that’s probably going to be bad for the job searches and everything. So I do think that’s a really good suggestion. Actually, it kind of breaks the whole pattern of picture after picture just for pictures, even though I quite liked the pictures, but you know what I mean?

Alvin Zhu 29:04
Yeah, I know. exactly what you mean. It’s It’s exciting. Like, this is the first time I’ve been excited for anything on projects by people in quite a while. So yeah.

Stephen Drew 29:17
I’m yeah, I think it’s great. And that’s why I’m actually encouraging you. So positivity bell. I love that. Guy. Remember though, as well as I think that we all can and I do the same sometimes some I look back at some of my work, and I’m like, ah, I shouldn’t change that. Now. I should have changed that or I’m like, Oh, I wouldn’t do that like now. Well, I’ve kind of had to start learning is that you have to realise where you were at the time and projects by people. And it’s like everything a good concept. Start simple. And then you evolve it over time and certain things work certain things done. If you didn’t get people on and we you didn’t test the concept of people showcasing their work, then you wouldn’t get to this point where you could evolve it. So Actually in what you’re talking about, to me makes a good evolvement. And you shouldn’t, we shouldn’t look back, right as in. So as an example I used last week, it’s like I’ve done a few thumbnails and the the the audio for the first few of these that I done before I got a proper microphone and all this stuff was awful. And I ran with it, because there’s a little part of me that before I would have gone back and gone, or can we remaster these or re tweak these? But the point is, people really, I think the substance in there was good. And actually, if I play around with it, I’m messing with the old formula. And actually, why don’t I just re invent the new one, get new thumbnails and experiment where they change how things work. And this is the same thing on the social way, as well, actually, let’s talk about one that we talked about, we were involved in, because when I started it, I thought, oh, it’d be amazing to get all the super cool influencers groups on the social. And it was a great idea. And everyone I asked was up for it. But then what happens is you learn I my kind of thoughts is that it’s a bit of a repeat of what you guys were doing, and therefore it becomes almost a burden. And it wasn’t that interesting. So I like Sandra’s group, because she kind of plays with it. And we were you know, certainly from the Mad collective. Yeah. Very, very impressive. Young lady driven, ambitious break, I don’t know how she does it. I

Alvin Zhu 31:31
mean, I would love to,

Stephen Drew 31:33
I need to bottle it into a potion, and I think, a lot of money, a great group. But then what I learned is that it was almost like taking the joy out of it and making another chore, another platform and never. And so actually, the more I think about it, is that with the groups based upon that, what I’m going to try and do so the thing that I’m going to try and focus on and maybe if we do another one of these, you can be like Steve, did you do it on is that with the groups, what I’d like is to get all the universities involved, and a place for people, because right now you’ve got some groups on Facebook, some student unions, and everything’s fragmented. But when they be a really cool idea for all the universities around the world to to be kind of in a loose platform together, but have their own bubbles. offer something that has an offer conversation that people place for people to talk, because I think that hasn’t been done. Whereas asking you out in in your busy schedule to repeat your project is kind of like, soul destroying. Get me out of you. And I’m a celebrity get me out of the jungle. Mean, and and yeah, but I didn’t have those conversations and learn from seeing what works and what doesn’t, what people did and what didn’t do, then I wouldn’t have got to that. And it wasn’t like, avid, you haven’t done anything and say, Hey, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t do that. It’s more like, Okay, why not? And then oh, it’s because it’s not that engaging? Or is not that interesting? Because you’re actually rehashing like another battlefields what’s already there? So, failure is important. And actually, on that note, like, go Be careful. I feel like pressing this battle all the time. So how can you present? I think if you’re not out there, and you’re not failing, then you’re not going forward. And I think I mean, look at it this way, right? Probably should be, but I’m subscribed, there’s so many people that subscribes. And then, by rejigging the formula and growing it, you actually got a nice core audience? And I think the audience is there, because actually, things are, I mean, I’m not subscribed to Instagram, just for the sake of it. And if I didn’t like it in my feed that wouldn’t be there. So there’s something good there. I mean, are you quite proud of it? You must be right.

Alvin Zhu 33:54
Yeah, I, I really am because I, you know, it’s one of those things where, like you said, there’s like a core audience. And those are the people that really, you know, constantly keep up. And sometimes when they reach out and say, Oh, I loved what you did here. I loved what you did that, you know, it’s nice to get to get, I guess, the feedback from the people that you want to that you’re making the content for, you know, so I really enjoyed that part of it. And I think early on, more so than now, it really did kind of do what I was hoping it would do like people were connecting, asking about projects and stuff. So I hope to bring that back soon.

Stephen Drew 34:41
I love them. All right. Great. And so you’ve got your course and you’ve got projects people amazing I actually am you are what you are the one of the top precedents for the architecture, social and Instagram. So take that as a compliment. So we can say Hopefully I haven’t caught up with you. And I’ve kind of got my own DNA in there. But if you was in inspiration for it, because I was like, well, rather than post generic stuff, or why don’t I post stuff in the community, and that’s what I took from it is that projects from people I liked a was by people. And so with the social, if you’re the architecture, social, if you’re on there, and you want to showcase your work, then great. That’s, that’s what it’s for. Because it’s feeding off. The interesting part. And the bit I kind of like is that it’s for the community. So if you’re on there, and you are someone engaging, then you want to showcase your work, then I’ll post that. And I think that helps push the conversation, and by what you do in the showcase and other people’s work, which maybe wouldn’t have seen the light of day, because they are not Mr. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, or, you know, they, they are not famous yet, or what have you is really, really good to showcase these ideas. So, on that note, I think that’s been really interesting. Have you got any questions? For me, I’ll try to turn the table around some questions. But,

Alvin Zhu 36:11
um, you know, I actually went so Sanatana by the architect, architecture, social, and she told me about a host so excited, because, you know, it kind of ticked all the boxes for what I wanted projects by people to be initially like, but it was just so much better, because it was its own thing. And I mean, I guess I want to ask, What is your goal for it in the long term or short term?

Stephen Drew 36:41
Okay, I think it’s the same way when insurance I should plan a bit more, right. So I was listening this today, to really nice individual who’s a mentor in the UK called Jason Boyle. And he’s like a nuclear architect. And he sent me as the podcast this morning, I was listening to it. And he talked about a one year plan, a five year plan and 10 year plan, and I’m gonna, I’m gonna give you a confession. I am someone that I am the worst person sound, I would write down on that because I don’t do any less. I follow my gut instinct. And that gets sometimes causes, I want to say problems. But what it means is that I could go off and follow my instincts. The upside is I can I take on challenges unsightly, I saw an opportunity there, my gut instinct said that there’s nothing here, there’s nothing for students. So I was like, I’m gonna do it. And a lot of people thought I was crazy. I’ve had it happen before when I said I will go into recruitment from architecture and people like you insane. And then when I when I said that I was going to leave bespoke careers, which was a large architectural recruitment consultancy big in Australia, big in London everywhere to set up my own recruitment agency, everyone for I was crazy. And then that was successful. Even though I love bespoke that by the time I was just so driven to do something different. And the kind of challenge myself, but people for I was mad. So the point is, is that I was on furlough here, I saw an opportunity to help people. And I just felt a little bit frustrated that, and over the course of my career, students will ask for help. And I would try and help where I could. But when it’s times limited, you never really give enough attention. So I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a place for architects to speak, and if I can offer some words of wisdom during this time, and I was like, I want to do it live. And it’s the same thing for everyone else, I just put it up. Okay. And I’m not saying this is the way you should do it. But I just worked it up. And then I spoke to two or three people. And then I reached out to you, and there was like 10 to 20 people. And now now more and more people have joined in and I send messages to reach out. But I didn’t overly think it I just felt like my gut there was a need for it. And also, where I look back is that my constant benchmark is what would I have like this when I was in architecture. And I try to balance the line between because it’s very hard to work. Now. Now especially I’ve gone from working two days a week, back to four days a week because everyone’s returning. They’re working Coronavirus, and managing the platform. And that’s why I think I’ve been talking a bit about how you manage the platform because to me, it’s interesting. So I have a full time job responsibility on a team. And the two projects really help each other out this project and my job. They both feed into each other really well. But the balance is being difficult and a learning curve, especially with a real life. But it’s so long answer I don’t know where it’s gonna go. And that’s the fun bit of it because I kind of see it like, well I’m gonna try and compose out in is that I want more people to feel like it’s theirs to use. And that comes over time because everyone’s being respectful and they and and everyone’s there isn’t there’s no malice in the group, which is amazing. And everyone by the whole Well, you just don’t know like an intimate trawlers. Right. Now I’ve got to get out my like PC facing or, excuse me know, it’s just common sense. Yeah, go around with my heart and kick people out. But everyone’s been really good and really supportive and the community’s been awesome. And again, so I’m interested in experimented with that formula. And my next goal is to try and get more and more people. Like for instance, see now you have an idea that you want projects for people to feed into the future social, then that’s what it’s for the thing that I’m going to roll out next, or Gosh, I shouldn’t announce it here, I have a problem of announcing things. And then hopefully, I’ve got to make sure I do. So what I will do is I’m thinking of doing a weekly architecture show, which I’m going to do live on youtube, and I’m going to talk about new jobs that are happening, news is happening. And I’m going to honk my horn and hopefully have a bit of fun with it. But maybe Who knows, maybe we can become a wuss, who’s begging the Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy? Carter, right? So we will see. Sure, but like everything else, we’ll

see where it goes out. And, and, like you who knows what the formula will go. So on that note, if anyone hasn’t heard of you, or hasn’t seen projects by people, where do we find you out? And where do we find project by people?

Alvin Zhu 41:50
So projects by people? At the moment, it’s just on Instagram, so you know, our projects by people? Is the handle working on the website? Hopefully, hopefully, it it can do a better job. It’s not just a submission portal, and also on YouTube.

Stephen Drew 42:09
Debbie Downer again. I’m sure it’s gonna be good.

Alvin Zhu 42:12
Hopefully, hopefully. And yeah, I’m starting to get into YouTube. Now. You know, I think that’s the next thing for me as well. I’ve always loved the YouTube. And yeah, hopefully it goes well.

Stephen Drew 42:25
I think it will make sense with what you’re talking about in terms of video, especially with live streaming, because I know you’re streaming and actually, I use stream right now because of the Mad collective. And on that note, the Mad collective? Where can we find the Mad collective? Um,

Alvin Zhu 42:42
so we have our website, you know, Mad we have web most active on Instagram. So it’s the collective I think,

Stephen Drew 42:57
equal human collective, it’ll pop up. Yeah, they give you a break. I’m like that. There is no. All right. Well, I think what you’ve done is awesome. I think that you are someone that’s changed, the better the digital fabric, definitely. And I think I think you are incredibly humble. And you will, I reckon you’re going to be one of the influences which changes the space. So keep going. And I won’t hold my own. Oh, maybe. Very impressed. All right. Keep going. Absolutely love to have you here. And it’s good to talk about the realities of studying architecture, travelling, and everything else. Thank you so much, Alvin. Thank

Alvin Zhu 43:41
you, Steven. It was an absolute pleasure.

Stephen Drew 43:44
All right, signing out.


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