The Architectural Journey of Christopher Hartiss: Unveiling a Multifaceted Career

Chris Hartiss, middle-aged man in sunglasses, casual attire, architecture social platform.

A Passion for Architecture: The Early Stirrings

Every architect has a tale of when their interest in the field was kindled. For Christopher Hartiss, this moment came at the tender age of eight. His grandparents were constructing a new house, and the architectural drawings fascinated young Christopher. It was not the buildings per se that captivated him, but the power of drawings as a medium to communicate and materialize ideas. This early encounter set Christopher on a path where drawings, more than the physical act of building, would become his lifelong pursuit.

The Unconventional Route: From Tea Boy to Architect

Christopher Hartiss’s journey wasn’t a straightforward leap from academia to professional practice. After finishing his Part 2 in 1995, he found himself navigating a period of exploration before officially qualifying as an architect in 2000. His career trajectory took him from being a ‘tea boy’ in an architect’s office to grappling with the nuances of architectural drawings in a civil engineering setting.

It was during his time on a civil engineering site that Christopher truly understood the essence of his early fascination. Tasked with translating designers’ drawings into constructible reality, he experienced first-hand the practical implications of architectural decisions. This phase, while seemingly detached from conventional architectural practice, enriched Christopher’s understanding of the profession.

Teaching and Mentoring: The Parallel Path

Parallel to his evolving career, Christopher Hartiss has been deeply involved in teaching and mentoring. He shares his knowledge at institutions like the University of Westminster and the University of East London, and serves on the Wandsworth Council Design Review Panel. His commitment to nurturing the next generation of architects reflects his belief in the importance of passing on lessons learned from years of diverse experiences.

Christopher’s engagement in teaching is not merely a side occupation; it represents his dedication to shaping the future of architecture. By bridging practice, academia, and mentoring, he offers a holistic perspective to those entering the field, ensuring that the upcoming architects are well-equipped to navigate the complex landscape of modern architectural practice.

A Varied Career: From Squire and Partners to Client-Side Experience

After a stint at Squire and Partners, where he rose from project architect to director, Christopher decided to explore beyond the traditional boundaries of architectural practice. His move to a client-side role as Head of Design offered a new perspective on the architect-client dynamic. This shift from creating designs to briefing architects allowed him to experience the full spectrum of the architectural process from both sides of the table.

His tenure at Squire and Partners, lasting over 18 years, was marked by significant growth and learning. The firm’s blend of design sensibility and commercial acumen resonated with Christopher’s own professional ethos. It was here that he honed his skills not just as an architect, but as a leader and manager within a prominent architectural practice.

Chelsea Barracks: A Testament to Teamwork and Vision

Among the myriad projects Christopher has been involved with, Chelsea Barracks stands out as a career-defining endeavor. His pride in the project stems not just from its architectural excellence, but from the collaborative effort it symbolized. As he walked through the development, which transformed a military installation into a vibrant part of London, Christopher reflected on the collective effort that made it possible.

This project, more than any other, epitomizes his belief in the power of teamwork in architecture. It’s a reminder that while the architect plays a crucial role, the realization of any significant project is the result of a collective effort involving numerous individuals, each bringing their unique skills and perspectives to the table.

Advice for Aspiring Architects: Embrace the Journey

For those embarking on their architectural journey, Christopher Hartiss offers sage advice. He emphasizes the importance of embracing every experience, no matter how unrelated it may seem to architecture, as each step contributes to one’s professional development. He advocates for honesty and professionalism, encouraging aspiring architects to understand their worth and to communicate their ideas effectively to both architects and non-architects alike.

Christopher’s journey demonstrates that an architectural career can be rich and varied, not confined to designing buildings but encompassing teaching, mentoring, and exploring new professional avenues. It’s a journey of continuous learning, adaptation, and growth, reflecting the ever-evolving nature of architecture itself.

Conclusion: A Career That Inspires

Christopher Hartiss’s architectural career serves as a testament to the varied paths one can take within the field of architecture. From his early fascination with drawings to his significant contributions in practice and education, his journey is a source of inspiration for both current and future architects. His story underlines the importance of continuous learning, adaptability, and a broad-minded approach to the profession, qualities essential for anyone aspiring to make their mark in the world of architecture.