Claudia Iannantuoni from fast-growing commercial and residential practice gpad answers ADF’s questions on what makes her tick

WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ARCHITECT? I come from Brianza, northern Italy, an area with many interior design and furnishing workshops. My uncle and grandparents were designers, and taught old-style furniture design at an evening school. They used to bring me there as a kid and let me play with pencils, crayons and watercolours while showing me the basics of perspective drawings. Although I didn’t know at the time I wanted to be an architect, I had an early introduction to seeing perspective and working in this way was always in the back of my mind.

When I started my training in Milan, I quickly became very passionate about buildings, even more than interiors, and it is the exterior and detailing that I now love working with the most.

© Peter Savage

WHAT DO YOU MOST LIKE ABOUT THE JOB? You’re always learning because it’s never the same. Each building is different and throws new challenges at you. The fact that it’s never easy is in some ways the best part. There is always something new to investigate, something to solve, and every time you finish a project you’re richer. It just keeps engaging you, and you can never predict how a day will go. You also have to keep abreast of new developments, as technology and styles keep evolving. In the past we used to go through cycles of ‘looks’, but these days the industry around the world is much more experimental. There’s incredible versatility and scope in the industry.


Co-ordination can be hard, however it’s also just as intriguing as it is complicated. The challenge is combining the aesthetic you want to achieve with all the technical aspects of the structure. Especially when refurbishing or extending, you tend to uncover surprises that throw you curveballs; you then have to adjust your original thinking to suit what you find.

© Peter Savage

WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT AND WHY? Being selected among the finalists in the competition for the regeneration of Old Street Roundabout! A small team at gpad created a design in our own time. We sat down together after work, purely for the excitement of the challenge. Don’t get me wrong – we invested a lot of time in it, but given the calibre of participants involved we


were very pleased to be among the four winners selected.

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE CURRENTLY? We recently had a large office project in Leeds where the detailing and design were trickier than expected. We were proposing to extend as well as refurbish, and the exposed aesthetic we wanted was harder to co-ordinate than usual. Other than that, I’m still learning to combine motherhood with full time work. I’m lucky to be at gpad as it’s a really supportive and flexible environment for this.

WHAT INNOVATIONS HAVE RECENTLY MADE THE JOB EASIER? It’s hard to imagine a breakthrough that would have as big an impact as BIM. It’s completely transformed working on large-scale projects, making co-ordination so much easier. Not all software is the same, but in general it eliminates manual error; especially working in 3D, you can slice the building and make sure all the junctions and every single corner is working, allowing for quicker turnaround of sections. It’s still relatively new and not everyone has a full grasp of it yet, but it will be implemented more and more.


I’m really into timber and concrete at the moment. They’re both beautiful raw materials that can add warmth to a project. I have a more long-standing love for brick facades though. A brick can be used in so many ways, to create texture and patterns across a surface. You can do anything with it and the results will always be different.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM OVERSEAS ARCHITECTS? Your background influences so much of what you do; not just where you started your professional career but also where you grew up. Everything you’ve seen and the environment you live in come through in your work. You always learn from other architects. Some countries are pushing green building credentials more successfully than others, and countries generally have different responses to the same subjects or challenges, so it’s important to keep up to date and see what people around the world are proposing. Even universities across the world teach architecture with different


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