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Faces of Architecture: Nikoletta Karastathi

RIBA North East members showcase their diversity, skills, interest and backgrounds, highlighting how it has impacted on their careers within architecture.

10 July 2018

Nikoletta grew up in Athens and moved to Newcastle in 2007 to study architecture. She is currently a practicing architect at Napper Architects in Newcastle whilst also teaching as a part time design tutor at Newcastle University and carrying out research at University College London. Her work motto is best summarized by Denys Lasdun's phrase: 'to give to the client on time and on cost, not what he wants but what he never dreamed he wanted and when he gets it, he recognises it as something he wanted all the time '.

As a child I was always trying to find various creative ways to entertain and preoccupy myself. Either by making things out of plaster, plasticine, painting, creating bents, playing ‘music’ from cooking pots and the list goes on. At one point, I decided to pour a bucket of colourful paint on our new white carpet because I wanted to see the shapes and colours that would appear! My parents would still claim that I was not the easiest child to have. However, it is that creativity and ongoing curiosity for creating new things that determined my path. I believe that through architecture I discovered a way to focus my creativity to create living spaces for others. Therefore, I treat every project as a creative challenge!

With a passion for computational design and research I began an MA in Design and Emergence at Newcastle at the same time that I started to work at Napper Architects. Being at university and in a practice environment, I recognised the need for better links between these two environments and then I started to appreciate the value of research as a means of nurturing innovation and growth within architectural practice.

I find it quite fascinating to dip in and out of each ‘field’ where I can find overlapping areas of interest. In particular, research and teaching are a source of inspiration for my design work.

Being a member of Napper Architects gives me the opportunity to work on a wide breadth of projects, interact with clients and contractors while managing the everyday architectural design tasks. My favourite project that I have worked on is exploring the self-assembled knitted structures. This work initially originated from my thesis while doing a Masters degree.

If I had to pick an architect whose work and process I admire, it would be Buckminster Fuller. He explored many fields as an architect, an innovator, a designer, an author, an inventor, a system theorist, a teacher and much more:

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims. [The challenge is] to make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time, with spontaneous cooperation and without ecological damage or disadvantage of anyone." R. Buckminster Fuller

In 2017, I was elected by the RIBA members of the North East as the lead at the NE Research and Innovation Forum. The Forum promotes research within practices and helps them share research with educational bodies and other professions. The aim is to facilitate the advancement of the architectural practices and to this end, I am currently establishing a strong research network in North East involving university, practitioners and research enthusiastic practices.

I believe that diversity and inclusion is instrumental for architectural practices to embrace what cultural diversity can contribute to a practice. Multicultural, multidisciplinary teams are not only key for a practice to progress but also for advancement of fundamentals of societal equality. Each individual has something unique to offer in the profession of architecture, thus it is crucial to be inclusive and embrace the individuality of each person.

Nikoletta's contribution is part of our Faces of Architecture campaign, celebrating the diversity of architects in the North East. If you’d like to get involved, contact Amy Tomlinson.

Nikoletta Karastathi : Napper Architects

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