Despite being a relative newcomer to BSB Group in Vietnam, Alan Gander, Senior Architectural Technologist, has a career that spans across three decades. The BSBG Blog team sat down with Alan to find out more about how he’s adapting to his new role in Vietnam…
BSBG Blog: Welcome to BSB Group! Why did you choose the ‘Architectural Technologist’ route for your career?
AG: “I’d always been interested in a field that involved me drawing, designing and problem solving, and when the realisation came that I wasn’t going to be an automotive designer, the next best thing for me was architecture. I was always more interested in the technical side. Architectural Technologists are qualified to design and manage projects from inception to completion. We lead the technological design of a project and we form the link between concept and design realisation; that’s what I’ve been doing now for more than 25 years.”
BSBG Blog: You now work for BSB Group in Vietnam, how did that opportunity arise?
AG: “I had spoken with Mark Vaughan, who was integral to the opening of the office of Vietnam. I had worked with Mark some five years previously at a different practice, and he informed me there might be a possible position. Then, in late 2017 the opportunity came and I’m happy to say I took it.”
BSBG Blog: How have you settled in to working in your new role?
AG: “I think I’ve settled into BSB Group quite well considering it’s been not only a move of job, but also nearly half the way round the world. I would like to think I have integrated into the team here well, and hope that the team here feel the same way. The procedures and standards that are being put in place across the group are an especially impressive endeavour, as these will assist all members of the practice in equal measure. It was also good to be in Dubai for a few days at the HQ to meet the teams and get a feel for the projects, standards and strategies before continuing to Vietnam to start work.”BSBG Blog: And how about Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City itself?
AG: “I can honestly say that, although I’ve only been here for four months now, I have really fallen for the place. The people are so friendly and always have a smile, the vibrancy and energy of HCMC is intoxicating. I had heard about this before I arrived and can now say that it’s true. It has everything and more. I find Vietnam far more multicultural than I ever thought it would be and with people from so many different countries. I love it here, except perhaps for the traffic – which at the best of times has to be seen to be believed, but if some rain is thrown in for good measure – all bets are off…
“The architecture sector is very buoyant here and it’s an exciting place to be right now. The quality of the architecture is moving to a far higher level than ever before as you see when you look at the number of recently completed and under-construction projects in and around the city.”
BSBG Blog: Is Architectural Technology widely known about or adopted in Vietnam, and also Malaysia as you worked there before? Do you see it growing in Asia?
AG: “When I was in Kuala Lumpur it was 1997, which seems an awfully long time ago now. I was there as part of a team of technicians who went to assist on a large project. I got the impression that it wasn’t widely known about there at the time, however it may have changed by now. In Vietnam, it seems that those wishing to pursue architecture do so by the traditional ‘Architect’ route, rather than perhaps looking at the technologist path. But with BSB Group and CIAT being active here in collaboration, and the recently launched ATCM course at UCN which is the first Architectural Technologist course in Vietnam and Asia, Architectural Technology is becoming more widely known. I think we could be witnessing the dawn of a new era. We’ve also had two Architectural Technologists working with us in Vietnam as interns, so there is a wealth of talent coming through in this region too.”
BSBG Blog: You’re an Architectural Technologist with so much experience at the highest level – so what’s the secret to being a great technologist?
AG: “You need to be ready to continually adapt to new ways of working and new technologies. I also think a crucial part of it, especially in the role I play, is to assist others with the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years. I have always made sure I’m available to lend my expertise in any situation.”
BSBG Blog: What’s been the biggest change, from an architectural technologist’s point of view, in architecture since you started out with your career?
AG: “Well, apart from decimalisation and the invention of the automobile, there have been many changes. I suspect the biggest of all is the limitless and ever evolving capabilities of BIM and the way in which drawings are produced. No longer do we use the humble drawing board which I worked on for a few years. As explained in ‘What is BIM?’, written by Mark Vaughan, the industry now has the capability to provide a user with a 5-D environment to extract information from. BIM consolidates drawings, technical data sheets, schedules, specifications, reports and much more into a virtual environment. The evolution has taken project delivery to a whole new level!”
BSBG Blog: Had you heard much of BSB Group before you joined?
AG: “I first heard of BSB Group when I was working in Abu Dhabi in 2012, and that name had come up as one of the most impressive practices in Dubai. Subsequently a colleague of mine joined the company and also, a few years later Mark Vaughan also did. Five years later I was in Dubai, and again I heard people talking about BSB Group with a lot of admiration. It was apparent that they had gained a lot of respect within the field, and having only been with the practice for a short while I can see why that is and I’m very happy to be part of this team.”
BSBG Blog: Thanks for your time, Alan…
AG: “I’d like to finish by thanking friends and colleagues within the industry for their numerous wishes of good luck!”
Alan has now joined up with his team at BSB Group in Vietnam, working and contributing to our portfolio of new and ongoing international projects. Some of Alan’s previous projects before joining BSB Group include: