Oli Bennett

"If I’m going to do something I give it my all. I don’t under-bake anything."

“When I was younger, I loved to draw. That’s all I did. I drew anything and everything.

I’d never make it as a fine artist and I’d never want to, but I knew architecture would be a practical and useful career where I could do something I love. As an architect, I still draw every day, just in a different way. I work across the board on drawings, computer modelling, diagrams, renderings and presentations.

I studied architecture at the University of Newcastle and I had lightbulb moment one day in my first semester. I was looking at the masters students’ work, which was really great, and I thought, ‘I need to be at that level’. I wanted to get ahead. I didn’t wait for masters, I wanted to be at that level straight away.

I realised that the big difference was that those students were working in architecture practices. So I set myself a goal that by the end of that first semester, even with no experience, I would get a part-time job in an architecture practice. I approached a lot of local practices and everyone told me to go away but one guy gave me a shot. He said if I could learn fast he’d give me a job and I ended up working for him for four years.

It was a little residential practice with only two employees and that’s where I learned my skills. I was thrown into the deep end a few times and I’ve learned to adapt. So that’s why I’m useful.

I teach now at the University of Technology Sydney and I tell my students that the best thing they can do is to get a job in a practice. I like teaching because it keeps you on your toes. It keeps you fresh and at the forefront of technical developments in the profession. I enjoy passing on knowledge and people have been very generous with teaching me, so I have an obligation to teach the next generation of students as I was taught.

I’m ambitious. If I’m going to do something I give it my all. I don’t under-bake anything. I like uniqueness in design, and I’m glad ARM is bringing more of that to Sydney.”