Studio Life: Part 1 in another country


What is life like working as a Part 1 Architect in a new country? Elyza Yunus and Hazel Whittaker began their careers in our Rotterdam studio earlier this year. We find out how they’re adapting to work and life in the Netherlands.

Where were you living before?

Elyza: I grew up in Manchester but spent the last three years in Liverpool completing my Bachelors in Architecture at the Liverpool School of Art and Design, LJMU.

Hazel: I grew up in Sheffield, and was a student in Liverpool until the summer of 2022.

Why Rotterdam?

Elyza: I enjoy the idea of being somewhere completely new and different as it gives you the opportunity to explore and try new things. Rotterdam has a very unique urban vibe and is filled with art and many cultures, an aspect I wanted to immerse myself in.

Hazel: I have always thought of myself as European, not simply a British person and despite some obvious differences, for example, the Dutch language, I feel very much at home here. I spent three years in Liverpool which has some physical similarities to Rotterdam – it’s a large port city with lots of water, boats, and traffic. Living here makes me realise how it is possible to create an exciting and functional urban environment which is often lacking in UK cities, for example, the cycling infrastructure promotes healthy lifestyles and means the commute is free!

What have you been working on?

Elyza: I am currently working on a residential project in London where I’m designing residential floor layouts and ensuring units comply with Building Regulations and Technical Standards. I am also assisting with modeling topography and landscape working with a wider design team. As a Part 1, I feel well supported and value working with our experienced team.

Hazel: I started off working on the 30 years ML book which is underway, showcasing the practice’s work. More recently I have been working with a team on the early stages of a new project and enjoying getting to know people in the studio and learning about their projects.

What is life like so far as a Part 1 at ML Rotterdam?

Elyza: It’s stimulating working with the international team, it has a vibrant atmosphere and I enjoy coming in to work.

What is different from the UK?

Elyza: I have adapted quite well and quickly to the Dutch way of life, so struggle to remember any obvious differences. Perhaps the fact that cars and bikes move in the other direction to the UK, was something to get used to.

Any challenges?

Elyza: Although English is widely spoken here, being in a country where you don’t speak or understand the main language (Dutch) can sometimes be a challenge when you are out and about. However, in December I am starting a Dutch course, which I am looking forward to!

Hazel: Moving to a different country brings a lot of practical challenges, I had to be well organised to find accommodation. The biggest challenge was navigating post-Brexit paperwork but I am so grateful for all the help and support from Maccreanor Lavington.

Would you advise other architectural students to take the plunge in another country?

Elyza: Definitely. The experience has made me more ambitious as to where I see myself in the future. I would encourage anyone given the opportunity to work abroad, to take it on.

What do you do here when not working?

Hazel: I am very lucky to be living with a group of lovely girls from around Europe, we all really enjoy exploring other cities in the Netherlands and going to all the bars and cafes here. I have a museum card which gives you access to the majority of museums and galleries for 67 euros a year – my favourite museum so far is the Fotomusem in Rotterdam. I have also joined the Rotterdam netball club which has given me a taste of home.

Cycling in Rotterdam or London?

Elyza: Rotterdam for sure despite a recent injury.  I hardly cycle in the UK but in Rotterdam, I cycle everywhere, every day, and in any weather. I am really looking forward to getting back on my bike and reliving my seven-minute commute to work.

Hazel: I have never cycled in London but from cycling in Sheffield, there are no bike lanes, the hills are really steep and it is dangerous. Being in Rotterdam inspires me – it demonstrates the potential to create better urban environments by prioritising people not cars in cities. Rotterdam makes it happen!

Hazel Whittaker
Elyza Yunus