To make an architectural business truly flourish, one needs guidance from a reputable expert in the field. And Britta Siggelkow fills this role perfectly. She is the founder of THINK:BUILD — a coaching and consulting firm that gives architects and designers a holistic vision of their business.
Britta Siggelkow is an accredited coach, consultant, and accomplished architect in the built environment. Her career included working in big and small firms in Australia, Germany, and the UK. This experience gave Britta a profound knowledge of the architectural industry which she now uses to help fellow architects and designers prosper in their professional endeavors. Britta’s practice is focused on the areas of leadership, business vision, and strategy.
As an architectural 3D visualization company, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to talk to such a niche professional. This interview with Britta will reveal tips and secrets of the industry that can help architects and designers to run a successful business. Read on!
How did you start your career as an architect and what attracted you to this field?
There was no one in my family working in the field when I was growing up. So I’m not sure where the fascination with architecture came from. But I do remember sketching floor plans for large apartments at the age of 11/12 without really knowing what I was doing. I eventually studied architecture in Hamburg before moving to Berlin for my first post-graduate experience in Berlin which at that time, in the mid-nineties, felt like a major development site that attracted architects from all over the world. It felt very international which I loved.
“The advancement of computer technology and software applications has had a major impact on how architects design, run projects, communicate, market themselves”.
What has changed in the industry since you got involved in it?
The advancement of computer technology and software applications has had a major impact on how architects design, run projects, communicate, market themselves. During my architecture course, we still did all our drawings by hand as this was also the case in the first companies I worked for. Everything has become faster and more instant. CAD applications have helped architects also to explore more complex designs. And then there of course has been the growth of the internet which really has had a huge impact on marketing possibilities and leveled the field for small and large practices.
What inspires you the most in the architecture business?
I think the fact that architecture is a rather unique profession. There aren’t many professions that combine in such interesting ways creativity, science, and technology along with business elements of delivery team leadership and quality assurance. It has amazing potential due to the vast possibilities and endless options for areas of practice that it offers.
“What I love most about coaching is the fact that it is completely focused on the positive – helping people and businesses realizing their full potential”.
What made you move on to coaching and consulting architects?
A few factors really. While I do enjoy the creative side of architectural work, what I always enjoyed most is working directly with people. And I always enjoyed helping people. That combined with a keen interest in personal and professional development as well as business development ultimately inspired me to train as a professional coach.
Founding THINK:BUILD ultimately brought these 2 strands of my professional experience together — 25+ years’ experience as an architect combined with my work as an accredited professional coach specializing in career and business development. What I love most about coaching is the fact that it is completely focused on the positive – helping people and businesses realizing their full potential.
What is THINK:BUILD and what services does it provide?
THINK:BUILD is a coaching and consulting practice created for architects and designers to facilitate that critical ‘taking time out to work ‘on’ the business and career rather than ‘in’ it. There are four strands of services:
CREATE is a strategic visioning program that helps practice owners to take time out to work on their business and create and design the practice they want with a bigger picture in mind.
GROW is a series of executive coaching sessions specifically for practice owners and senior partners, which recognizes that it can be quite lonely at the top and you do benefit from a strategic thinking partner and sounding board with whom you can bounce off ideas.
DEVELOP is workplace coaching aimed at key senior team members to support them in developing critical leadership skills.
Finally, STRUCTURE helps practices structure and organize themselves, looking at the organizational structure, the various roles, systems, and processes that define their practice and thinking about how these can be refined to meet the needs and growth of the business.
What makes this practice unique?
The idea for THINK:BUILD is built on my 25+ years of experience as an architect combined with my experience as an accredited professional coach specializing in career and business development.
My architecture background is a big differentiator because I bring real understanding and empathy for my clients’ issues, while also sharing their love of creativity and design. Further, I’ve worked in three different countries, in large international companies and very small firms, in practices and doing my own private work, and I’ve seen that the issues faced by architects and their businesses are universal. I bring that knowledge and those experiences to my work.
What are the latest trends in the architecture field?
I am not a marketing expert but what stands out for me personally is the use of video — either as edited short or long clips or instant live feeds on social media. And of course, a current big thing is podcasts – with the option to host your own podcast or to be a guest. Having said all that, it is important to keep in mind that all of the above are in fact tools that should be part of a clear marketing strategy to be effective, i.e. a practice really should have a clear idea about its target market(s) and their practice identity. That in turn will inform the best tactics and content to use.
Take your design presentation to a new level with interior rendering
Do you think architectural 3D visualization helps architects in their work?
Absolutely. I can see 2 focus areas – design development and communication of design ideas. My clients use architectural visualisation to test and develop volumes, compositions, structures but also for studies on textures and materials. And 3D visualizations play a major role in communicating effectively design proposals to clients as well as being part of the planning application process.
3D rendering by ArchiCGI studio
“3D visualizations play a major role in communicating effectively design proposals to clients as well as being part of the planning application process”.
Do any of your clients use CGI in their practice? If so, how exactly?
Yes, all of them. 3D modeling and CGI have become frequent tools as part of architectural design work today. While sketching and physical models still play a significant role in design development, 3D modeling has now become a regular feature in the process of developing and testing designs. And the other key role CGIs play is the communication of design ideas – to clients but also planning authorities.
Where should architects start in order to expand their business?
A clear long-term vision is one of the most important factors to business growth. What do we stand for? Why do we do what we’re doing? And what do we want to achieve? What is our big hairy and audacious goal (BHAG)? Developing a compelling vision for your company will involve some time and soul searching. But the time and effort you put into the process will pay off in the long term. A clear business vision provides a sense of purpose, informs strategic objectives, and defines mid and short-term goals.
“A clear long-term vision is one of the most important factors to business growth”.
The key to the success of your architectural or design business is to define its long-term goals and find ways to achieve them. That’s exactly where THINK:BUILD services come in handy.
We cannot thank Britta Siggelkow enough for providing us with meaningful answers to the burning questions from architects and designers all over the world. ArchiCGI wishes Britta and her company all the best!
Want to enhance your architectural and interior design business with 3D rendering services? Contact ArchiCGI and get jaw-dropping visuals for project presentations and marketing campaigns.
Valerie is an editor and content writer. She used to work on news and entertainment TV channels and in a fashion & design magazine. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting foreign countries, art events, film and street dancing festivals.