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A day in the life of an architect’s assistant

BEING successful in the world of architecture means not just thinking in the short term, but further into the future, Sath Pisal says.  At the age of 20, he’s beginning his life working in the major he loves.

Along with studying in his third year at Norton University, he works as an architect’s assistant at the RTC Engi-neer Company.

On Monday, I arrived at the company around one in the afternoon.  Walking into Sath Pisal’s office, I noticed a variety of building models, both modern office blocks and traditional Khmer houses.

Sath Pisal was seated next to another architect-in-training, talking about the plan for a flat they were rushing to finish.  As he worked, he  glanced back and forth between his laptop screen and his partner.

“I always share ideas for my architectural plans with the people I’m working with, and ask about their ideas as well,” he says.

Sath Pisal says he’s been interested in architecture since high school.  He’s always had a knack for precise drawing and coming up with new ideas, so he decided to pursue it as his primary major.

Last month, he landed an internship as a graphic designer for Beyond Interiors, a Phnom Penh-based company.  By that time he had already completed two projects: a sign at SCA and another gracing the front of Monument Books.

After his internship ended, he got   a job at RTC Engineer Company.

“I didn’t expect to get the job,” Sath Pisal says modestly.  At first, he worked only part-time, but his boss  noted his hard work and talent and selected him to work as his assistant.

Every day, Sath Pisal wakes at 7am to take a computer course, then heads to RTC around midday to spend the rest of the day there.

He is working on the plans for a flat that the company will be able to show potential customers.

During the working day, he has free rein to do anything he wants.  His only restriction is that he must finish the project before the deadline.  

The process of creating plans involves calculating relative sizes and shapes, sketching a graph, and designing the plan of the flat according to the buyer’s specifications.

In his experience, the biggest chall-enge faced by an architect comes when a customer is dissatisfied with the plans that have been drawn up.

If an owner accepts the plan after an explanation of the concept behind it, things get easier.  But if  the customer requests a change, it can be very difficult to do.

“I can make the changes they request, but I can’t guarantee there will be no structural problems once  it is built,” Sath Pisal says.

Sath Pisal will finish his architectural studies in three years, at which point he will become a fully fledged architect working under someone with more experience.

Down the track, he hopes to set up his own architecture firm.

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