Image of James Cook architecture alumni

James Cook


After deliberating about whether he even wanted to go to university, James has proven he has what it takes to make it in the world of architecture. With hard work and determination, James secured a first-class honours degree. Despite graduating in the middle of a global pandemic, he started his new role at Grafik Architecture practice just months later.

What initially appealed to you about Ravensbourne and your chosen degree?  

After researching about Ravensbourne and having my interview, I knew it was the place for me to begin my career within architecture.

Many things appealed to me about Ravensbourne, such as the award-winning building, the successful reputation for student progression into the design industries and the facilities on offer – like the many prototyping rooms. Ravensbourne also offered many opportunities to meet industry professionals.

Architecture was always a passion of mine, and after hearing about Ravensbourne, I knew this was the place for me to succeed.  

What proved to be the benefits of studying with us? 

One of the main benefits of studying at Ravensbourne was the emphasis on collaboration. We had the opportunity to work with other students on both our own course and across different disciplines. This really helped us to improve each other’s work.

The open plan study spaces within the building encourage students to share ideas with each other, improving each other's work by gaining constructive criticism.

The model making space on level 9 was also a huge benefit for me as an architecture student. The studio was packed with a variety of equipment that allowed me to create physical forms of the ideas I had within my head.

The tutors were also very supportive of my studies and always had the time for chats about either work or personal life when it was needed.  

What were your highlights from your time at Ravensbourne? 

Some of my highlights from my time at Ravensbourne were meeting the amazing group of friends I’ve had at Rave since day one.

When I first joined Rave, I was a very quiet person who kept to myself. The tutors really encouraged communication between peers, which allowed me to boost my own confidence as well as gain friends within the industry.

The connections you can make at Ravensbourne aren’t just for your time at Rave – they last so much longer and can be very beneficial for your career.

Another highlight from my time at Ravensbourne were the presentations that I had to do for my tutors and peers. After putting in so much time and effort into my work, it was a great feeling to receive positive feedback – it really boosted my confidence.

My main highlight from Ravensbourne was receiving a first-class honours degree after three years of hard work and seeing all of my peers succeeding alongside me.  

How has your degree at Ravensbourne helped you to achieve your professional goals? 

Ravensbourne supplied me with a good knowledge of the types of software used in industry. After getting to grips with this on the course, I am now proficient at using it and have applied it successfully to my job.

The design skills I gained from Ravensbourne enabled me to create a CV and portfolio that was good enough to get me hired, even during these challenging times.

Both the software insight and architectural knowledge that I learnt through my studies have allowed me to make a strong impact in my job role. My employers are very pleased with the work I have been producing.   

What you have done since graduation? What does your typical day look like?  

Since graduating during one of the worst possible times, I had spent several months searching for employment. During this time, I didn’t want to stop my architecture work, so I entered a competition with fellow Ravensbourne students and friends, which was run by VolumeZero. This kept us busy, topping up our skills and knowledge.

Finally, just before Christmas, I got offered the job at Grafik Architecture. This practice has a strong residential focus, working with clients such as like Barratt David Wilson, Bellway homes and Crest Nicholson.

Due to the large amount of work the company has, each day is different and is an opportunity to learn new things and push myself to produce work to the best of my ability.

The work varies from large master planning to small individual house-type changes. I am responsible for making street scenes look visually pleasing for clients and working on technical drawings for the design team. I am part of a planning team of six where we all work together on several different projects to ensure we meet deadlines.  

Do you have any advice for prospective Ravensbourne students? 

My advice to prospective students looking to join Rave and pursue their chosen careers is that the more effort you put into your studies and your course, the more you will get out of it.

It's most definitely going to be hard work, but if you put in the effort, then you will reap the rewards.

At one point, I was set on never going to university, however I am so glad that I chose to go. Being at Ravensbourne was one of the best experiences of my life and one that I will never forget, and I’ve made lifelong friends along the way.

Put yourself out there with new people and make new friends, as you will meet some incredible people from all over the world. One day you may possibly end up working with them professionally, just like I am too.



Instagram: @jcarchdesign

BA (Hons) Architecture
Year of graduation, 2020