Five questions for creatives

Luke Butcher

Luke Butcher studied architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture, University of Cambridge and University of Pennsylvania, where he held a prestigious Thouron Scholarship. In addition to First Class Honours and Distinctions in architecture, he also holds a Masters in Environmental Building Design. Luke is the recipient of a number of individual awards and was shortlisted for the RIBA Bronze Medal (2009).

Prior to co-founding BBA, Luke worked for a range of internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary design and construction companies in Manchester, London and Cambridge. Luke has experience on projects with values ranging from £150,000 to £150 million, including Abraham Darby Academy, SOAS Senate House, Southbank Tower and the Parliamentary Estate. Luke has taught at the Manchester School of Architecture and University of Pennsylvania, with his academic research published internationally.

How did you get into the creative industry, and was there a defining point in your career that led you on that path?

I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be an Architect. I grew up in a family where lots of people worked in the construction industry, my father is a carpenter, my uncle a bricklayer, etc. There was perhaps a degree of inevitability that I’d end up working in the industry too. One of the first books, that I still own, I remember reading again and again was about a hippy that builds a house (perhaps far more technical for a children’s book!) At secondary school I remember choosing my GCSE subjects knowing that I wanted to study architecture at University.

I was fortunate to have been supported by my family and teachers at both Sawtry Community College and The Kings’ School, Peterborough, and always encouraged to follow my creative pursuits. To train to become an architect you have to follow a fairly well-defined route of study and practice. Wherever possible I’ve tried to augment my training with additional learning experiences, such as studying abroad as a Thouron Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, and working at a range of practices across the UK, from large multi-disciplinary to smaller boutique offices. In terms of defining points, there have certainly been occasions that, at the time, seemed like set backs or disappointments. I can think of a few occasions where things didn’t go ‘according to plan’, such as not getting into my first-choice University. I’ve learned to not let this define me as a person, they may have shaped my career to a certain extent but in the end I like to remember that ‘as one door closes, another opens’. The culmination of all this was the establishment of my own architectural practice, Butcher Bayley Architects (BBA), with my wife and fellow architect, Carrie Bayley.

Is there anything you would change in your current career and if so why?

I’m happy with where my career is right now and the journey I’ve taken to get here. At certain times you may look back and wish that things had worked out a little differently but I try to remind myself that I wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for each of these ‘re-directions’.

Where do you see yourself, and your career in five years time?

I see my career being closely matched over the next five years with the success of our practice. We have set a series of ambitious targets for BBA, including taking on non-residential work. We want to be known for producing quality work that makes a positive contribution to the built environment in our local community.

Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?

I’m not sure I have a set of rules or habits per se. All of our projects follow particular steps but I wouldn’t say they are unique to us and would be fairly common at lots of other architecture practices. We are though always looking at new tools that can allow us to work more efficiently and free up as much time as possible to work on design challenges and less time focus on the ‘admin’, from developing our own fee calculator to a social media aggregator to keep the news page of our website up to date.

What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in the creative industry?

If you want to pursue a career in the creative industries then you should go for it. Like any career choice there will be difficult times but the end result will certainly be worth it. If you’re not 100% sure then a good idea is to approach local creatives and ask to talk to them about what they do. The vast array of different career options out there for anyone interested in pursuing a ‘creative’ field should mean that they’ll be a place you’ll feel comfortable, from working as part of a larger team or as a freelancer.

To find out more about Luke visit