Kitchen Conversations No.1…

…with Senior Architect Ben Rainger. As the SSM team continue to work from home, we have started a series of kitchen conversations with team members to catch up and find out what life is like under lockdown. Whilst working remotely has proven to have its advantages, we are all looking forward to getting back to working together in the office soon!

How are you finding lockdown?

I have adjusted to the new working situation relatively well. I had prepared to be working from home and have created a space for my computer. I have set up a workstation on the kitchen table with a great view of the sky and I now enjoy hearing the birds while I work. I have also been listening to more music during the days which has been relaxing and provides some background noise.
I have also been keeping in touch with colleagues, having regular social conversations and coffee breaks and joining in with the SSM Team Social chats.
I am also able to work with my wife Jenny on days when she is working, which is a nice change.

Tell us something you have discovered about yourself during lockdown that has surprised you?

I thought that I would be doing more baking or cooking recipes that take time, but haven’t done this. I am fairly resilient and keep going, adjusting to the needs of the situation. I think this is because I am still working similar hours and have to communicate regularly with colleagues and teams.

I like drawing and think it is an important part of the design process. You learn through observation and I enjoy the slower pace of life required to look and draw.

What have you found most challenging about lockdown and how are you overcoming it?

The most challenging thing has been to maintain the work life balance when living in a small flat and not having a lot of space.
I make sure that my computer and workstation are cleared away at the end of each day. I also dress as if I was going to the office. I find it helpful for my work life balance and wellbeing to try to separate the working and home periods.

What is keeping you busy?

Work! I have a variety of projects at different stages ranging from inception to tender. These have each had to adapt to working from home. There have been lots of meetings to keep projects going. Fortunately, clients are being understanding about restrictions of working from home.
I have been helping to organise internal CPD sessions on Sustainability and Passive House to help spread the knowledge gained from completing the Passive House Fundamentals course across SSM and hearing first-hand experiences of my colleagues as we develop passive house designs for our clients.
The allotment is also keeping me busy. With the long spell of dry weather, I have had to water the plants every day as they germinate. I have had my first harvests of various salad leaves and the fruit plants are starting to flower. I am able to pop up to the allotment more easily as part of my daily exercise ‘walk home from work’ in the evening.
The other think keeping me busy is my role as President in the Edinburgh Architectural Association. I have been re-elected for a second year following our on-line AGM and we are working with the RIAS to find ways of supporting the profession at this time.

Where is one of the first places you will go once lockdown restrictions ease?

For a coffee at Artisan Roast, then to the beach to paddle in the sea.