Internship at NarrativA architecten

‘You learn by doing’

Spanish intern Sara Garin just extended her 6-months internship at NarrativA architects with another 6 months. ‘I found NarrativA through the program “Global Training”. Since my studies I wanted to apply for this program, but I thought I would get more out of it, when I would have some working experience. So, when I was in my 5th year of my architecture degree I worked in Lertxundi arkitektura, a company in my hometown in Basque Country. During my master’s degree I did an internship for 5 months in Barcelona, and when I finished my studies, I started working again in the same company in my hometown.’

Sara was very interested to learn more about biobased ecological architecture and the building technology behind it. This was one of the main reasons she applied for the internship at NarrativA Architecten in the Netherlands. In Spain, this kind of architecture and way of building is not very common yet.

a really good match

‘It feels like a really good match,’ Sara tells enthusiastically. ‘From the beginning I felt so comfortable with Shai and Christiaan. They’ve helped me a lot. I am a very curious person and I ask a lot of questions, especially about the biobased ecological part of the work. Both of them always take time to answer. They have so much knowledge about this way of designing and building and are happy to share it. I really like working with them.’

Sara explains that in the first months of her internship she had to learn to work with the digital BIM program ArchiCAD, and her first tasks were relative simple. She helped preparing brochures about the running projects. ‘Later I’ve started working on new projects and all the technical information we have to give to the builders. I have worked on different projects here and I really learnt more about the ecological biobased part, for example the material they work with. This has been very interesting. I have never worked with wood before; in Spain it is more common to work with concrete steel and glass’.

It was one of the reasons why she decided to stay longer. ‘I am happy working for NarrativA. Now I am also working on the constructive details. And I was very lucky because Shai asked me also to work on a new project where the internal division needed to be thought of, including the interior design. This is something I find most interesting: to think about the spaces where the people are going to live in. I think my previous working experience helped me to be able to do these kinds of tasks.’

Also, the 6 months extra internship gives Sara space to actually see some of the projects she has worked on, during the building stage. ‘When I arrived, most of the projects NarrativA worked on, where at the end stage of designing and preparing to be built. Now I learn by doing, and understand by seeing how the projects are built in real life,’ she says. ‘And apart from that: I am happy in the Netherlands and in the office.’

Living in the Netherlands

To find a room in Utrecht, was rather challenging. Sara: ‘Shai did his best to help me find a place, but didn’t manage. It is very difficult at the moment, even for Dutch students to find a room to live in. But I have a friend who lived in Holland before and she advised me to contact a local intermediate company. With their help, I found a room quite easily. For me it is a bit expensive and I don’t think it is a good value, but I still consider myself to be lucky, as I know some interns who didn’t find a place to live in Holland and had to cancel their internship.’

Except from her room, Sara is enthusiastic about living in the Netherlands. ‘I fell in love with this country. In Holland you can cycle everywhere and I love to cycle. And, also I think the way the nature is integrated in the city life, is very nice. Many trees, parks, canals and lakes. The countryside is idyllic, with the houses and gardens.
I only miss the mountains!’

Sara is happy about living in Utrecht too. ‘I feel safe here, although I know Utrecht is a big city, where you unfortunately need to stay alert. I don’t feel afraid to cycle alone. The city is nice, there are a lot of young people and there is enough to do. It is a very lively town. And although I didn’t meet a lot of Dutch people yet, the ones I’ve met are very friendly.

It is so nice to get along with my boss and colleagues at NarrativA. It is a small company, but we do talk about our different points of view, I like that.’

If it is up to Sara, she recommends every student in architecture to do an internship with NarrativA in the Netherlands. ‘What I find characteristic about NarrativA is that Shai and Christiaan want to share their knowledge about biobased ecological architecture; they want more people to be involved in this way of designing and building, in order to make the world a better place. So, they give students a chance to learn a lot about ecological architecture. For example, they invited me to join a training about bio-based architecture, they gave to a colleague architect. She has her own office in Rotterdam and she wanted to do more sustainable projects. The training was in English and was an overview of everything you should know when working on ecological projects. The combination of the theory with examples from the building site in pictures and drawings were priceless.’

Some tips

The tips of Sara for coming interns:
‘If you decide to come to the Netherlands, take enough time to find a place to live. Take into account that the scholarship you get, is just not enough. In Holland the daily life is more expensive than in Spain. Unfortunately, a scholarship is not adapted to the standard of living according to the country you go to. Apart from that: it is really worth it!
An internship with NarrativA is a great way to learn because you work on real projects with real challenges, not only theoretical. You can see it being built in real life!’