Kyle Gates has recently joined our London team as Senior Architectural Technologist. Having qualified in South Africa, he shares stories of his early life, his journey into Architecture, and relocating to the UK.

When was your first memorable experience with architecture?

When I was seven years old, I remember watching the new library being constructed at Dunvegan Primary School in my hometown of Edenvale; a small town on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city. I was inspired to draw it. 

I first experimented with space planning when I found some concrete behind my grandfather’s house and built a racetrack and little town. His model railway also piqued my interest. Throughout school I was consistent at most subjects, and took English, Afrikaans, History, Art, Technical Drawing and Mathematics until Matric (A-Levels). I initially thought a career in Law was for me but after two years I decided to change direction and focus on Architecture, which was where I wanted to be.

What do you more enjoy about your role?

I am a people person, and I love building face-to-face relationships. Every day is different. I really enjoy going to site and the varied nature of my role. Working in the UK I am also learning about new building technologies and materials; a challenge that I am finding really interesting.

Name a person or project that has most inspired you and why?

My biggest inspiration is the end user. Be it the business owner who has a vision for his factory, the homeowner creating their dream home, the shopper at a new retail space or the lodge manager hoping to showcase the best that South Africa has to offer.

My most fulfilling projects have been in the educational sector. I was fortunate enough to design and manage a new multi-use sports hall and hockey pavilion at my secondary school, Edenvale High School. Engaging with the school governing body and delivering their vision in a place where I spent so much time was a proud moment. My most rewarding project was a nursery and junior school for children on the autism spectrum. Their original building burnt down in an electrical fire. This gave us the opportunity to design a purpose-built facility influenced by various theories on the best way to create a space for the children's needs. I enjoyed engaging with the dedicated staff and spending time observing the children, to ensure that everyone's needs were met on a very tight budget.

Your biggest challenge?

Moving to another country with a young family has been one of my biggest challenges - as was the decision to switch from studying law to architecture.

What do you like doing when you not working?

I have been lucky enough to work on some game reserves located in landscapes of breathtaking natural beauty. This has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my passion for nature and wildlife photography. 

The photograph pictured is one of my favourites taken in the Kruger National Park. We tracked a young female leopard for around 1.5 hours, before losing her in some thick reed beds adjacent to the Sabie River. Further down stream, we heard several Vervet monkeys alarm calling. We headed in the direction of the calls and saw the leopard emerge with her young 3-week-old cub, who she was moving to a safe location due to the presence of a new male in the area. It is very rare to see a leopard cub at such a young age.

I especially enjoy spending time with my family. My wife, Wendy, is a secondary school teacher and we have two very active boys. They love being outdoors and anything involving competition especially tennis, football, cricket and golf. I still play golf and tennis but hung up the cricket spikes a few years ago. My wife and I enjoy travel and have travelled to many South African destinations as well as Zimbabwe, Canada, Australia, and the UAE together. Now that we are in the UK we are looking forward to exploring Europe. 

What are you listening to?

I spend my spare time watching documentaries and live sport, but when I do listen to music I like artists such as Dotan and Hollow Coves for relaxation, and classic 70s and 80s rock for a hit of nostalgia. My favourite commercial artists are U2 and Coldplay. I'm looking for some good podcasts for my train journeys, so open to suggestions!

Latest Stories

All stories