Mr Cahill started by explaining that being an architect was not only about the design of buildings but also running the actual building site. We were amazed to understand that the design part and sketching took only a couple of minutes when realising the structure could take years. He explained to us that his job as an architect was making the different people involved agree on a design – which, apparently, is not as easy as it sounds. Using the Wathen Hall as an example, in a very amusing way he showed us different plans of the dream music halls from each of the parties involved in creating the building. These ranged from a huge glamorous concert hall to a deluxe cinema with minibars suggested by pupils, and even a shed (volunteered by the finance department).
He also covered the technical issues of the building, such as the sewerage, the fact that St Paul’s stands on a reservoir and the issue of sound and noise. He gave us a bit of a scare as he revealed that when seated in the Wathen hall 300 tonnes of wooden sails, used to create good acoustics, lie above our heads!
When asked what his most challenging creation was, he replied ‘a swimming pool’! We understood that the pool was much more complicated than it seemed. The depth of the pool had to be able to be changed, so an adjustable floor was created for the bottom. We also discovered that a hidden basin was attached to the pool, to recuperate the overflow from it.
He confessed that his most emotional work had to be the Wathen Hall, as his son had played the trombone on the day of the opening. He briefly concluded by showing us pictures of all his major constructions and on that day gave us an insight into the real world of life as an architect in an inspiring and entertaining way. Many thanks to SPARTA for organising this event for us.