Alison Killing

Alison Killing became an architect because she likes making things. She read architecture at King’s College, Cambridge and Oxford Brookes and on graduating was shortlisted for the RIBA Silver Medal. She then went to work for a number of international design offices, including Buro Happold and Kees Christiaanse, on architecture, public space and urbanism. She started Killing Architects in 2010, where her work incorporates design of buildings and urban strategies, as well as research, film making and exhibitions that help to connect people with their built environment. She is a TED Fellow.

Alison-Killing_P1My Highlights | Becoming a TED fellow – it’s an incredible community to be part of, for inspiration, support and friendship.




A Key Talent | Perseverance. Any significant goal is going to take time to come to fruition. To a certain extent, just keeping going with something can get you to where you want to be and I do tend to stick with things passed the point where a lot of people give up. But it’s important to recognise that perseverance can mean other things too – there may be very good reasons to stop any given thing, to lower the bar sometimes, or to put something on pause while you focus on something else which requires attention. A willingness to take smaller steps, pause, and to resume something after a break are all things that can get you to where you want to be.

Principles I Live By | Having integrity and respect for other people.

Critical Skills I Develop | This is an ongoing project – obviously architecture, design and research skills are key, plus skills from related fields such as film making, journalism, interactive design or curation, which are about communicating the architecture and design work – that’s the technical skillset. There’s the business side on top of that and that’s something that I’ve been putting serious time into over the past couple of years, because I need to look after business development, finance, marketing etc in order to make my work sustainable. These are things that I’m less good at, and that I therefore need other people to help me with, but it’s also important that I understand them properly so that I can ask good questions of, and work effectively with, the people around me.

Alison-Killing_P2Lessons I Have Learnt | To make sure that I have plenty of balance in my life – devoting plenty of time to family and friends  and to resting enough. In the long run, you don’t get more done, or do better work if you don’t take the time to rest. I don’t always manage it, but I try hard to keep my working time to 9-6, Monday to Friday.

Performing At My Peak | I’m not sure it’s possible to always perform at your peak – you need the lower points and the slower times too. That’s not only because they provide contrast to peaks (and allow you to identify them as such), but because they set you up to be able to have those peaks in the first place. The quieter, slower periods, and those where you feel you’re not making progress are often the times when the deep thinking and recharging is happening and they provide the pre-conditions for having peaks. Beyond that, it’s like your parents told you – get plenty of sleep, drink water, eat vegetables, take regular exercise and try not to work in the evenings and at weekends if you can.

Alison-Killing_P3Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I read a LOT. It’s something I enjoy for its own sake, sometimes the content can be in some way relevant for a project I’m thinking about, but it also offers a really good way for me to find that relaxed, but focused place where I can do some proper thinking. I don’t tend to have ideas when I take a shower, or when I go for a walk, I have them when I’m reading.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | To learn to drive again, since I haven’t driven since I passed my test, quite some time ago.
Useful Links |
Twitter: @alisonkilling
Click here to watch Alison’s TED Talk:

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