Modern Architecture In Australia - Where Is It Heading

An interesting topic this one, where to start is always a difficult task. Do we discuss the continuing push of volume builders & the cookie cutter Mc Mansions they continue to produce, or do we begin with discussing the repetitive & ever minimal structures being produced in over abundance by the current crop of Architects & Building Designers pushing unthoughtful & self righteous structures upon unsuspecting clients.

This topic is something that is dear to my heart & something that has frustrated me for as long as i have been in the industry. For too long now Architects & Building Designers seem to have forgotten the purpose of architecture & have focussed on creating self deluded structures that are all about how big an ego they may have. Not enough of what is being produced is focussed on the end result for the clients needs & sustainable design as should be.

I say this because sitting reading a current Architecture magazine i couldn't help but notice the amount of architecture that shouted "Fuck I'm A Great Architect, Aren't You Glad I Designed This House For You!" buildings in the book, that represented everything the architect wanted in the design & little of the clients needs or little environmental thought.

The stories that went with most of these buildings were all well written & all generally contained the Architect describing his/her reasoning for why some things were done. While i admit some of the design responses were site & environment driven. Far too many however, were the architect attempting to convince the client (sadly far to easily) that to add a particular detail would be in the projects best interest or to have it designed in the architects preferred extreme minimal & current style would be what they needed or hell even desired.

Yes i know we have to apportion some of the blame to glossy magazines & Tv shows marketed at the easily hypnotised population & yes sometimes the desire to out design your previous project means Architects & Building Designers will often try new things just for the sake of it. But i must stress that in an ever increasing environmentally concious world & with the ability for Architects & Dsigners to use their tools for good & not Ego i feel it is even more important that as Architects & Building Designers we listen closer to what our clients are talking about & listen closer to what the earth is saying to us.

Just because we may not like a certain stye that the client has decided upon doesn't mean it's our right as the appointed designer to force our clients into creating something that in most cases they are unaware that they even need or want. Too often we think about what design will be our next award winning design & what interesting "Things!" can we put into it to make it all that & more for the judges to woo over & too little do we consider what impacts our glorious designs are having on the earth.

Yes i will admit i have befallen the same fate on some ocassions early on in my career. I did my stint in the Volume builder industry producing display home after display home in, what seemed like a never ending cookie cutter machine, where we used the same boring plans but gave it a facelift to trick the ever unsuspecting client into thinking they were buying top of the range boutique volume built homes, when in fact most of the designs were simply re hashed plans from years before. Yes i was suckered into designing some projects in my own business (early on in its infancy), that contained portions that were simply, well for my Ego!! & all about me wanting to win some awards.

However it wasn't long before i came to realise i am designing houses for other people, not for myself. So after much soul searching & a lot of research & reviewing i came to the conclusion (many years ago) that unless we as Architects & Building Designers in Australia begin to shift our thinking we will forever be left with houses that don't perform the tasks they were intended to perform & will have an ever increasing hospital clinical feel to them. No soul & No heart & for what, so we can say we won an award.

So come on Architects & Building Designers, start listening closely to what your clients want & design to suit their styles & the wants & needs they have. Forget about your Ego & think about what you can offer the client in the way of sustainability & environmental design in the style they are after. it can be done, i know because i've done it. Yes every house i design carries with it some of my design style but not all of it is. A large portion is what the client wants, all i do is guide them along the way & discuss with them the consequence of what they request & suggest an alternative. if they decide against it i simply implement the desired design option in a sustainable way & to suit what they want.

Of course most of the time the project doesn't look like the sort of project you would see on a glossy magazine. Simply because it is designed for the client by the client & interpreted by me, the designer. But it does work & it they always look good & are just as worthy as your heartless boxes for awards because of the way they are designed (as homes not as shells) & the little impact they have on the environment. After all that is what architecture is. It's all about what the client wants & what the client needs. It's up to us as Architects & Building Designers to interpret what they desire & make it work, not to take what they want & kind of add it into our own desires of how we think the home we design for them should be.

I've had a couple of sayings for a while & i stick by them  as best i can "Architecture is for the people & Architecture is by the people, We as designers Simply Interpret the thoughts & desires into something stunning" the second is "Changing the world one sustainable house at a time". These sayings are the reasons i do what i do. It excites me each & every time a client moves into a finished home i have designed that is suited to what they want & works with the environment. After all isn't that what we were put here for, to Design houses that feel like homes for our clients. It's much more satisfying so give it a go.