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From idea, through iteration, to completion

While our creative processes and work methods have a lineage beyond our time at Rokeby Street, Collingwood, our new workplace mirrors these and provides a frame for who we are, and what we do. Where our city location allowed us to easily disperse into a wider populous, our move to the city fringe has brought a greater inward focus. We prepare meals together with the same interest and rigour that we have for resolving complexity in architectural detailing.

When we settle in to work, we work with an unspoken commitment to the collective experience of the built environment. We place great importance on the habitation of the places and spaces that we conceive, and we carefully contemplate their fabrication. We often begin by recalling history while also projecting into the future, with a view to placing our work within a wider social and cultural context. We draw upon many talents, and it is through conversation that we fold in various creative inputs.

We do not start work with a manifesto or position statement, as architects were once schooled to do. Instead we explore the complexity inherent in constraints, and find potential where there seemed to be none.

We return again and again to repeated themes and we explore the same themes across projects that vary in context, scale and purpose. We intuitively navigate a line that exists between a number of possible and perhaps more obvious outcomes. The end point is not always clear to us, and we are sure that at times our processes are baffling to others.

Our exploration might be by way of a serendipitous conversation while passing one another in the stairway, with a chance of forgetting whether one was ascending or descending.  Or, it might be aligning our thoughts and processes ahead of walking into a formal meeting for further interrogation with a wider audience, or a chat in the kitchen while brewing our tea.  Or it might be undertaken by a group of us huddled around a screen (or two) – an impromptu conversation staged by dragging across any available unoccupied chairs of our neighbouring colleagues. At other times we might stand around pinned drawings, or fire up a large format digital screen to broaden the projection  – the scattering of unique index finger marks that are left on the screen become remnants of a vigorous debate. These conversations are wide-ranging and inclusive – from articulating ideas, to forecasting and speculating on cost and quality outcomes. The contributions are varied and always insightful as we each bring to bear both our own experience and knowledge beyond architecture. An architectural draftsperson is also a cartoonist, and an architect a photographer. A graduate is also a researcher and editor, and another is recognised for their talents in digital animation. We have accomplished musicians and those with qualifications in the arts, socials sciences and landscape architecture.

While we thrive on competitions as a way to explore new ideas without certainty that they will be realised, we still celebrate the built outcome as amongst our greatest achievements.  We work in an open floor plate with project teams configured around a single bench and within earshot of each other. We are always conscious that our efforts are toward preparing drawings, models and directions for others who will construct the work.

We consistently refer back to the images, diagrams and planning outcomes of completed projects as reference points for evaluating a design idea. We might find ourselves employing various visualisation techniques in the fast-and-furious testing of an idea that may or may no longer hold, in parallel with the slow and steady review of construction detailing. We navigate a line between the conceptual basis of the project and the realities of the construction process.

And all the time we work within a context that continues to change – we continually engage with different procurement models, new technologies, the very real threat of climate change, the exponential growth of our cities, and the seemingly ever increasing constraints of cost and time, regulatory controls. If necessary we will discard one idea in view of replacing it with another – there are plenty more good ideas where that one came from. This approach allows us to remain resilient as the boundaries of architecture shift.

Meaghan Dwyer and Bill Krotiris

Originally published in This Building Likes Me

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