Things I have learned

Recently I read an article by a small business owner reflecting on what he learnt in the past 20 years of running a small business.

The article caused me to reflect on architecture and the things I have learnt over the past 15 years of running a practice.

Here’s my list thus far:
• Architecture is about scale, light, materials and composition.
• Architecture is by its nature a collaboration of people’s efforts and minds.
• A well-composed room is a real achievement.
• Rooms are our most basic experience of space.
• The integration of interior fit-outs, landscape and architecture is the goal.
• Thermal comfort and indoor air quality are no accident.
• We should spend more time reducing consumption by designing better spaces for people.
• We should involve sustainability consultants to get the best outcome.
• Passive solar design is ill-suited to the urban environment.
• Sustainability should not cost more and should not be considered an add-on feature.
• Environmental bling is a mistake and will cause problems down the track.
• We need to factor maintenance into projects as a way to continuously renew and improve our built environment.
• The amount of waste a building project generates is a real problem.
• We should all be building Passive Houses.
• We should build smaller and live large in community facilities.
• We should make our built environments places we would travel to visit.
• We should only use good quality materials.
• I am sceptical of any material that does not have mass.
• Discarded buildings teach us about how buildings respond to the environment.
• Architecture does not need to shout to make its presence felt.
• I hate seeing buildings being demolished but it’s crazy to retain facades for the sake of heritage.
• The more simple and well-resolved the spaces are, the greater the flexibility and usefulness of the building.
• Architecture is not photography.
• Technology and buildings are not great bedfellows.
• We should insulate everything and make space for cavities to allow spaces to breathe.
• We should never underestimate the potential risk of fire, falls or dangerous materials.
• The way I see architecture and the way a builder sees architecture is so different, yet we work to similar ends.
• Building sites are unnecessarily messy.
• Sub-contractors are smart but some are not as smart as they think.
• Computer drawings are necessary – however they can be rather soulless.
• I am fascinated by the effects of daylight in space.

The real lesson I have learned in the past 15 years of architectural practice is that, more than anything, architecture matters to us as a community.

It enriches our experience of the environment and is the framework for people to live their lives.

It is a difficult thing to get right.

However, when it comes together as an idea it is pretty special.