Things I Have Learnt

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.
  • 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.