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The Brief - Building Designers Australia Winter 2013

Building Designers Australia Winter Magazine 2013

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The Brief - Building Designers Australia Winter 2013

  1. 1. winter 2013 $8.50 warm reflections building designers australia the rief
  2. 2. They’re more durable and are guaranteed to meet AS1397. At BlueScope Steel we continually work to develop products that meet the changing needs of our built environment for generations to come. So you can be inspired to create with next generation steel. BlueScope Steel has set a benchmark within Australian building for generations. So when we decided to raise the bar we made absolutely sure our products would perform beyond expectations. Our next generation steels have been developed and assessed over almost 20 years and have been proven in real world environments as well as accelerated testing. The result is next generation ZINCALUME® and TRUECORE® steel with patented Activate™ technology, arriving mid 2013. ZINCALUME® , TRUECORE® and BlueScope are registered trade marks and Activate™ is a trade mark of BlueScope Steel Limited. © 2012 BlueScope Steel Limited ABN 16 000 011 058. All rights reserved. BDB32689a8G 1800 675 230 Nextgenerationsteelfor the nextgenerationofbuildingdesigner coming mid 2013
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  4. 4. 4  the brief Disclaimer, terms and conditions: Any advice printed in this publication is produced in good faith but strictly on the understanding that neither the BDAA Ltd, nor Pond Publications or persons contributing to the publication incur any legal liability whatsoever for the correctness or accuracy (including liability for negligence). Should the information be incorrect or otherwise defective, all liability is disclaimed. All advertisements are accepted on the following terms and conditions: BDAA Ltd. and Pond Publications have the right to refuse to publish any advertisement or material. No liability shall be incurred by the BDAA Ltd. or Pond Publications by reason of any error, inaccuracy or amendment to, or the partial or total omission of any advertisement or by reason of any delay, or default or from any other cause whatsoever. Neither BDAA Ltd nor Pond Publications can be held responsible for any errors in multiple insertion material after the first issue of publication. The views expressed by guest columnists are entirely those of the author. Managing Editor: Rochelle James 0402 853 989 Consulting Editor: Gary McGay 0407 981 911 The BRIEF Building Designers Australia Published by Pond Publications Suite 6, 199 Bulwer Street, Perth WA 6000 Printed and distributed by Vanguard Press 26 John Street, Northbridge WA 6003 Advertising: Aleshia Bowes (08) 9228 0698 Contributors: Dick Clarke, Trevor King, Oscar Fong, Ovie Taylor, Martin Farley Cartoonist: Greg Smith Pre-press: Melinda Sandosham welcome in this issue7 PRESIDENT’S PAGE Interstate co-operation and continued member interaction hold the key to a healthy BDA future 8 DESIGN FEATURE Don Taylor’s light-filled riverside award-winner is a sparkling example of a design that milks every last ray of winter sunshine 15 SPATIAL DESIGN Oscar Fong takes readers on the first leg of a journey to the core of an emerging design discipline 18 MY SAY Veteran designer Ovie Taylor shares his enthusiasm for the benefits and rewards of BDA involvement 20 SPIRIT OF PLACE Trevor King sees hope in the take-up of bioregionalism as a tool for designers to break free of the modernist architectural influence 25 THE BIG PICTURE Dick Clarke is not convinced that the right bushfire regulatory balance has been struck between design freedom and fire risk management 28 MY SAY Dick Clarke is a passionate advocate for a Yes vote in the upcoming referendum to lock in Constitutional recognition for local government 32 PRACTICE MANAGEMENT Martin Farley homes in market awareness as an important key to unlocking the secrets of business resilience 35 DESIGNER PROFILE Melanie Symington bares her design soul for all to share as a case study for professional success 38 PRODUCT PROFILE Truecore framework by Bluescope Steel winter 2013 $8.50 warm reflections building designers australia the rief 12 19 ‘Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.’ Contemporary northern hemisphere poet Edith Sitwell was right on the money with her oblique reference to the importance of home in her verse on the essence of winter. So, too, was Don Taylor with his contemporary southern hemisphere design solution for a winter-friendly riverside home near Fremantle. It sets the mood for a season in which comfort is paramount. We hope you can take professional comfort in the words of our winter offering. Rochelle Front Cover The winter sun fills this Don Taylor-designed home with light and warmth on the site of the Swan River Colony’s first vineyard.
  5. 5. the brief  7 president ’s page BDA is an association that espouses interaction between members, both within Chapters and between Chapters. This really is the main strength of our association, and the highlight of this interaction occurs at the National Conference where members of all Chapters mix to celebrate the National Design Awards. This year, the Conference and Design Awards presentation will be held in Melbourne from October 24-26. I would extend an invitation to all members to attend and be part of the greater BDA family. If you have never been to a National Conference, now is the time to rectify that omission in your life! You’ll feel so much better for the experience. Recently, the presidents and vice-presidents of each Chapter met with representatives of both BDAQ and BDAV to discuss a possible liaison between the various groups. There is much yet to be discussed, but it is encouraging that the first steps have been taken to, hopefully, lead to a more united BDA family that can represent our members, especially on the national stage. Please feel free to talk with your individual Chapter council regarding progress of these talks. It has been suggested that the current downturn in the building industry, especially in the eastern states, is about to turn the corner and we will see an increased level of activity over the coming months and years. At the same time, the HIA and MBA have warned of a manpower crisis as a result of this increased activity. We as building designers must be ready for this, and we need to make sure that within our own practices we have the capacity to handle both current workloads and any possible increases. BDA has been actively involved in the preparation of the new nationally recognised Building Design Training Packages, and to date we have seen the introduction of the Diploma in Building Design and the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Building Design. State-based TAFE colleges and other RTOs have introduced these courses in this year’s curricula. Currently we are working on the Certificate IV in Building Design Drafting, and this is progressing in a satisfactory manner. We should see the introduction of this by the end of this year. This will complete the Building Design Training Package suite and provide a full career path for building designers as a viable alternative to a university degree. For, as we all know, not everyone has the opportunity to attend university. Co-operation between states has been paramount in the success of these programs and clearly demonstrates what a united BDA can achieve. Ian Bassett National President Platinum National Partner Gold National Partner National Partner Building Designers Australia T: 1300 669 854 E: F: (02) 4968 9981 W: A: PO Box 592, Hunter Region MC NSW 2310 President – Ian Bassett Vice President – Phil Ker Development Executive – Martin Farley National Councillors Tas Monty East (03) 6223 6740 Tas Theresa Hatton (03) 6334 7144 NSW Ian Bassett (02) 6584 2601 NSW Chris Reardon (02) 4822 1342 WA Phil Ker (08) 9367 1636 WA Ian Ogborne (08) 9384 4282 SA John Bryant (08) 8362 8860 SA Bill Adams (08) 8381 7758
  6. 6. DesignfeatureDONTAYLOR 8  the brief winter solace There’s something about Fremantle that caters for a multitude of tastes. There are those who lust after the carefree trappings of its bohemian influence as a place to call home, and there are those who find it a fascinating place to visit without necessarily wanting to live there. But just across the water in fashionable Bicton, there are those who take regular advantage of Freo’s signature escapism whenever it suits, knowing they are within eyesight of the relative peace and quiet of their own, somewhat less energetic, riverside home base. Sipping wine on a Bicton balcony overlooking the southern reaches of the Swan River as it wends its way past Fremantle to the Indian Ocean is a significant thing to do on a sun-soaked winter’s day as the warming rays stream in from upriver, washing over the north-facing living areas. For it was here more than 170 years ago that the first vineyard of the fledgling Swan River Colony was established, with almost 6000 vines planted to please the palates of the colonial gentry. It was here, too, that building designer Don Taylor was commissioned many years later to‘bottle the sights and sounds’of a stunning absolute riverfront location for an expatriate client coming back to the laid-back Freo doorstep precinct after five years living in the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. DON TAYLOR DTDA Design Team BDA WA
  7. 7. The gentle lapping of the ripples on the riverbank provided the perfect overture to a design conceived to capitalise on the block’s natural allure. the brief  9 The gentle lapping of the ripples on the riverbank directly across the street provided the perfect overture to a design conceived to capitalise on the block’s natural allure. With an undercroft garage and two guest bedrooms with ensuites tucked in rammed earth walls with deep-set windows looking to the water at street level, the main residence centres on a landscaped upper-level courtyard around which the living areas connect to make the most of the tranquil riverside ambience . Set among mature frangipanis, a bubbling pond and a supersized pergola, the front door is concealed in a striking panel of anodised bronze aluminium. Inside, the kitchen and dining room wing, with its timber cabinetry and striking 7.5m stainless steel bench, enjoy views out to the lap pool as well as through and around the courtyard and glassy pavilion that accommodates the living room and study, where stacker doors opening both to the courtyard and along the river side of the room are designed to maximise the outdoor experience. With the added attraction of a steel balustrade, the living room becomes a balcony in its own right. Extensive use of louvres and external blinds allow breezes and sounds into the room without the afternoon sun in summer, and fill the zone with warmth and light when the openings are adjusted to take advantage of the area’s equally pleasant winter influences.
  8. 8. 10  the brief 0 10 20 N BLACKWALLREACHPARADE GROUND FLOOR PLAN POOL ROOM KITCHEN DINING STUDY LAUNDRY WC LIVING ROOM ENTRY SWIMMING POOL 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 12 13 14 23 20 5
  9. 9. the brief  11 A central staircase between the two wings links all three levels, with the uppermost level accommodating a master bedroom suite for which a special design focus was required. This had everything to do with the clients’fondness for hotel rooms. With a brief only to ensure the well- travelled couple would always be able to experience that same feeling of relaxing in five-star luxury, a long design leash was let out. The result is an ultra-stylish self- contained hotel-style suite including a concealed tea preparation area and relaxing bathroom. A timber-veneer wall of robes is backed by the ensuite storage and washbasins, freestanding stone-clad bath and shower. Large sliding doors hide the tea-prep area that extends from the external wall, incorporating a dishwasher, bar fridge and an instant hot water outlet. Its white Corian finish gives it a crisp, clean feel. The bedroom itself is simple but generous and opens to amazing views with a covered balcony.
  10. 10. 12  the brief Positioned above the living room pavilion, it’s height above the road, and automatic external blinds that screen the windows and balcony, provide a reassuring sense of privacy without compromising the brilliant outlook. Materials and space combine to give the entire project a defining presence. A palette of natural stone, timber, white plaster and grey polished dado render, together with the use of oversized bronze aluminium battens for both internal and external screens, helps to eliminate the usual senses of demarcation between inside and out. With the cabinetry forming as much a part of the planning as the walls, and doors being concealed where possible, there are few barriers to inhibit the inviting space. 
  11. 11. Materials and space combine to give the entire project a defining presence the brief  13
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  13. 13. Focusing on the flow of space between interior and exterior environments, the emphasis of spatial design is on working with people and space the brief  15 crossing the spatial threshold Wikipedia describes spatial design as“a relatively new discipline that crosses the boundaries of traditional design disciplines such as architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and landscape design”. Ultimately, it notes, spatial design can be seen as“the glue that joins traditional built environment disciplines together”. Spatial design had its genesis as a course of formal study in the UK, where several institutions now offer programs. In Australia, only Sydney’s UTS has such a seat. Focusing on the flow of space between interior and exterior environments, the emphasis of spatial design is on working with people and space. As a growth area of design, its practitioners generally work within existing disciplines, such as architecture or building design, or as independent consultants. One such pioneer of the discipline in Australia is BDA WA member OSCAR FONG, whose design practice, FOICE, has been specialising in spatial design consultancy since 2011. While also offering traditional bespoke design services on architectural, interior and landscape projects, Oscar maintains the injection of spatial design principles in his strategic planning solutions helps his residential and commercial building design clients achieve both financial and mental wellbeing. His specialities include spatial experience design, branded environment design and user experience design to assist businesses in attracting and retaining customers and staff. Here, he offers a practical insight into the application of the spatial design philosophy as a tool for enhancing the design outcomes of projects that require a sensitive balance of structure and social stimulus. OSCAR FONG Foice BDA WA SpatialdesignOSCARFONG
  14. 14. Science can now explain why it is no mere coincidence for people to have attachments to places 16  the brief Are you as curious as I was? Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to your favourite places? It might be the local park where you take your dog for a walk, or the coffee shop near your office where you take your daily caffeine hit. There are scientific explanations for such phenomena. In neuroscience it is now understood that strong emotions related to actions and places are ingredients for the formation of lasting impressions. Places that incur the greatest positive emotional arousal are remembered with the deepest impressions. The coffee shop’s positive experiences may have been a combination of the rich coffee aroma, the friendly personal greeting, the funky clock on the wall, or the attractive barista who helped to brighten your day, every day. Science can now explain why it is no mere coincidence for people to have attachments to places. With a new understanding of the‘why’, there are now ways to replicate and redesign these experiences. The next stage in evolution Spatial design is the next evolutionary stage of architecture. In the history of the architectural profession we have seen many influential figures carving out new career pathways with specialisation. They do so initially to satisfy their personal creative interests but also as innovators to solve real societal needs. Zaha Hadid is a world-famous architect – and arguably the wealthiest, according to the Forbes Rich List. Her unique style has been applied to many public institution designs. However, in recent years, her personal interest in designing female shoes spawned a new fashion product line inspired by her signature style and forms. Zaha is a recent example of an evolutionary trend that can be referenced at key moments in architectural history. There are influential contemporary architects who have consciously chosen to specialise in interior environments and subsequently adopted the title of interior architects. In the modern period, Le Corbusier had visions of creating Utopian cities, and our colleagues who followed his city design footsteps now call themselves urban designers. Charles Eames is remembered in architectural school for his Case Study House No.8, but what really ignited his career was in fact his famous Eames Chair, conceived as a furniture design. The next logical progression in design evolution is new specialisation that acknowledges the subconscious human response far more than ever.
  15. 15. the brief  17 In the New Economy, businesses should seek to attract customers by providing value and positive user experiences So what exactly is spatial design? Being a relatively new discipline, the definition may vary from person to person depending on one’s interest and interpretation. My personal definition, and the manner in which I practise, is to place emphasis on designing for heightened emotional engagement in spatial environments. It is about creating emotive anchors that capture and influence one’s consciousness and subconsciousness for a specific outcome. I do so by focusing the design effort in liminal spaces, or spatial thresholds, between different spatial environments. Designers in this discipline can be considered the adhesives between other traditional disciplines, such as architecture, interior design, landscape design and urban design, because they create the seamless spatial flow between the spatial environments. The coffee shop analogy Following the story of the coffee shop, there are many ways in which a spatial designer may provide creative strategic design solutions to improve the business by improving its spatial environment. In the Old Economy, businesses are under financial stress, particularly in the hospitality and retail industries. They are doing it tough because they often resort to discount strategies of down-selling, or price warfare, to attract and retain customers. A recent media expose of this condition focused on several businesses in suburban Mt Lawley (WA) that had resorted to promoting $2 coffees. From a business promotion perspective, it would certainly attract immediate public attention, but is it a financially sustainable strategy? In the New Economy, businesses should not seek to compete only on price but instead seek to attract customers by providing value and positive user experiences – qualities which spatial designers may assist in conveying through the physical environment. The concept of up-selling is very simple – creating a positive and memorable environment so customers will visit repeatedly, discounting any objection to price. As a spatial designer harking back to the neuroscience understandings, my interest is to create a stage where we can influence the actions of customers through the space while provoking designed emotive responses at strategic interactive locations. One of many spatial solutions I would prescribe for Mt Lawley businesses predominantly engaged in take-away coffee sales would be to consider the engagement experiences at point of sale, encouraging the business owners to question the existing purpose and effectiveness of their coffee counter. Is the counter simply a place for transaction or could it serve for more than one purpose? Is there a possibility the space could engage the customers while waiting for their coffee with a queue of 20 ahead of them? Do the queuing customers stand chaotically around the barista or would directing the queue in a certain direction entice them to purchase other merchandise such as cakes, brownies or big cookies? As a spatial designer, I strategically analyse how design may bring new sales opportunities to those mundane engagement points. Drawing understandings from environmental and sales psychology, behavioural science and interior architecture we may influence customers to create specific purchase patterns once they engage the point of sale area of the business. Food for thought This example illustrates just one spatial design opportunity to improve the financial wellbeing of an eatery. The same results are not achieved by following only the traditional design solutions of the architectural discipline. The New Economy demands not only a decorated building from designers. We now need to consider how the external and internal spatial elements may bring value to the business as a strategic planning service.  FRATELLE Group Bindoon Café bakery, WA
  16. 16. somebody who cares Veteran building designer and BDA pioneer OVIE TAYLOR has had a colourful and varied career in the industry. Now in semi-retirement at Rowella, in Tasmania’s picturesque Tamar Valley region, he shares a personal perspective on the important role that BDA participation played in the evolution of a fortunate working life, peppered with words of wisdom for designers who choose to be less active or interested in association affairs. Lilly Tomlins is quoted as remarking:“When I was young, I wanted to grow up to be somebody. Now I realise I should have been more specific”. Finishing high school at 17 in South Africa, at the start of my working career I had very few aspirations of professional achievement, let alone ambitions of becoming “somebody”. Therefore, looking back at a working life spanning 50 years from a position on the right side of retirement has been an interesting as well as thought-provoking exercise. My entry into a civil engineering drawing office as an apprentice draughtsman (still spelt properly then) came about as a result of encouragement from someone who saw more potential in me than I was aware of in myself. A casual word from a stranger changed my life. For a while I was content to find fulfilment in the pursuit of producing the best, most technically comprehensive drawings second to no-one in a large government drawing office. But like school, the academic side of my‘qualifications’held little interest for me. Despite ending up in charge of an office producing the tender documents for the New Table Bay Harbour in Cape Town (a billion dollar venture in today’s terms), it become clear that without that seemingly irrelevant piece of paper, my future prospects would hit a brick wall, which there was no way through or around. I left in 1972 and pursued a strictly architectural career in Australia. After more than 15 years working for various architects, prospects of professional recognition were not much better. My passion for design in fact became an obstacle. The boss just wanted a draftsman, not a competitor. I desperately wanted to start my own business but lacked confidence, because this time the barrier to success was the fact that one was either an architect, who designed buildings, or just a draftsman who drew the plans that architects designed. As my design skills developed, I could not help but exercise them – but you can’t have two cooks in the same kitchen. Someone had to go. When I was eventually replaced by just a draftsperson (yes I have lived through all the changes), I had built up a modest part-time clientele with local builders – a common pre-building designer scenario – but I had little expectation for future professional viability. I was still just a draftsman. Try for another job or go it alone? Destiny once again intervened through a friend calling in at just the right moment, encouraging, insisting, demanding…. go for it! I did. MysayOVIETAYLOR 18  the brief OVIE TAYLOR BDAT
  17. 17. A number of years later, working in a little office, all alone, charging a pittance so as not to be undercut by the other draftsmen who were my‘enemy’out there, things were going far better than I had anticipated, despite myself. But there still lacked that essential element – professional recognition. My third life-changing experience, professionally speaking, then came about. In 1994 I heard of and subsequently attended a meeting of the Building Designers Association of New South Wales along with, it turned out, a few other draftsmen from my area. Within a few months we had established the Blue Mountains and Riverlands Branch of BDANSW. ‘Enemies’became friends. We worked together for the mutual benefit of design, the built environment and the public. And the rest, as they say, is history. At last that seemingly impenetrable barrier was gone. Finally, I had an identity. I was a professional building designer. I had become, in a sense,‘somebody’. The confidence gained enabled me to take on organisational roles that I never would have contemplated as being possible. Interestingly, the more I gave, the more I received, but in far greater abundance, personally, professionally and financially. Others who take on leadership responsibilities will attest to this. The significance of the freedom to fly attained by this professional design identity attained through the BDA would be appreciated mostly by my peers who have followed similar paths in their careers. It is this awareness that has driven the passion of our former leaders at state or branch level to develop, promote and advance the organisation to the status it enjoys today. Without the BDA we would have remained ‘nobodies’. Lose it and we could quite possibly revert to no longer being‘somebody’. I wonder if some members, particularly those who never did face those identity challenges understand or appreciate this. Should anyone wonder what the point is in belonging to a professional organisation such as the BDA, or whether they need bother attending meetings or functions, getting involved in the development and maintenance of it, or supporting those who do, should ponder the implications very carefully. The greatest tragedy would be to lose what was fought for so bravely, through apathy or neglect. Footnote: It is essential to evolve from a‘what’s in it for me’attitude, to one of ‘what can we achieve together, and how can I help’form of thinking. As we do, it is worth being aware of how a seemingly casual, but well-considered word from any of us can make a life-changing difference to someone who needs it at a particular time of life.   ABOVE Ovie’s office at Rowella, in Tasmania’s picturesque Tamar Valley region. The more I gave, the more I received, but in far greater abundance, personally, professionally and financially the brief  19
  18. 18. SpiritofplaceTREVORKING 20  the brief succumbing to the regional allure TREVOR KING grapples with the influences of modernism on the emergence of placelessness in globalised urban environments and cuts a swathe through the layers of community consciousness to uncover the essence of regionalism and embed its importance in the post-modern building design mindset. Today’s world is full of complexity and degrees of change that are quite unlike anything that’s gone before. In attempting to comprehend and relate to it all, I find myself oscillating between feelings of nascent understanding and puzzled estrangement. Local and regional issues remain familiar and accessible enough, but the wider globalised arena often seems baffling, overwhelming and much harder to connect to. Our immersion into the global sphere has meant that the relatively simple connections that localities afforded to people in pre-modern societies have been largely supplanted. We commonly relate to other people through communities of interest that can be world-wide in scope. Places now act as a dynamic interface between the local and the international. This is absolutely unprecedented. As knowledge has become more widely accessible there’s been a trend throughout the Western world towards‘subsidiarity’, the shrinking of central governments and the devolution of responsible decision-making to local and regional communities. In combination, globalisation and subsidiarity impose challenging and unpredictable demands on individuals, and on communities. The complexity is compounded by cultural references to a‘post-modern condition’, where nothing can be known with any certainty, and where the‘grand narratives’ of science, history and cultural cohesion are repudiated. Ecological concerns are prominent, along with multiple social movements. We may well feel inclined to forsake the impulse of working together to find solutions – there are so many contested points of view to reconcile that it’s all become impossibly difficult. The general confusion is exacerbated by the mixed usage of terms such as globalisation (the practice of corporate/internationalist power), globalism (its ideology), post-modernism within the arts (‘pomo’for short, and distinguished by eclecticism and the ironic use of pastiche), and a post-modernist attitude which sees society as so fractured through the commercialisation and trivialisation of culture that no social consensus is possible. TREVOR KING Heritage Consultant BDA NSW Our immersion into the global sphere has meant that the relatively simple connections that localities afforded to people in pre-modern societies have been largely supplanted
  19. 19. the brief  21 Thankfully, the prominent sociologist Anthony Giddens has provided a quite different and timely analysis that, for me, seems more grounded and refreshingly real. Within his influential study of modernity, he argued that a post-modern society is yet to arrive in any meaningful way; that what we are actually experiencing is the emergence of a more completely developed and consolidated form of modernity instead. And with the exception of areas where it is being actively resisted, its impact and reach have become practically universal. I have often pondered over the tenacious grip that functional modernism exerts over architectural expression, flirtations with‘pomo’and faux‘heritage’aside. Now I understand – modernism didn’t actually go anywhere. These ideas have clear implications to a contemporary understanding of‘place’ in all its forms, from the geographic, right through to our social and personal perspectives. The conditions of modernity As a way of life, modernity lies in stark contrast with all social forms that preceded its development. From hunter gathering, through the rise of horticulture, agrarian societies and early industrial capitalism, the vast majority of people formed connections at a local, and at most regional, level. Their knowledge of the world and of themselves was constrained by rigid social structures and limits to mobility. Connections to time were seasonal and cyclic, and were fundamentally associated with the range/place of habitation. In this worldview, time and place belong together. Life is ordered and largely predictable. Temporal connections differ from place to place, from culture to culture and there are differing interpretations of time. In contradistinction to this, modernism decisively disconnects time from place. The precise measurement of time and space (which began with the widespread use of mechanical clocks in the late 18th century, and the adoption of standardised calendars and ways of charting the globe through advanced navigation techniques) resulted in the‘emptying’of place. The subjective human experience of a localised place-in-time has been irresistibly tied into its global context. Modernity is inherently future-oriented – anticipation of an unknown future has become part of the present. Relations between people have also been lifted beyond their localised contexts of interaction. Socially constructed mechanisms such as the nation state and the use of money and telecommunications services to purchase goods and services at a distance mean that social relations have been transported out of their‘situatedness’ in specific locales. A community’s economic activities, political and ecological impacts are no longer tied to its geographic location. In the sense of an embedded I have often pondered over the tenacious grip that functional modernism exerts over architectural expression
  20. 20. 22  the brief affinity to place, traditional understandings of‘community’are transformed. Thus, modernity is inherently globalising. Individuals become connected to large-scale systems and changing circumstances at local, national and international levels. The widespread availability of information has produced a circular relationship (known as reflexivity) where knowledge obtained from within the public domain feeds back to individuals and into society itself in an ongoing and continuous way, thereby undermining the establishment of fixed viewpoints and existing traditions. This is an energising but destabilising influence. Within industrialised societies, ‘high modernity’has cut people loose from tradition, effectively involving the institutionalisation of doubt. Modernism is inherently unsettling. It undermines long-established understandings, removes psychological securities and, as its reach has stretched across the globe, its technological and economic prowess has progressively weakened the privileged position that the West formerly enjoyed. The dynamic interplay of these revolutionary elements is characterised by Giddens as“modernity coming to understand itself”rather than changing into a post- modernist state: reflexivity is an inherent characteristic of modernism and thus, “modernity turns out to be enigmatic at its core”and there is no way to predict its evolution. An intuitive awareness of this complex and uncertain situation filters into the collective consciousness, producing an unspoken anxiety with which we all live. The revival of regionalism The end of WW2 ushered in the final demise of colonialism, yet from that time the forces of globalism have only accelerated. For citizens in Western societies, unforeseen impacts are emerging. Giddens quotes Miles and Irvine (1982): There is some evidence that many people in economically advanced states experience “development fatigue”, and much evidence of a general awareness that continued economic growth is not worthwhile unless it actively improves the quality of life of the majority. We also see increasing evidence of calls for local autonomy, regional interconnectedness and the preservation of cultural heritage and identity. The alienation of‘place’from modernist aesthetics has inevitably led to the blank walls and transparent surfaces that dominate its typology, along with a divorce from the expression of natural forms. The use of patterning and floral motifs was confined to the dustbin of history. Modern cities look practically identical with a pervasive urban sameness. Such banal uniformity is countered within the architectural movement known as critical regionalism. Critical regionalism: design that links the local and regional to the international Architectural expression that simultaneously relates to its location (using place-derived forms and materials) and to internationalist influences is central to this approach to design. While there is an understandable distancing from simply replicating or directly imitating vernacular materials and forms, there is a concomitant avoidance of‘placelessness’. Manifestations of the natural and cultural history of the region are layered in an attempt to respectfully reflect the idiosyncrasies of the place. This humble and context-sensitive approach still retains the right to be critical of provincial approaches to building, and to the blind imposition of the‘international style’. The result is a synthesis of local, regional and cosmopolitan influences. This approach also reinforces the notion of‘place-making’as a counter to the idea of‘development’which appears somehow value-neutral – as some disembodied, inevitable process that just happens regardless of the decision-making that goes on around it. Place-making locates the process squarely within the human/cultural, as distinct from a simply physical/economic, sphere. Manifestations of the natural and cultural history of the region are layered in an attempt to respectfully reflect the idiosyncrasies of the place
  21. 21. the brief  23 The combination of elements used to define regional ecosystems provides an ideal and readily available tool for designers Bioregionalism and sustainable community development Impacting on the thinking of the environmental movements within North America and Europe, bioregionalism seeks the realignment of political, cultural and ecological systems within naturally defined areas, called bioregions. The viewpoint emphasises that bioregions are a cultural phenomenon, acknowledges the role of localised populations, knowledge, and solutions, and recognises each citizen’s personal stake in the proper management of regional ecosystems. Members of the worldwide cultural movement for sustainable communities also express a shared intention to combine their socio-economic and environmental concerns in ways that will enhance the well-being of both human and non-human communities within bioregions. Bioregions and regional ecosystems in Australia Within the Australian land mass, 89 Interim Biogeographic Regions and 419 sub- regions have been identified (see map ). A bioregion is an area delineated by broad landscape patterns that reflect the major geological structure, climate patterns and broad groups of plants and animals. Each region is made up of a group of interacting ecosystems that occur across the landscape. Regional ecosystems are defined as vegetation communities that are consistently associated with a particular combination of geology, landform and soil in a bioregion. The combination of elements used to define regional ecosystems provides an ideal and readily available tool for designers wishing to accurately source and express regionally specific information. Consider the contrasting colour palettes in wildflowers from adjacent sub-regions within the south-east corner bioregion. This is a minute example of what Australia has to offer. Responsiveness to place is integral to cultural resilience and to social sustainability. When connected to the idiosyncrasies of individual places, it’s clear that we now have a truly astonishing range of potentials to explore.  Map illustrating biographic regionalisation for Australia
  22. 22. Building in bushfire prone areas has always been a question of balancing the risk against the rewards  ThebigpictureDICKCLARKE the brief  25 where there’s smoke there’s ire DICK CLARKE is no shrinking violet when it comes to taking a stand in the face of adversity. In the course of a career that has pitched the sensitivity of the building designer against the unstoppable forces of nature more than once, he has seen off his fair share of flashpoints. But he questions whether there has been too much expensive regulatory over-reaction to a bushfire menace that can be handled in other, more rational ways, to lighten the design burden. It’s a question of balance: sweet versus sour, bass versus treble, regulation versus free market … and cost versus benefit. Building in bushfire prone areas has always been a question of balancing the risk against the rewards: the risk of serious damage or even total annihilation against the benefit of connection with a bit of nature. The balance has changed since the rather hurried release and implementation of AS3959-2009 Construction of buildings in bushfire-prone areas (AS3959). That is, between freedom of design and choice in construction detailing, balanced against minimising risk of damage while offering a protective space in a fire event. But has the right balance been struck? In conversations with some highly experienced bushfire consultants, and from my own experience of bushfire fighting and design going back to 1979, I will stick my neck out and say no. The pendulum swung too far following the tragic Victorian Black Saturday fires of 2009. I suggest that the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) prepared by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) needs to be revised. The current standard provides no certainty of benefit, at significant cost. Let me clarify a few things before the outrage begins. Fire hose in hand, I have stared down the barrel of the gun, and do not underestimate the ferocity and power of a major fire. It is terrifying, and anybody who tells you otherwise has not been there. I have designed houses in fire prone areas, and been around to protect them successfully, during fire events. I have worked with manufacturers to develop construction systems that assist in making buildings more defendable. In short, I understand the issues. However, I do not pretend to have all the answers. Here, I am attempting to highlight problems with the current regulation, and encourage all relevant parties – industry and expert consultants, CSIRO, ABCB, and state planning technocrats – to have another look. DICK CLARKE Master of Sustainable Futures BDA NSW
  23. 23. There is very little certainty that any structure can withstand the onslaught of a megafire 26  the brief There are a number of assumptions in the underlying paradigm that have not been questioned. The occurrence of megafires Black Saturday was a megafire: a fire of almost unimaginable ferocity and magnitude. There have been several megafires before, most notably in 1939 and 1983, both in Victoria. There is no record of megafires prior to the 20th century, and indeed, the further back in Australia’s post-1788 history you look, the fewer and smaller the wildfires become. Bill Gammage’s headland 2011 book The Biggest Estate on Earth details why: fire was a tool used delicately, regularly and with great intelligence to farm the land by Aboriginal society, a significant by-product of which was to maintain a landscape largely open and park-like, with a very low risk of large wildfires. However, our notion of wilderness is now unbroken tracts of bushland with little, if any management, which sets the background framework for an over- arching assumption that uncontrolled bushfires will occur, and that big ones are unavoidably common. As climate change dries out the lower third of the continent, these will increasingly become megafires. I challenge the assumption that this situation is unavoidable. It was once managed successfully by Aboriginal people – it can be managed again. Survivability in a megafire Much of the intent of AS3959 has to do with providing a building that will protect the occupants for the duration of a fire front’s passing, usually less than 15 minutes. In moderate fires, this is a relatively achievable outcome, although no regulatory document guarantees this – that would be very brave indeed. There is very little certainty that any structure can withstand the onslaught of a megafire. Radiant heat loads literally go off the scale, wind speeds exceed 120kmh, and flying debris makes a firestorm akin to Armageddon.
  24. 24. Fire is an essential part of Australia’s ecosystems, and an overhaul of how we think of it is long overdue the brief  27 A week or so after Black Saturday, I inspected several areas on the fire grounds of Steel Creek and Clonbinane in Victoria. Clonbinane is on the western edge of the megafire’s path, close to its point of ignition, and resembled many other burnt and partially burnt landscapes I have seen over the years. Steel Creek, however, like Kinglake, is near the eastern side of the great swathe, and faced the full force of the blaze. It was like nothing I have ever seen before: a moonscape, not a leaf on the ground, no twigs left on trees, trunks even deep in ravines snapped off at half height. Blue and white police tape still around so many houses, even of brick and stone, where charred bodies still lay, some clutching the remains of their fire hose. And yet here and there, survivors – still desperate to debrief and tell their stories. How had some houses, and their occupants, survived? That was why we were there – to try to figure that out. But in the end we could only conclude that a few got lucky. So what is the point of stringent BAL-FZ (flame zone) construction requirements? The standard answer is that it increases the likelihood of survival. But if that likelihood is increased from zero to perhaps 50 per cent (and there are many who would not rate it that highly), is it just raising false hope? The best advice is surely to evacuate. The financial burden of BAL-40, and especially BAL-FZ, construction detailing makes many houses unaffordable, in preparation for an event that may happen once in a decade or longer, or may never happen. This is in stark contrast to other regulatory requirements such as thermal performance, where the benefit applies nine months of the year, every year. Perhaps we should look at the benefit of a complete reversal of‘protection’, and allow FZ buildings to be totally sacrificial, on the basis that in urban areas evacuation is by far the most sensible precaution. In non-urban areas, property owners could be given the option of having a bushfire shelter instead. Such buildings would necessarily be ultra-lightweight, with little material and energy debt. Good thermal performance can be achieved using organic insulation products and vegetable-based phase change materials. Rigid and illogical risk assessment and methodology The third fault identified by expert consultants is the inflexibility of the BAL assessment methodology. Assessment factors are principally the locality’s fire danger index (FDI), the site’s topography, vegetation type and density. These are certainly the appropriate factors, but the method used does not anticipate all the unique variations that each site presents, and as there is no scope for expert variation. One often gets self-evidently overstated BAL ratings. The current method is a blunt instrument, and must be revised to allow greater scope for expert consultants to offer the relevant consent authority a well reasoned variation to the codified result. The RFS in NSW or the CFA in Victoria would still have the opportunity to review the submitted rating, and reject it if they have better information. Conclusion Fire is an essential part of Australia’s ecosystems, and an overhaul of how we think of it is long overdue. I suggest that the rather hurried introduction of AS3959’s revision in 2010 was at least partially a knee-jerk reaction by politicians and their mandarins who needed to be seen to be doing something. Hard research-based data, careful non-political consideration, and a mindset that questions the status quo are all essential ingredients to a more sustainable outcome. We have no shortage of good hard data on fire behaviour in structures, and a great pool of evolving knowledge around bushfire behaviour. And we know with increasing certainty what climate change will mean for our bushland. What we need now are the last two ingredients: careful review, devoid of political grandstanding and posturing, and a nationwide acknowledgement that our notion of pristine bushland and wilderness may be utterly misplaced. 
  25. 25. colonial dinosaurs facing extinction At a time when state governments around the country are wielding big sticks in the pursuit of local government rationalisation through amalgamation, DICK CLARKE is not likely to win any friends in Macquarie Street with his random commentary on the relative worth of each tier of the Australian democratic model. In his campaign for a Yes vote in the upcoming federal election referendum, he eagerly anticipates the beginning of the end for the“troublesome”middle tier. September 14 may well see a change of government, although‘unlosable’elections have been lost before today. But it also sees us all vote in a referendum to decide if local government should be recognised in the Australian Constitution. Many people in the community are unaware that this is currently not the case. For various reasons – some good, some bad – state governments find local governments annoying. Too many NIMBYs*, too small to be viable, too quick to point out the State’s failings, always too loud in crying poor. It’s a fact that local government is the most immediate tier of our unwieldy governmental structure, the most connected to the community. This is a good thing. In fact, it’s essential to have a tier of government which is awake to and acting on local issues. Any government beyond the local level loses touch, and the community feels left out. What is also essential is a national government. Defence, foreign affairs and trade, health, education, major catchments and ecosystem management, national energy markets and long range strategic planning – all these sit naturally on the relevant desks in Canberra. So what is state government for? What can state governments do that either local or national governments can’t? You tell me, because I can’t find a thing that they can do better than either of the other two. Why do we have them? They are an historical artefact of colonial days: the Father of Federation, Henry Parkes, could not convince the various Premiers to merge properly into a truly national form, and so we are stuck with the legacy of poor vision from 1898. On September 14, the logical thing is to vote Yes in the referendum: recognise local government in the Constitution. It may be the first step to Constitutional reform and the eradication of troublesome, inefficient, self-centred state governments. * NIMBY = not in my back yard, for any building designer who hasn’t heard it muttered under the breath of a state planning department bureaucrat.  Any government beyond the local level loses touch, and the community feels left out MysayDICKCLARKE 28  the brief
  26. 26. Inventing with Scyon™ character and space How do you design a home on a tiny parcel of land that responds to the character of the surrounding dwellings, and addresses a brief for an “open and contemporary design”? You split the built form to get a large program of spaces onto the site, and choose materials that create a collection of facades. On this project dubbed ‘Small’, that’s exactly what Base Architecture did: opening up access to areas not usually explored, and adding Scyon™ Matrix™ cladding to support the home’s contemporary nature. Read all about it in Light Home magazine, Autumn 2013 issue. Small House by Base Architecture, photography by Christopher Frederick Jones From sun-kissed canal homes to sculptural works of art, these four designers thought out of the box when they put Scyon™ products to the test.
  27. 27. the wow factor In creating his own home, designer Brendan Haese wanted nothing short of an immediate wow factor. After his geometric driveway and his LED mural garage, Haese’s upper-floor facade, in Scyon™ Stria™ cladding, floats seemingly weightlessly above, cantilevering out for dramatic effect. The Stria cladding’s banding effect then wraps effortlessly around the corners, helping create the facade’s clean, minimalist lines. Read all about it in Light Home magazine, Autumn 2013 issue. waterside wonder The owners of this canal-side property in sun-kissed Mooloolaba were clear about the type of home they wanted: classical in form yet embracing its waterside locale. In response, Aboda Design Group created a twist on the traditional Queenslander, with the home’s striking white exterior, completed in a combination of Scyon™ Linea™ weatherboard and flat fibre cement sheet, both modern and reminiscent of beach cottage facades. Read all about it in Light Home magazine, Summer 2012 issue. Patterson Lakes House by Brendan Haese, photography by Luke Boyle, Get Flashed Photography
  28. 28. INTRODUCING ACCELTM TRAINING CENTRE Build your knowledge online eco genius Starting out as an old brick garage, Dunsborough Beach House is now an eco-friendly residence inspired by the coastal terrain. Architect John Damant of Arcologic was determined to match the home with its surrounds and this is seen nowhere more than in his choice of cladding. To reflect the verticality and colour of nearby trees he opted for vertical grey panels of Scyon™ Axon™ cladding on the upper floor extension. An added bonus: the lightweight nature of the Axon cladding meant there was no need to reinforce the footings underneath the structure. Read all about it in Light Home magazine, Summer 2012 issue. The ACCELTM Training Centre is an easy-to-use, interactive online learning tool designed to share James Hardie’s extensive technical knowledge and almost 125 years of experience with the building industry. Earn CPD points Complete a training module and earn up to 1 formal Continued Personal Development point per course Access over 20 different topics Learn about building techniques, lightweight design, fire and wet zone construction, CAD platforms and more… Request face-to-face training Have an ACCELTM expert come to your business for a more personalised training experience Keep track of your training Print, share and compare your results and CPD point certificates of completionSTART YOUR FREE TRAINING TODAY: visit by Aboda Design Group, photography by Paul Smith Dunsborough Beach House by Arcologic, photography by Matt Moyes
  29. 29. working out for market fitness BDA development executive MARTIN FARLEY puts his business advisory skills to work for building designers who have embraced the foundations of pathways laid in previous instalments of his practice management series, to plot the next stage of market awareness in the quest for business resilience. The first article in this series focused on understanding business financials, in particular important performance measures such as the business break-even point and the personal contribution margin as a measure of productivity. The second article focused on considering how to increase the effective charge-out rate by enhancing the value of offers to different client segments; in effect, making a transition to a client value-based fee structure. Another critical dimension of practice management is business resilience, which is about being able to prosper in a changing environment. This article explores how to develop a“portfolio”of offers to the market as a means of ensuring business resilience that is based on adapting to market opportunities and threats. I hasten to add that in this sense“portfolio”relates to the range and balance of product/market mixes offered within the business. If the market is changing and we are standing still we’re in trouble; so the idea is to follow the Specialised Bike Co motto –“innovate or die”. Business growth and diversity are related contributors to business resilience. As identified in the first article, business success is not just about growth in revenue, it’s also about productivity and margins. The ability to productively service a range of market segments, sometimes with differing offers, is about having enough diversity to ensure that if one segment is“off”others will compensate. Business resilience is about ensuring that the growth segments of the business are outweighing the declining segments. Market opportunities In terms of demonstrable changes in segments or need, the“first home”incentive programs accelerated people entering the market, encouraged some established home owners to trade up. Awareness of sustainability challenges has resulted in different purchase behaviours, and therefore design needs. PracticemanagementMARTINFARLEY Business growth and diversity are related contributors to business resilience martin farley BDA Development Executive 32  the brief
  30. 30. Is the forecast desire for smaller housing about to take off? If so, what does it mean for designers and how do they position themselves to exploit that change? While there may be a range of changes that can clarify new or robust market segments, it is important to identify those that are attractive to individual businesses, and why. The degree to which they are attractive depends on individual business needs, but some typical criteria relate to: Market size and growth rate; Competitive intensity in that market; Knowledge of the market and need; Capacity to pay; Accessibility; and Similar values. Understanding these criteria allows one to rate them from low to high in terms of attractiveness. You can rate each sub-criterion from, say, zero to 100 and then rank the importance of the criteria to give a weighted score; or you can do it intuitively. The important thing is that you think about it Relative competitive position It is all very well to identify new opportunities, but the complementary question is “why will they commission us?”. Answering this question is where one crosses the line between identifying a good idea and entering action mode. Your capacity to compete is a relative measure; how does your business“stack up”compared to the competition for their commission? Remember, this is not your perception, but the perception of the potential client; it’s a case of putting yourself in their shoes and looking in at yourself and your business and gauging your attractiveness to them through a demonstration of your capacity to meet their needs. What criteria establish your relative competitive position? The answer is not simple, it depends on the market segment; however, there are some universal criteria that tend to be applied, including: Demonstrated experience and results; Sales effectiveness; Professional and technical capability matches to need; Cost and value; Ability to engage with you to achieve the desired outcome; Links to preferred builders; Risks are managed; and Ego in engaging your practice. This list is indicative only. Some potential segments and/or clients will have fewer decision criteria, others more; however, you can discuss these with your client base to firm up what is important in their eyes. These market attractiveness and relative competitive position questions are important in their own right and it is really worth spending time thinking about and analysing these. When you combine them, it becomes a really powerful way of thinking about your business and its future. The next major step is to combine these two thought processes to determine how the opportunities fit with the business. This, and the view of your business portfolio, is what we will concentrate on in the next issue. For the sake of a fictitious exercise that I will present in the next article to illustrate how this can paint a clear picture of where your practice is at, I have identified existing services to rate, such as: Basic Plans; Interactive Design, Plans and Documentation; Interactive Design through to Supervision; as well as a new service opportunity which I have described as Interiors and Colours. You may well describe your own range of services and opportunities quite differently, but in the end the same science will yield the same picture for future directions.  It’s a case of looking in at yourself and your business and gauging your attractiveness through a demonstration of your capacity to meet their needs the brief  33
  31. 31. 34  the brief About Us Building Industry Solutions (BIS) has forged strong industry support over the last 10 years, by developing and providing a leading edge product for building designers, that actually responds to the needs of the profession. BIS is an authorised corporate agent for CGU Insurance Ltd. BIS is a corporate member of BDANSW & BDAWA. The Insurer The BIS Scheme Insurer, CGU Professional Risks (A Division of CGU Insurance Ltd, an I.A.G. Company) is one of Australia’s largest and most respected insurers. The comprehensive and easy to understand policy wording includes:- • Claim Investigation Costs • Automatic Reinstatement of Sum Insured • Loss of Documents • Infringement of Intellectual Property • Joint Venture Liabilities • Principals’ Previous Business • Mergers and Acquisitions • Disciplinary Proceedings or Inquiries • Defamation • Fraud and Dishonesty of Employees • Continuous Cover • Cover for Employees • Prior Incorporated Body • Estates and Legal Representatives Your Benefits As part of the BIS Scheme you will be entitled to:- • Discounts on standard Building Designer Premiums of up to 15% for BDA members • No excess if claim free for last 5 years • OHS extension of cover to respond to National Work Health & Safety Act Introduction • Low cost option for small, part-time or semi-retired building designers (Fee income <$12,000) • Insurance can include cover for contract administration, energy rating services, town planning and interior design at no extra cost • One hour free legal advice each year • Access to cost effective run off options • Public Liability option available • Free quality assurance software Risk Manager Architect-Lite™ licence for 12 months to assist with your office procedures and documentation. (Valued at $150 + GST) (BDANSW members only) • Easy to complete renewal forms each year Supporting Professional Building Designers BUILDING DESIGNERS Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme The Scheme has been created to benefit BDA members with a comprehensive policy, industry specific inclusions, competitive premiums, a reputable insurer and market leading service, advice & technical support. Contact us for an obligation free quotation Should you require any further information, or have any questions on insurance issues, please contact us on Phone Freecall: 1800 244 224 Fax: 03 9706 5939 Email: Website: YaelKDesigns(BDAWA)EasternSolarDesign(BDANSW)MergeBuildingDesign(BDAWA)ConceptDrafting(BDAT)SeasideHomes(BDANSW) B U I L D I N G I N D U S T R Y S O L U T I O N S
  32. 32. DesignerprofileMelanieSymington I find a combination of the character of a site, and the sometimes unspoken elements of a design brief, are my inspiration on the record: melanie symington Melanie has worked in the building design industry for 14 years and been a member of the NSW chapter of Building Designers Australia for the past 10 years, during which time she has won three State design awards. Her practice, Seaside Homes, is based in Gwandalan, on the southern shores of Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle, from where she consults to clients throughout the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie regions. Q. What pathway (academic, trade, cadetship etc) led you to a career in building design? A. I suppose with a builder-father, I was destined to be on this career path from an early age. I did, however, take a few detours via a conference co-ordinator’s role with the Peppers Group, and a number of years with Qantas as an international flight attendant, before committing myself to the profession. Q. Who or what was the biggest influence in your decision to establish your own building design practice, and how? A. Not long after I’d joined the BDA, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with a very experienced designer, Julie-Anne Johnson. She was a generous mentor who encouraged me to invest in myself and expand Seaside Homes, which was then more of a part-time business. Q. From whom or what do you derive most inspiration as a building designer, and why? A. I find a combination of the character of a site, and the sometimes unspoken elements of a design brief, are my inspiration. I am in the habit of explaining to my clients at the start of our first meeting that I’m not a‘note taker’. If I can just listen to the clients talk about their ideas and ask them questions to draw out more information, I can easily write a multi-page design brief, even days later, that very accurately covers the items discussed at the meeting. If I interrupt the conversation to take notes, however, the flow is affected and I find that when I start designing there are pieces missing from the story. In the second of our series of designer profiles, New South Wales building designer MELANIE SYMINGTON shares her professional passions, driving forces and industry observations with the broader design community. MELANIE SYMINGTON BDA NSW the brief  35
  33. 33. I take any opportunity to maintain the original character of these villages by incorporating more modestly scaled, lighter buildings Q. What would you describe as the most professionally rewarding building design project you have yet undertaken, and why? A. I imagine I’m like many of my colleagues who find themselves living in their favourite project. I designed our family home on the shores of Lake Macquarie in the late 1990s. I was fortunate to have my father and his partner construct the home – but the process wasn’t without some challenges. The quite complex roof has a 40-degree pitch and some sections of the house are three storeys with a loft over. There were many attempts made on my father’s part to encourage me to drop the pitch, but I held firm (even when apparently some of the rafters needed five cuts). We agree now that it was the right call, and it resulted in a home which became the perfect example of my work, raising the profile of the design firm significantly in the process. Q. Does your portfolio contain a mix of residential, multi-residential, commercial and/or industrial projects, and to what degree is each represented? A. I do take on some commercial/industrial projects but I have a strong preference for residential design, whether it’s a custom-designed home or a multi-residential project. Q. What is your preferred market segment, and why? A. Most of my work involves either new homes or large alterations and additions. I enjoy the design freedom involved in being presented with a vacant site, but I love the challenge of turning a house that’s not working for the owners into a home designed specifically for their needs. Q. Do you specialise in, or concentrate on any particular materials palette in your design solutions, and if so, why? A. My favourite combination of materials is horizontal cladding boards, Colorbond roofing, and stone. This is strongly influenced by the region in which I primarily design. Lake Macquarie is the largest saltwater lake in the southern hemisphere and around the shoreline are lots of small villages that were originally holiday destinations for Sydneysiders. Many of the original cottages have been replaced with heavy, three-storey homes of glass and concrete, so I take any opportunity to maintain the original character of these villages by incorporating more modestly scaled, lighter buildings. Q. Do you specialise in or pay most homage to any particular design genre? A. Many years ago I came across a book on the town of Seaside in Florida (the inspiration for the name Seaside Homes). The town was a master-planned development on a privately-owned site, so the owner/developer, who was also an architect, had free reign over the design guidelines for homes in the town. The result was unfortunately overly successful because the town is so beautiful it’s become a tourist attraction instead of the very liveable village it was designed to be. Some of the design guidelines included the requirement for front porches and low front fences (both to encourage interaction between neighbours), and also the use of weatherboards with vertical profile window elements. Q. How highly do energy efficiency and sustainability rate in your design solutions, and what is your primary focus in this regard? A. I’m fortunate to design primarily in a very temperate climate. Mild winters and cool north-easterly summer breezes make designing for energy efficiency far easier than in other areas. I’m very particular about cross ventilation patterns that draw the summer breeze through homes, and also ensuring that glazing units are protected from the summer sun. ABOVE Melanie’s own home in Lake Macquarie, NSW – her favourite project 36  the brief
  34. 34. When a local authority can engagingly tell the story of the character of their area, rather than listing restrictions, I believe owners and designers are more inclined to work with the story than against it Q. Do you consider there is a need among building designers for increased awareness of natural and cultural heritage in the design of built forms that are more sympathetic to our regional vernacular, and if so, how do you believe this can be achieved? A. Absolutely. I’m not a great supporter of design covenants as they often require unnecessary compromise. I’d rather encourage the identifying of the beautiful aspects of particular built forms. When a local authority can engagingly tell the story of the character of their area, rather than listing restrictions, I believe owners and designers are more inclined to work with the story than against it. Q. What has been the most significant turning point in your career? A. A number of years ago I was introduced to one of my dearest friends, Paulina Mangano. At the time, she was tasked with being my business mentor through a time of growth for Seaside Homes. I believe as designers we invest almost all of our energy is creating the best results for our clients. The unfortunate reality of this situation, though, is that many of us don’t focus enough on the business side of our design firms. Paulina was fantastic at getting me past the talking stage, and into the implementation stage, of building a stronger business. I owe her much of the credit for the current profile and success of my business. Q. What professional advice would you give to any young person starting out in the building design industry? A. Get a mentor! If you have the opportunity to work with an experienced designer, grab it with both hands. I’d also encourage them to join a professional association like BDA. Q. Is there anything else you would like to share about any aspect of the profession (e.g. fee structures, future directions, training, professional development, industry regulation etc)? A. We’ve all seen incredible change in the complexity of the work we do over the past decade. I don’t imagine the next decade will be any different, so I’m about to embark on more training. I find that if you approach professional development as an opportunity instead of an obligation, it can actually be a very positive experience.  ABOVE A recently completed project overlooking Lake Macquarie at Coal Point the brief  37
  35. 35. ProductprofileBLUESCOPESTEEL Structural damage as a result of termite activity is a common threat to properties across Australia, particularly in rural areas and urban fringes. In conjunction with its capabilities for advanced home design, a frame made from steel offers a strong and durable framework in termite prone areas. Termites wreak havoc to homeowners every year as they quietly munch away at wood, wallpaper and other materials, including carpet backing. To make matters worse, the damage they leave behind is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies. Signs of termite damage can lurk beneath surfaces undetected and is made worse by factors that attract termites, such as firewood stacked next to the property or grading that directs water toward a house instead of draining it away. Clayton Whitely, a pest inspector with over 25 years experience in detecting termites in Sydney’s homes, says that termite damage to homes across the country is a serious concern for homeowners: “They love to eat wood; it’s as simple as that. And they will eat it all - the handles off garden implements, rakes, flooring, and roof trusses - and turn them into shredded wheat. This year the cellulose-chomping critters began their destruction even earlier than normal, thanks to the combination of an unseasonably wet summer and warm weather. “As it is one of the first parts of a house to be built and it’s a core building element, a house frame really does need to be strong and durable whatever the environment it has been outsmart the homewreckers built in and has to be protected from termite damage. A house frame made from Truecore steel is a great option as it is 100 per cent termite proof.” Clayton, who has the fascinating talent of being able to hear termites boring right though barriers and timber frames, has witnessed first hand the destruction termites can cause to people’s homes and is passionate about helping people understand the danger they represent. Made in Australia to Australian standards, a frame made from Truecore steel is 100 per cent termite proof, with no need to apply chemical treatments, so builders and homeowners can rest assured that the structural integrity of the home will not be affected or damaged. While also ensuring that the termite problem won’t return, steel roof frames made from Truecore steel remain straight and true so they won’t warp, twist, sag or shrink over time. Homeowners can have the security that comes with having a property that uses Truecore steel, as it is manufactured by BlueScope Steel and tested in Australia for Australian conditions. Since its introduction to the market almost 50 years ago, steel framing has increased in distribution and demand and is now widely used as an alternative to the more traditional timber frames. Many of Australia’s largest and most successful builders, manufacturers and building solutions companies now supply steel framing as standard. Visit or call 1800 022 999. As it is one of the first parts of a house to be built and it’s a core building element, a house frame really does need to be strong and durable 38  the brief
  36. 36. Fielders FiNesse Ideas to Shape the Future your project! For more information Phone Fielders on 1800 182 255 I N T E R L O C K I N G P A N E L Gold Partner Fielders’ Finesse architectural steel roofing and facades provide a durable and aesthetic finish for residential and commercial applications. FIEL_28403

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Building Designers Australia Winter Magazine 2013


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