3 Over 4 Under – equity in diversity

First published in The Architect Journal – Spring 2016 (pages 78-79)

Since 2003, the Perth architecture community has engaged in a discourse that has been enhanced by diversity. You might describe it as a celebration of diversity within architectural practice – of all form and scale. The wise and the effervescent, the micro and the macro, the poetic and the pragmatic; all have shared the stage at some point over the past 14 years of ‘3 Over 4 Under’, an annual architecture forum presented by EmAGN WA (the Institute’s Emerging Architects and Graduates Network committee). In the tradition of the forum, speakers from architectural practices – 3 established (over) and 4 emerging (under) – present their work on a theme set each year by EmAGN WA. This creates one common discussion point for each speaker to respond to from their unique position within architectural practice. This year’s theme ‘On Beginnings’, in particular, attracted a range of responses which reflects the diversity of practices around Perth at this point in time.

Through a mixture of public and invited EOIs EmAGN WA asked this year’s speakers:

“What was your first project? Maybe this project was not the first you were ever involved with; but instead the project that became the beginning, the critical point that changed your direction or catapulted your practice onto its current path. This project may be built or unbuilt, big or small, residential or commercial, local or international. It is a landmark project for you, perhaps it won an award, created a long standing love affair with a material or an ongoing experimentation in construction, lifelong friendships or affiliations. This project could have been many different things as newly completed or on reflection now; imperfect but promising, challenging but rewarding… What do you consider as your beginning?”

Here is a summary from the forum.

#1 (Over) Patrick Kosky, Kerry Hill Architects
Patrick started his career at KHA’s Singapore studio and has remained with the practice to become a Director at the Perth studio based in Fremantle. During his time at KHA, Patrick has certainly been involved in many project beginnings, which he describes as a time of both anticipation and trepidation. At KHA, design competitions are used to synthesise and compress the early stages of a project through a rapid process of exploration. The Kings Square Design Competition in particular, provoked a range of diverse responses within the practice, ultimately leading to a successful design proposal.

#2 (Over) Dimmity Walker and Michael Patroni, spaceagency
In the beginning there was Michael Patroni Architects (established 1984)… Dimmity joined the practice in 1995, which marked another beginning as partners in work and life. A site responsive, holistic approach across architecture and interiors has solidified spaceagency’s reputation as a good local practice that has diversified from small existing hospitality and residential projects to large scale new commercial and urban projects. Michael and Dimmity have shared a number of ‘beginnings’ over the course of 30+ years together, with many more to come in some form or another.

#3 (Under) Fernando Jerez, SMAR Architecture Studio
As an internationally registered Architect and Urban Planner, a professor of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at the University of Western Australia, and Director of SMAR Architecture Studio (established 2009) operating in Australia and Spain, Fernando certainly doesn’t sound like an ‘Under’. Fernando’s work addresses the new industrial revolution. In this era of open source / sharing economy, ideas have become the principal currency. But Architecture is still offering the same products. Buildings are heavy and slow, while an app is as real as a building. Architecture needs to adapt.

#4 (Under) Mitch Hill, TRIAD Studio / Assemble WA

Mitch has trained as an architect, builder and carpenter. He hasn’t had a holiday in three years. He’s worked in traditional architectural practice but experienced envy towards those on the tools that he couldn’t resist diving into the trades himself. Though he doesn’t like being defined by any of the roles he works in on a daily basis. He feels “it’s more than that, with each profession contributing to the tapestry of that final destination. At this moment, “maker” seems most appropriate, but I am only at the beginning of discovering what that actually means.”

#5 (Under) Kate Fitzgerald, Whispering Smith
Kate grew up on a farm and learnt to drive at the age of six when her legs reached the pedals. “I’ve always found architecture’s obsession with slowness to be strange.” In 2011, Kate established Whispering Smith, a firm that operates on the fringe of commercial and residential architecture in Perth. Her niche is unique projects with an entrepreneurial or social focus. She is is currently looking at ways of using architecture to disrupt the system, and hopefully to help others become more entrepreneurial. Kate believes architects should play a bigger role in the built environment and procure our own projects wherever possible.

#6 (Over) Ian Scott, SPH Architecture and Interiors
Prior to founding SPH, Ian contracted at over 30 firms in a diverse range of locations including Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, London, Muscat, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth. Consequently, he has worked numerous projects ranging from the bizarre to the mundane, but one project that stands out. The project in question did not reflect in any way the Council approved planning submission. It was constructed from a mixture of dimensioned sketches, loose hand drawings a lot of pointing, doodling on walls and discussions over pies and tea.
The remains of a medieval bridge were found whilst excavating the site and preserved, the River Thames flows into the lower floor. It was opened by the Queen, won several major awards and only when finished was the builder presented with a drawing of the front elevation.

#7 (Under) April Pine, Artist
You may have already come across April’s work, at some scale or other. She works in large scale architecture practice (at HASSELL) which inspires her small-er scale personal art practice, and vice versa. Three years ago April entered her first independent art competition. She has since committed her emerging years to using competitions and artist EOI call outs as a catalyst to explore new work, new techniques and new ideas and thus broaden her design palette. April’s art practice has subsequently evolved organically each year, venturing into new territories of object, sculpture or installation. She interplays elements of both architecture and sculpture within spaces, considering how sculpture and installation works can react, exaggerate and celebrate their context.

Read more at www.3over4under.com