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What is Architecture?

When I was a kid, our lounge room had the most outrageous green paisley wallpaper. Very bright colours and with big paisley swirls – maybe 20 to 30cm high. The kitchen had a different wallpaper with big flowers and pots in bright yellows, oranges and browns. Whilst not exactly the same as these images, not too far away. I don’t think I’ll ever forget those spaces.

What is the earliest birthday you can remember? Do you remember who was there and what sort of cake you had? Do you remember the room you were in, was it the living room or a kitchen? Now that you’re thinking about it, you can probably remember everything about the space. How big it was, the smells, the paint colour, the flooring. Maybe there was paisley wallpaper??

Why is this relevant? Because this is architecture. At least this is our version of architecture.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘Architecture’ as “the art or science of building. Specifically : the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones”

In fact, most dictionary definitions of architecture refer to ‘buildings’. The structure. The columns, the floors, the roof.

Many within the building sector would define architecture in terms of a yield or a floor space ratio. They would want to see a spreadsheet showing net lettable areas, open space, setbacks or building height. Council’s view of architecture is that it shouldn’t offend the neighbours or in any way detract from their views or sunlight and it should preferably fit neatly within a ‘bulk’ envelope that was created without any consideration to the specific site.

Is any of this architecture? By our definition; not in any way, shape or form.

To us, architecture is the green paisley wallpaper. It’s your first /earliest birthday memories. Architecture is emotion, experiences and life.

Many years ago, Wendy and I were in Paris and we visited Sainte Chappelle. It was built in the 13th Century to house Louis IX’s collection of relics of Christ. It has the most spectacular stained glass windows; 15 windows each 15m high. This particular day was overcast and the building was full of tourists like all days and it was noisy. And then the sun broke through the clouds and burst through the stained glass windows creating the most spectacular experience: joy, enlightenment, exhilaration. The space instantly went quiet as everyone was in awe, which just added to the emotion of the moment. That was until a loud American woman called out at the top of her voice “Aww John, John. Get your camera quick, take a photo John.” Maybe John was just enjoying the moment?

Architecture isn’t about the structure. Nor the walls, the floor or the roof.

It’s about the space. It’s about how you feel when your there. It’s about memories and it’s about experiences. It’s about the courtyard with a table laden with food and drinks and a group of friends laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Architecture is about emotion. We use walls and objects as a way of creating the space. But at its true core for us, architecture is about the creation of ‘heart’.

When we design for you; whether it is a chapel, a school, a house, an installation, an apartment building or whatever it is, that is what we are doing – we are designing specifically for you. We understand your dreams and hopes and then we create and bring those emotions to life. And if you’re lucky, we may even design in a little piece of your own version of paisley wallpaper.

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