In the lead-up to the first lecture in the 2015 UQ Architecture Lecture Series, March 10, we spoke to our first speaker Andrew Burges, who is principal of ABA Architects.
Tell us a little about your background, and what originally led you to architecture?
I grew up in Sydney and always loved building models as a child, but am reluctant to say I always wanted to be an architect as I had a very vague understanding of the profession before entering University. As soon as I started studying it, I was hooked.
Can you give us a little insight into what a normal work day looks like for you?
Unfortunately too much time in Outlook writing emails! A typical day might include meetings and site visits, phone calls and emails with clients or consultants, as well as reviewing projects with staff – looking at drawings and models of our projects. Hopefully some time for sketching projects or getting staff together to frame and give some creative impetus to our projects.
What are some daily office rituals or habits you employ to enhance your productivity and creativity?
I often spend a few hours after dinner at home sketching projects to help me decide on the strategic directions for our projects – I enjoy the calmness of working at home in a quiet space. In the morning I always do some form of fitness before work to get me thinking, preferably a swim!
What principles inform your work?
We understand architecture as a form of ‘geography making’ – trying to understand how each project can be shaped by, and help shape, the geography of a site and locality.
Where do you go to get design inspiration?
Books are an important part of my design inspiration – having a good architecture library and knowing the history of different architectural approaches is very important to me. I love to visit as many architectural projects as I can – travelling and seeing projects in the flesh is a pre-requisite for having an opinion on other architects’ work.
What has been a career highlight for you so far?
Winning the Green Square Aquatic Centre project through an international design competition was probably my biggest highlight.
Which Australian or international architecture people, practices, designers or similar do you admire?
Ever since I was a student I have enjoyed the writings and criticism of Rem Koolhaas. I was lucky enough to be taught by Rafael Moneo and Enric Miralles, who both influenced me in very different ways. Of contemporary global practices, Herzog and DeMeuron, Alvaro Siza and Peter Zumthor have always interested me. Ultimately, though, I am more interested in the works of my peers and the ambitious practices around the world that sit below that strata of famous offices – producing carefully considered projects that are grounded and more accountable than the production of ‘starchitects’! I try and follow the work of as many Australian practices as I can and there are many whose work I admire – in Brisbane I have always followed Donovan Hill, Owen and Vokes and Peters, and several other young firms.
What are your top 5 favourite design books?
Brazil’s Modern Architecture – Phaidon
How to make a Japanese House – Cathelijne Nuijsink
What can attendees to your UQ Architecture lecture expect to hear?
Hopefully they will get a sense of the strategic thinking that shapes our projects.
Date: Tuesday 10 March
Time: 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start – 7:30pm
Where: The Edge Auditorium, Stanley Place, Cultural Centre, Southbank
Architectural professionals who attend the series will be eligible for 2 formal continuing professional development points (CPD).