Richard Wiseman has recently been appointed project director for Queensland at Amicus Interiors.

He has a background in sales, construction and refurbishment working on a number of high profile projects in both Australia and the UK.

Architecture & Design spoke to him about fitouts, being a project manager and why Australia needs to follow the UK’s lead and implement hearing aid induction loops in the office.

What’s the most important thing about fittings that architects often forget about? 

I don't think there's anything in particular that architects forget, but often throughout the process there will be an element that has been overlooked or something that could work better. It's important to stay on top of the project and also be open and honest about what could work better or what could be missed. It's an industry where you have to expect the unexpected.

What’s the hardest part of being a project manager?

Being a project manager means that I have to continuously be aware of all of the different projects that are happening and remain on top of the individual needs and requirements for each project. Making sure that all of the requirements are being met and knowing where each stage of the project is at is crucial for a successful end result. Having excellent attention to detail and being on top of the tasks is also important and at times difficult, but it definitely beats missing opportunities and deadlines. 

How does the UK approach differ from that in Australia?

It has been many years since I have worked in the UK but it is becoming more apparent on a global level that the approach towards fitouts and products are changing, particularly in relation to office spaces. Businesses are now focusing more on the ‘work/life’ balance of its employees and switching the focus to the best ways to look after staff. We are seeing many more requests for activity based working offices and products, such as desks where employees can stand and use their laptop to promote movement within the workplace. This is definitely being reflected in the changing nature of fitouts and products in the UK.

What should Australia be doing that the UK is already doing?

There are a few standard items that are now being introduced to offices in the UK that I feel could really benefit Australian offices. Perhaps the most important of these is hearing aid induction loops are now a standard item in UK offices. I think this is a great addition to workplaces and is definitely something that should be considered for all Australian offices.

What’s been your most difficult project to date?

By far the most difficult project has been an end of trip facility in a basement carpark. We faced a lot of challenges with air conditioning and getting adequate ventilation into the space and also had to work around the hydraulics, which were all above head. We also had to work around the storage tanks and pumps whilst still making sure that both the working conditions and end result were a safe environment.

What’s been your favourite project to work on?

My personal favourite project to date has been the renovation of the old Optus site at Woolloongabba into the new Downer EDI head office for Queensland. We were tasked with renovating the old and run down site surrounded in darkness to creating a modern and functional workplace that was bright and invigorating for its staff. The site was also the first time I had been involved in retrofitting a lift into an existing building, which proved to be both an interesting and difficult task that needed to be strategically planned to ensure all safety requirements were met.