In the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Risks Report, the three most likely things to affect world stability were extreme weather events, failure to adapt to climate change and natural disasters. Sustainability is top-of-mind across the world, and the new generation of architects is tackling the problem head on.
At home in Australia, there are a number of young and exciting firms grappling not only with the issue of sustainability, but accessibility and affordability, and seeking to remedy inequality through design.
We’ve selected three to keep an eye on over the coming months and years.
Founded in 2012, Melbourne-based multi-disciplinary firm Ha° is run by principal Nick Harding. The central ethos of Ha° is to create diverse projects that are ‘embraced by inhabitants’ and have a strong focus on community at the core of the design.
Harding believes that in order to create architecture that will benefit community, it’s first necessary to understand the contexts of the environment into which the project will fit - from its geography to its history or its socio-economic background.
In a 2018 interview, Harding noted his specific interest in projects that border public spaces (such as the street or public parks) as these provided an intersection where a private project could take on a public life through its interface with neighbouring construction, infrastructure and community.
With a number of notable projects completed, including Melbourne’s Leveson Street Residence, Ha° takes its community ethos to the next step by fostering collaboration amongst like-minded designers, architects and other specialists and through active research into emerging issues like the difficulties presented by a growing crossover between commercial and residential spaces in our urban environments.
Breakspear Architects is the brainchild of Director Toby Breakspear and is a diverse practice, branching across architecture, interiors, landscape, urban design and masterplanning. Breakspear’s projects aim to explore the “reciprocal relationships that emerge when architectural fundamentals are attuned to the surrounds in a rich ecology of life.”
Breakspear’s overriding approach continues the growing trend of emerging architects exploring ways to close the gap between architecture and nature in both residential and commercial contexts. Breakspear’s specific interest lies in merging the enduring Australian notion of the ‘bush’ within the confines of an increasingly urbanised and scale-driven society.
In its relatively short lifespan, Breakspear has already racked up an impressive list of accolades - its art-cum-architecure installation Poly was installed at the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, its collaborative (with Kann Finch) design of oneA apartments in Sydney was awarded 1st place by City of Sydney for Design Excellence, and the new Echo Point Visitor Information Centre (yet to be constructed) is a shining example of flowing architecture that melds the Australian bush with its busy surroundings.
The Mill Design Studio
The Mill’s approach is probably best summed up in their own words - “We design single and multi-unit residential, commercial office, retail fit outs and government space planning with a specialised approach of passive, sustainable design.”
The practice is led by co-Directors Sarah Welsh (Director and Interior Designer) and Shannon Battison (Director and Architect). Battison was recognised as the 2018 ACT winner of Best Emerging Architect by the Australian Institute of Architects for her commitment and contribution to the industry in general and advocacy for causes such as affordable housing and gender equality.
The architecture side of the business focuses on environmentally complementary, sustainable design - a passion of Battison’s, who has gone on record about the need for Australian design that is better suited to our existing environments in order to maximise sustainability outcomes.
This is just a small sample of the growing crop of forward-thinking architects and designers in Australia. As the trend towards environmentally and socially-conscious design grows we will undoubtedly be hearing a lot more from these (and many other) businesses as they bring issues like sustainability, community and equality to the fore.