Sometimes it is a good thing to get a fresh perspective. In this weeks post I interview Alex Nock, Director of architectural firm Nock Doig, to see how the Melbourne’s architecture scene is travelling and to discuss some of the pressing issues.
R+BA – What do you see as the most pressing issue in architecture at the moment?
AN – In this current economic climate the most pressing issue is the survival of our practices and obtaining enough work / fees to maintain jobs for the industry. It is in these downturns that the architectural profession suffers a significant brain drain, creating a void of expertise that will have a lasting effect for years to come.
On a more positive note, the issue surrounding the creation of sustainable developments is where we as architects need to rise to the challenge. Over the last 10 years we have seen significant improvements in how our building stock meets, addresses and incorporates sustainable objectives, practices, and strategies and for the majority of this the engineering profession has been the leader in the construction industry.
What we are now starting to see is a shift away from looking at buildings on an individual basis only, to that on an urban / community level and this is where the idea of Social Sustainability is gathering momentum. Social Sustainability measures the success of a community / society not by just looking at GDP but by taking into consideration many other factors including health and wellbeing. It is the link to the wellbeing of people and how the design of space can positively effect the community that is exciting for architects and will require us to take a leading role in the development of sustainable communities / healthy living environments on numerous levels.
R+BA – Do you think the general public sees value in good architecture?
AN – Put simply, I do not think they do, otherwise architects would be able to demand higher fees for our services. That said, there are a number of initiatives underway in the AIA [Australian Institute of Architects] looking to address this. The main driver in the Victoria Chapter is the Media Working Party, which for the past couple of years, has been focused on promoting the value of architects and architecture in the media. This is continuing to develop and is also complemented by the Institutes’ renewed focus to develop policy and positions papers refining how we interact with the general public and giving architects a common voice.
R+BA – Tell me about your practice, what do you specialize in?
AN – Nock Doig is a recently established, design led, architectural practice created by myself and Peter Doig. We are focused on providing quality outcomes based on intelligent, sustainable and cost effective solutions and cover the skill sets of Architecture, Interiors and Urban Design across the following sectors:
- Aged Care and Retirement
R+BA – What are you currently working on / what have you recently finished?
AN – We are currently undertaking feasibility studies / concept designs in the retirement, residential and mixed-use sectors, documentation for a number of industrial and retail projects and have some residential and retail projects under construction. Projects of note include the Main Point Apartments on 241 City Road; 206 to 216 A’Beckett Street and; Marriott Waters located on Thompsons Road, Lyndhurst.
In addition, I would like to make mention of two projects from my previous life at Woodhead. The on-base accommodation and community facilities for the Defence Force School of Signals, Simpson Barracks, Watsonia and; currently under construction, Australian Unity’s Victoria Grange Community Centre and Independent Living Units.
R+BA – What do you make of the recent and ongoing changes to the planning system?
AN – Short term some of these recent changes have created an uncertainty in the industry and we are currently witnessing a number of developments not proceeding. This is generally in the low to medium rise residential sector and is due to the new Neighborhood Residential Zone that is currently in the hands of local government to determine.
Other areas that will be interesting to watch unfold are the new Commercial 1 & 2 Zones resulting from the consolidation of the Business Zones 1 – 5 and the Activity Centre Zone. We are seeing the key difference being the removal of the cap on floor space rations in a bid to create a competitive market. In addition and further to this theme, is the allowance of small (2000sqm) retail offerings in the Industrial 3 Zone.
Overall there seems to be a simplification and push to promote competition. Only time will tell as to the effectiveness of these changes.
R+BA – Finally what is your favourite building in Melbourne and why?
AN – I have a soft spot for CH2 and the K2 apartments, both of which were designed by Design Inc. Each of these projects have provided a bench mark in the profession of exemplary sustainable deign and posses a unique visual aesthetic. However, my current favorite is the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park) by Cox Architects. The architecture is intriguing and delightful and I enjoy viewing it from numerous vantage points whether it be from Richmond station, across the Yarra or from the city. It just sits extremely well within in its’ environs. Oh, and of course, it is pretty good for watching sport, what ever your code.
R+BA – Thank-you Alex for taking the time out for this interview. I wish yourself and your new practice every success.
For those wanting more information about Nock Doig, their website is http://www.nockdoig.com.au
Architecture is for Everyone