Recently I attended a World Architecture Day event at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA). One of the speakers at this event was Stuart Harrison, a well known architect and director of the architecture firm Harrison and White, who had recently returned from the Venice Biennale. As well as being an established architect Stuart is also an author and co hosts the Triple R radio program: The Architects.
Seizing the opportunity, I asked Stuart some questions relating to his work in architecture and perceptions about the architecture in the media.
R+BA – As a director of the architectural firm Harrison and White, how would you describe your practice?
SH – It’s an architecture and urban design practice – we do small and big things. We have a focus on sustainability and innovation. The reality is we will work on a range of project types – but have been developing specialities in working on ‘municipal’ projects, small public buildings, and with existing buildings particular. The work we did at Preston City Oval is typical of this.
R+BA – What current projects are you working on / recently completed?
SH – A few things – we are working with Lyons on an exciting project at RMIT, in its early stages – and lots of little things – a couple of houses in planning, and some interior projects. We have also been doing some work for City of Whittlesea, and this will hopefully result in some built outcomes next year.
R+BA – Do you think the public values quality Architecture?
SH –Yes, once it’s built they can tell if its good, we all can. Federation Square is a case in point.
R+BA – How do you see the profession’s relationship with the general public?
SH – It could be a lot better – and that’s why we do the media stuff – myself and others – to improve understanding of why design in the built environment is important, and what we can offer.
R+BA – How did the radio show on RRR come about?
SH – Back in 2004, RRR offered us our own dedicated architecture radio show – we had been doing regular segments on other shows before that – we said we weren’t sure if it would work or how long it would last, but said yes and it’s worked for eight years now!
R+BA – Do you watch Kevin McClouds Grand Design’s and do you think it has had any effect on the industry in Australia or your clients?
SH – Yes. I think it has helped in understanding why good design matters at an intrinsic level, rather than just as superficial thing. The outcomes on the show suggest that architects help – the disasters tend to be the jobs without architects involved.
R+BA – What do you make of the Australian version hosted by Peter Maddison?
SH – Great. I wish it was on free to air TV here, but it’s doing really well on Foxtel, becoming a magnet show, and architects are often involved. There have been some great houses on there, such as Dominic Alvaro’s Small House which went onto the win at the World Architecture Festival last year and is the job on the cover of my recent book, Forty-six square metres of land doesn’t normally become a house.
For more information on Harrison and White click here
Thanks to Stuart for his time and ongoing advocacy of architecture!
Architecture is for everyone