The National Arboretum
© Brett Boardman
Our methodology has been very much defined by the work in practice and not developed in advance. Which is not to say that we don’t tenaciously concentrate on the theoretical basis for each project at hand. This was particularly necessary with the Hyde Park Barracks project, where the client was the inspiration for some very concentrated discussion on the relationship of theory and practice, the role of the fabric, which survived from various stages of past construction and occupation of the building, and the theoretical justification of the smallest architectural detail. This level of thought has informed our heritage approach in such subsequent projects as the Casula Powerhouse and the Rocks Square.
To achieve a high level of meaning in public monumental projects such as The National Memorial to the Australian Vietnam Forces and The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier, we established a collaborative methodology with leading artists to develop design and formal principles. Both projects adopt a position common to much of our work, concentrating on expressive forms and the straightforward use of a limited palette of materials to produce meaning, rather than on representational iconography and elaborated detail. We conduct a collaborative office with a relatively low level of ‘pyramiding’, and we are interested in design in practice. Whilst projects often cross over, our work/theory has developed in five major themes:
Urbanity | Making the City - knitting new elements into the urban fabric in a positive and inventive way. The aim of this work is to achieve a consistent urban fabric, relevant to the needs of current society but respecting the past, while creating good spaces for people.
Respecting the Past | New work, with its own character and philosophy, is harmoniously united with valuable elements from the past; both gain by the union. In all cases, strict adherence to principles of The Burra Charter allows positive interplay between old and new. Creative ‘layering’ of old and new - the palimpsest - adds value to the complete whole.
Meaningful Architecture | Often created through collaboration with artists, the work as a whole takes the position of Modern design’s abstract symbolism vs. Post Modern’s representational character. The firm appreciates the value of collaborative design reaching from earliest ideas to completed works.
Environmental Management | Environmentally Sustainable Development Management may take many forms, including running cost effects, inbuilt energy cost, sustainability of materials, construction and manufacturing techniques and maintenance and repair.
Innovation | All of our work demonstrates a very high level of innovation achieved, not for its own sake, but for the overall betterment of the project. Our impressive list of design awards confirms this success.