Designing for place
Architectus is a premier firm of more than 200 leading architects, planners, and designers dedicated to achieving the best in architecture, interiors, urban design and planning.Over the years, they have developed unparalleled specialist expertise in virtually every facet of their industry – from education, to public buildings, commercial, industrial, residential, aviation and transport, sustainable design, retail and hotels. Today, they haveoffices throughout Australia, in Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne, Shanghai and Sydney.
Every project undertaken by Architectus enjoys the benefit of inspirational design and strategic thinking from some of the most experienced and skilled professionals in Australia and New Zealand. Design leaders – including Patrick Clifford, Professor John Hockings, Elizabeth Watson Brown, John Grealy and James Jones – collaborate across projects and regions,and provide high level strategic direction and design input to ensure the quality of every product.
Dr. Stephen Long, an Associate in the Brisbane office, possessesa breadth of experience in architectural practice, research and teaching for public, residential, and community projects. He also holdsexpertise in indigenous housing and cultural heritage location, and is the author of numerous reports on indigenous homes and environments.
Stephen also has extensive experience working with communities throughout Australia. This work includes community cultural development, as Stephen was a Board member of the cultural development company – Feral Arts – from 1999 to 2003.
“Before joining up with Architectus, my career was academic research with remote indigenous communities in Australia and aboriginal relationships to place,” he explains. “One of the features of the company is we strive for our buildings to respond and enrich the quality of place. That key driver of Architectus’ work was very lucrative when I left the academic world to re-enter professional practice, and why I chose to come here.”
Since joining Architectus, Stephen has been the Project Architect for the design of a new theatre and major upgrade for the Caloundra Events Centre. He’s also engaged in the upgrade of facilities for the Commonwealth Law Courts in Brisbane, and has contributed on the Brisbane Supreme Courts and District Court project.
The highest standards
According to Stephen, clients choose Architectus because of the way they deliver exactly what clients want. He says they start every project by learning to intrinsically understand the client’s objectives, budget, and social needs.From there, they develop a client brief and design criteria for the most effective operation of all parties involved.
Stephen also talks about how the company has a “respect for place” – an appreciation of the wider impact of land development both local and universal. He says Architectus strives to be highly sensitive to the context of all their developments and the culture surrounding them, whether they are in urban, suburban or rural areas. This sensitivity also includes fully understanding the sustainability and ecological interdependence of their developments, and the longer-term impacts they will have on their environment.
He says the architects and designers at Architectus are committed to the highest standards of education and research on behalf of clients, along with the best assessment of methods and materials to use in development. Wherever they can, they seek to enhance their design and construction processes to ensure simplicity, performance, and suitability for all projects.
As a company, Stephen also says Architectus continually educates and trains their staff, improving the transfer of knowledge between employees, clients and community.
“Design is a process, and one that needs to be constantly tweaked and updated,” he explains. “Research, innovation, communication and review is how we stay at the forefront of our industry.”
Architectus and its Directors have been honoured with over 100 awards from the Australian Institute of Architects, the New Zealand Institute of Architects, and the Planning Institute of Australia, as well as awards from specialist industry sectors. Directors of the company currently serve on several key industry bodies, lecturing at Australian and New Zealand Universities, and have been invited as keynote speakers at international conferences in Europe, the Americas,and Asia.
This year, the company’s work on the Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law has been nominated for three separate 2014 Property Council of Australia Innovation and Excellence Awards. The awards are the SAS International Award for Best Office Development, the Woods Bagot Award for Best Public Building, and the WSP Award for Best Sustainable Development.
The nominated property itself is a 64 thousand square metre courthouse, built on the Queensland Place site. The building houses 39 different courtrooms – covering both civil and criminal jurisdictions – chambers for 69 judges, a library, and courts administration facilities.
The Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law is a notable departure from traditional court design. According to Stephen, the building was created specifically to “represent the transparency of the judicial process,” while also being welcoming and inviting for all users. To achieve that effect, Architectus came up with a design where all the courtrooms – instead of being internalised – had access to natural light and views. They also designed the building so that all public foyers addressed a major public park across the road.
“As people move through the building, they continually look out at this green space and this natural light,” Stephen explains. “Through that openness, we tried to establish a calm and welcoming environment throughout the whole courthouse.”
Architectus also used the same materials throughout the building, from the ground floor right through the courtrooms to the judge’s chambers. According to Stephen, this achieves a symbolic effect.
“There’s an equality of materials,” he explains. “The judges get the same types of materials that are used in the public spaces. That reflects the idea that everyone’s equal in the eyes of the law.”
The courthouse is also unique in all of Australia for the way it provides significant operating efficiencies through the use of shared facilities – such as vehicular access through the existing Magistrates Court complex. Its design also makes a positive contribution to the urban layout of the city, creating a new public square for Brisbane.
“We responded to urban context by pulling the building to the south-western part of the site to create a new, large public space between the Supreme Court building and the Magistrates Court,” Stephen says. “That urban space aligned strategically with the rest of the area, and created a major public space for the city. We see that as a really critical element of the design.”
“We’re always mindful about responding to the quality of place,” he concludes. “We strive to create buildings that are human-orientated, welcoming environments. Those things combined with the natural light and views are ultimately what made and will continue to make our projects successful over competitors.”