Torren Bell is an award-winning building designer delivering high quality, innovative designs to the residential and commercial arenas.
At the heart of the 18-year-old practice is a commitment to quality, form and function – a philosophy that has earned designer Torren Bell an ever-increasing base of clients attracted to the unique liveability and beauty of his design.
“All of my work comes from recommendations,” says Torren, founder and owner of the company. “It all comes from people who have worked with me before, and who can vouch for my commitment to achieving a client’s goals.”
Before establishing the practice, Torren gained some hands-on knowledge of the construction industry through part time work as a carpenter. That experience has enabled him to work closely with builders and tradesmen, and helped him better understand design and documentation when he struck out on his own.
Initially, most of Torren’s work was small, low-cost housing projects, carports and deck extensions. He won’t shy away from doing that kind of work today, but now you are much more likely to find him working on larger, more detailed projects.
A positive outlook
“The company is called Torren Bell Building Design, and clients deal with Torren Bell the entire way through,” Torren says, describing what sets his firm apart.
“I’m not running a large practice, nor do I want to run a large practice,” he explains. “I don’t want to just turn projects out. I want to be involved as much as I can, because I’m quite passionate about what I put my name to.”
Torren says most clients appreciate that personal attention, because it helps ensure their project reflects their goals. It also helps reduce the inevitable stress that comes with any building endeavour.
“Clients have my mobile number, and they know they can get me anytime if there’s an issue – or even if they have an idea they want to talk about,” Torren explains. “They know I’m the one that’s documenting it, I’m the one that’s designing it, and I’m the one they can deal with at any time.”
Torren is also very open to input, which is something else clients often appreciate. His process is all about meeting a client, making them comfortable, and then getting a feel for their tastes and goals.
“It’s all about having a positive outlook towards clients,” he says. “I think it’s important to just listen. Sometimes the client comes up with something that I’ll wish I had thought of. I think it’s important to accept that. After all, I’m often working with the clients’ life savings. I need to take their views quite personally.”
Many of Torren Bell’s clients become personal friends, and even more become repeat customers. It’s testament to the value Torren places on client communication, and to the quality he continuously achieves.
By working so closely with his clients, Torren is able to deliver designs that accommodate their needs and wants. That ability has not gone unnoticed. At the 2013 HIA Awards for the Hunter Region, for example, Torren Bell was named Residential Building Designer of the Year. The practice was also recognised by the HIA in 2011, has won several regional urban design awards and has made repeat appearance on TV’s ‘Australia’s Best Houses.’
The Residential Builder Designer of the Year award was won for a Salamander Bay home, which enjoys a magnificent view of Port Stephens headlands. The main objective of that design was to highlight the view, while providing a seamless connection from all indoor and outdoor living areas.
In their comments, HIA judges said Torren’s design achieved that objective. They also said the award-winning home brought “family and friends together with its generously scaled rooms and large glazed walls, while still allowing the owners to rest and relax in privacy”.
Torren says the project was “intensely complex,” and those complexities are obvious as soon as you walk in the door. He calls it a “statement home,” and says it has elements that stand out straight away, such as a floating staircase made from eight millimetre plate steel. But at the same time, the home was designed to be livable and maintenance-friendly, and to complement the local environment.
Torren says much of the credit for the success of the completed home was owed to the owners.
“They were exceptional,” he says. “They allowed me flexibility, and they had great imagination. Now they are extremely happy with the result. They say they love living in the house, and that it works extremely well for them and their family. For me, that’s the real reward.”