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We are really pleased to announce Nicolas Gutierrez as a Partner and Director at Field Office Architecture.

Nic has been with the practice since 2019, however, his partnership with Chris stretches back 23 years since the two studied Architecture at Melbourne University.

With an impressive career spanning over 16 years, Nic has successfully led award-winning projects across the residential sector, delivering challenging, beautiful, and sustainable outcomes. His passion for creating spaces that inspire and enhance the human experience aligns perfectly with our practice’s core values. By way of introduction, we thought we’d share a quick Q+A with Nic.

 

Q – Tell us what you love about Architecture, and what got you hooked.

NG – I was hooked from the very beginning! With over 16 years of experience in the field and having worked in 3 small practices, my focus has always been on residential architecture.

After completing uni, I intentionally sought opportunities in small practices to gain exposure to the entire architectural process. I believed that understanding the big picture would prepare me for larger practices and projects, but I guess that never happened! I found my passion in the personal and intimate nature of small practices.

Architecture has always been about enhancing the human experience, and what more significant place is there than one’s home? From the most basic aspect of providing refuge, shelter, and comfort, to complementing and elevating how and with whom we share our lives.

I love the unique challenge that each client brings, getting to really know what makes them tick, and feeding off that to create something amazing that is all about them.

Q – You bring a fresh perspective to our team as a new partner. What’s your strongest skill set? How do you plan to blend your skills and ideas with our existing members to take our practice to the next level?

NG – On a human level, I’d say a strong sense of empathy and honesty are my key strengths. On a practical level, I’m methodical and deliberate, able to identify the essential aspects of a problem and organise an efficient way forward with the resources at hand.

It’s similar to how I see architecture as a catalyst to living our best lives, through my strengths. Through my strengths, I’m here as a catalyst to help bring out the best in our team and practice.

Q – What are some of the biggest challenges architects face in the residential sector these days? And more importantly, how do you tackle these hurdles? 

NG – The impact we have on our environment and what our world will look like for future generations. As an Architect, our profession inherently involves building, which consumes huge amounts of natural resources and energy and has a significant impact.

The best thing for the environment would be simply not to build, but as humans, we need to build to survive and progress. A key role as Architects is to help strike that balance and shape new construction to allow us to grow and develop as a society, but do so sustainably in the true sense of the word.

Q – What innovations in architecture inspire you? How do you think these advancements will shape our practice in the future?

NG – Innovations in sustainable and energy-efficient design through improved material technology, and the evolving integration of nature and architecture as beautifully resolved systems, is what I find truly inspiring.

As a practice, we incorporate eco-responsible materials and passive design strategies, to not only reduce the environmental impact but also enhance the living experience.

We must pursue this goal into the future and continue to integrate sustainable principles into every aspect of our practice and projects until it is not the exception but the norm.

FOA Journal 06 – August 2020

It’s been a few months since we sent you one of our journals, and I’m glad to say it’s because we’ve been super busy.

We’ve had two projects recently wrap up on site. Our Caulfield North House project has finally reached completion. This two-story, timber clad extension transforms a charming but desperately run-down 1930s dwelling into a beautiful, rich and spacious family home.

Secondly, Elsternwick House of which we collaborated with Winter Architecture has also reached completion, with our very excited client and their beautiful family, very happy to be settling in prior to the recent stage 4 lockdowns. This brand new, 4 bedroom home looks and feels amazing, and we look forward to sharing it with you soon. A reminder that we did a little interview on-site earlier this year which you can watch here.

Of course, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, along with the associated restrictions has continued to cast its spell across the year. We offer our best wishes to everyone in this difficult time, particularly those in Melbourne, and hope that you and your families remain healthy and safe. We have a huge amount of empathy for those whose industries and businesses are suffering as a result. Of course, we are all in this together and if there are things that we can do to help out, please feel free to get in touch.

As for FOA, it is mostly business as usual. We are all working from home again, which we’ve all been doing for the best part of 5 months. I feel like we’ve got it down to a pretty seamless transition now, and our work output has been genuinely free-flowing and productive.

However, there are plenty of times that we do miss the day to day interactions. Call me old fashioned, but I love being with my team in the studio, the face to face conversations, and the accidental moments of design inspiration. I also love seeing our city full of life and bustling with activity – we hope these times return soon.

In other news, Sanctuary Magazine recently published our Phoenix House Project from Roses Gap, Grampians. It’s such a great story, check it out right here.

On top of this, earlier this year, I was interviewed by Anthony Richardson and The Design Emotive to discuss the practice, our design process, and other bits and pieces. It’s a quick watch, feel free to check it out by clicking here, or the video below.

That’s about it for this month.

Stay safe and healthy, and we will look forward to seeing you all at the other end of this.

Chris + Team FOA

FOA Journal 05 – April 2020

We hope that you’re all going well, keeping safe and healthy and are hopefully in a good place with regard to your work and family life.

In many ways, it’s business as usual for FOA. We’re in the process of wrapping up two projects on-site that will likely finish up in the next month or so. We have another exciting one which is in the early stages of construction and is showing no signs of slowing down, and a series of very promising, and nicely challenging projects in the design phase.

Like most, we’ve been hit with some small hurdles as a result of covid-19, but overall, we’re counting ourselves fortunate to be in the position we are in and still feel optimistic about the year ahead. We’re also thinking about our own challenges in the great scheme of things and just how minor they are compared to all the various situations many are facing around the world.

It is worth noting that we feel quite strongly that now is a great time to start working towards any project that you may have had planned for the year ahead. Architecture and projects take time, and we see this as the perfect opportunity to get ahead, and be in a really great position when the market fires up again. We’re not sure exactly what things will look like when this is all over, but we are confident that there will be some great opportunities for those that are ready.

As I mentioned in our last correspondence, we’ve all been working from home this past month or so, and it’s been going really well. In case you were wondering what this looks like (I’m sure you’re dying to know…), here’s a snapshot…

In media news, we were interviewed for a podcast by The Design Emotive alongside Jean Graham from Winter Architecture on the topic of collaboration, particularly in the context of our Elsternwick House. If you’d like a listen, please click on the link below. It was 40 degrees the day we shot the video for this, so please keep that in mind when you see our shiny faces glisten…

>> Link here

FOA Journal 04 – January 2020

Hey friends. First Journal for the new year, and it couldn’t be a crazier time to do it.

We’ve had a really good start to the year, with some great milestones, new projects, and others starting on site.

However, like many right now, we’re looking at the world with a sense of uncertainty as to what will unfold over the coming weeks and months. It’s certainly a strange feeling out there.

As far as the practice is concerned, it’s still business as usual as we continue to deliver a series of exciting projects that we’re really loving, and take on new ones.

In terms of our operations, they continue as normal, however, we’ve made the decision for the team to work from home for the immediate future. We will still be making ourselves available for all meetings and site visits.

We’re fortunate enough to be a small nimble team with experience and systems in place for remote work, and whilst we are concerned about the events around us, nothing will change as far as our work is concerned

Last week, the latest Sanctuary Magazine it the shelf, and it contained a massive feature of our Clifton Hill Terraces project. The completion of these two sustainable dwellings were a massive highlight for us for us last year, and we are still very appreciative of our wonderful clients, Diana and Amaryll who were willing to pursue such a bold brief. If you can’t get your hands on a hard copy, please check out this link to read. You can also find more information on the project in this link here.

Looking forward to chatting soon,

Chris + Team FOA

PS: Oh one last thing… I thought it’d be nice to show you my current inspiration. From desk at home, I now have my 20 month old daughter Orla’s first ever pieces artwork to keep me motivated….

Just a quick message to say Merry Christmas, happy holidays, or whatever it is this period ahead means to you.

We’ve had a really special year at FOA with some notable highlights, which included some prestigious recognition with awards for Clifton Hill Terraces, the launch of our new website, and a number of new and challenging projects which we can’t wait to share with you in the new year. The practice continued to grow as well with projects in both the residential and food and beverage sectors, something we’re really excited about developing further in 2020.

On a personal level, I’m currently writing this from the ferny, sunny hills of Ohope Beach, Whakatane NZ, and am using the time out here to reflect upon the year that’s just been. Small practice, especially in architecture is never completely a smooth ride, it’s always a combination of very rewarding thrills and major challenges, but either way, we couldn’t do it without our friends, families, clients, collaborators, etc. FOA is very lucky to have such a great network around us, so thank you.

FYI our studio officially closes this afternoon and will reopen 6 January 2020.

Look forward to catching up with you all next year!

Chris + Team FOA

Ps: Feel free to check out our recently completed Brunswick East House here, the images of which you can see above and below left. Recently photographed by Dave Kulesza, this project was a collaboration with Winter Architecture who helped us out in the initial stages of the project whilst we temporarily took the studio to Bali in 2017.

FOA Journal 3

Hey there.

It’s been about 2 years in the making, but we’re wrapt to say that we finally have a new Field Office Architecture website. Which means that we also have new goofy looking pictures of all us (care of the great work by Kristoffer Paulsen). Credits for the website go to SPGD to also did a wonderful job.

Feel free to visit the new site right here.

Or, if you’re feeling particularly browser-tab-minimalist, then we made a quick video for you. Just click on the big play arrow below…

The process of creating a website that ultimately defines your practice (or thereabouts), is a tricky one, much harder than I imagined that it would be. We worked pretty closely with the designer, and it’s fair to say that the path taken along the way did take a few detours. I think the biggest challenge is the urge to scream out to your audience, “look at every single thing we’ve done. And here’s a whole bunch of other stuff here too!”. We had to remind ourselves at some critical points, not to chase the bright shiny object, and to strip everything back to its core necessity.

Which is probably a good metaphor for the way we approach design in architecture. We preach simplicity, calm and restrained material palettes, and an emphasis on functionality. We hope that’s been achieved here…

In other news, we were thrilled on Wednesday night to pick up a Commendation award for Clifton Hill Terraces in the Residential New category at the ArchitTeam Awards. We were amongst some great talent and wonderful projects in this category which had a number of entrants, so needless to say it was humbling and a great honour to pick up this award.

This is now the third piece of recognition for Clifton Hill Terraces, also a winner at the Yarra City Council Sustainability Awards, and a finalist at the InDesign Sustainability Awards.

FOA Journal 02 – September 2019

We are pleased to recently learn that our Clifton Hill Terraces project had been named a finalist in this year’s Sustainability Awards, in the multiple dwelling category.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to hear this! With at least 168 entries, it’s wonderful to make the final few, and we’ll find out if we won in November. Check it here.

It is not a unique position for many of us in architecture to say that, basic principles of environmentally responsive design should always be implemented regardless of project, client or budget. We’re fortunate enough to be part of a profession that is increasingly lifting the bar for what it means to create passive, responsible design (though the building industry generally has a long way to go).

But even in the work we do, there’s always a paradox, which is obvious in the sense that, the most sustainable building will always have a far greater impact on our environment than not building anything at all.

Save from making ourselves obsolete, it’s good to remind ourselves of the words of legendary industrial designer, Dieter Rams; “Less, but better”. It’s one of my favourite quotes.

We will always have a need to house a growing population and replace what no longer works, and every time we do, we are given the unique opportunity to design something that is better. And what is better? In architecture, the measurables are endless. But a big one for us will always be; designed to endure.

With the Clifton Hill Terraces project, we had a wonderfully brave client who was keen on pushing every boundary possible when it came to ESD. The result is a development that can operate essentially off-grid, a rare feat in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne. But we know that technology will change, users will change, and the effectiveness of certain features may not always be the same as they are now.

What makes the project a success, and what makes it sustainable, is that we’ve designed a home that the client would like to live in for the rest of their lives. Here’s a snippet from our client;

We love living in our beautifully designed home. It has a really comfortable solidity, serenity & quiet about it. It has been so well made. Lots of well-placed windows with views out to gardens, decking etc. We’ve been in it for almost 18 months now so have experienced all seasons. In spring & autumn the home needs virtually no extra heating or cooling, in summer it’s easy to open up the house to cooling cross breezes in the evening.

In other news, here’s a pretty picture of a new project that we hope will be coming out of the ground sometime soon. The site here has a wonderful slope that has presented some great opportunities to seize upon some amazing views and natural light.We hope you’re having a great month. If you’d like to chat about your new project, or anything at all, we’d love to hear from you.

Chris + Team FOA