‘Inventing practice’ could imply a grand plan from the start, but our use of this phrase is more about learning through experimentation, the sense of optimism, the gradual improvement over time, and not knowing where you might find yourself.
To explore this idea, we invited our staff to participate in an open conversation, framed around a set of themes that we feel reveals something about the way we work together.
In this conversation, we are interested to speculate on how such continuities might be matters of process as well as architectural language.
JWA’s practice life is based in Melbourne, but practice members also enjoy occasional short stays on Bruny Island for charrettes, and an annual weekend of tree planting and other farming projects. For John the visits are more regular and create a contrast between city and country. They are different islands. How does this engagement with Bruny Island influence the practice culture?
Andy – We’ve had the Bruny experience over many years, but it has gathered more momentum lately. It started off as a tree-planting exercise – getting down to Bruny Island and getting hands-on over the weekend. We’d get to the island, spend a full day of hard work planting trees or building things, and then spend a full day sitting down, eating and drinking.
The Bruny environment is different in a couple of ways. The big thing is that the office hierarchy breaks down there. John is the wonderful host, wining and dining us, but there’s also a kind of equity – everyone has equal say in how we’re building or doing something. I find that quite refreshing.
For me, the other quite profound thing is the grounding experience. At Bruny we’re physically on the ground all day. We’re meeting locals – from a cheesemaker to a woodcutter. We’re walking across a paddock or walking across a beach. There’s no internet, no TV – people have to communicate face-to-face. It’s a contrast to the office where we’re constantly emailing or talking on the phone. It’s a shift. It’s wonderful.