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30UNDER30’s Harry Joe Kealy pushes boundaries to be at the forefront of the new

30UNDER30’s Harry Joe Kealy pushes boundaries to be at the forefront of the new


Australian Design Review (ADR) recently revealed the 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World for 2023/2024. To celebrate, we are getting to know this exciting multidisciplinary cohort, the passions that drive their work and what makes them tick creatively.

Harry Joe Kealy embarked on a diverse career journey, transitioning from fine arts to graphic design and eventually settling in architecture. His work reflects a broad perspective and naturally draws inspiration from the architecture-adjacent disciplines of art, industrial design, graphic design and computational design. Embracing evolution and diversity, Kealy’s creative ethos is to push boundaries and explore the new. His architectural endeavours are infused with a dynamic and innovative spirit that seeks to bring architecture, art and graphic design closer together.

ADR: How did your love for architecture originate?

HJK: I’ve always been creative-leaning. You could say I’ve just followed my nose. I started in fine arts, but I wanted to experiment and try different things. Architecture isn’t something you can just try on, and I was able to segue into architecture via an internal university transfer.

Initially, I found that jumping from art to design was difficult, but eventually, it did click. Now that I’ve got the hang of architecture, I’m beginning to look towards art and graphic design, exploring the possibilities of tying these forms back in. 

ADR: What does sustainability mean for you?

HJK: Sustainability needs to be the highest priority, but it is a beast with many arms. To make a meaningful difference we need to look at our work on all scales, from urban planning to interior design. 

As an industry, we’re probably not doing as much as we could, and I suspect we’ll start to see a generation of architectural designers coming through university who are going to hold a much higher standard because they’re depending on [sustainability for the future of our planet].

Interior Perspective of Kangaroo Valley Residence. Design by  EM BE CE. Rendered by Harry Joe Kealy

ADR: Is there a particular project that you’ve worked on that has been the highlight of your career so far?

HJK: At EM BE CE we worked on a house in Kangaroo Valley for a client who was a climate scientist. They didn’t just want to ‘talk the talk’ of sustainability, they wanted to walk the walk. We had to design the house to the highest standard that we could. From the macro of siting and orientation, all the way down to the micro with materials, fabrication and construction techniques. 

It was a great learning experience and gave everyone involved a chance to re-evaluate a number of our design principles and demonstrate that sustainability doesn’t have an aesthetic of its own. It can be beautiful too.

Exterior Perspective of Kangaroo Valley Residence. Design by  EM BE CE. Rendered by Harry Joe Kealy

ADR: What drives your work and what do you hope to achieve in your architecture career?

HJK: To be frank I’m only focussed on designing and finding what is at the forefront. This isn’t to say I discount other issues like sustainability or social and cultural issues. These are factors that fold into good design. 

For me, it almost purely comes down to finding the path to something new. You have to look at what has been done, what is being done, and who is at the forefront of design. I strongly believe there are lots of clues for new avenues in other creative industries that are more experimental and faster moving [than architecture]. We have the technology to test at a fast pace and visualise design, so why aren’t all practices rendering, testing and sharing their experiments?

If we can glean something that opens the door to a new kind of design, or at least push boundaries and share our risks, I think that’s where I want to stay.

ADR: How did it feel to make it into Australian Design Review’s 30UNDER30?

HJK: All the entrants, including the shortlist, have such unique approaches and talents for so many ways of thinking — to be put amongst them is a real honour…with an added handful of imposter syndrome.

Lead image, Harry and Sarah. Photographer: Tim Lau

ADR’s 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World stream is brought to you by major sponsor Neolith, alongside Miele, Interface and Tongue & Groove. The program is also supported by practice partners BVN, HDR INC, SJB, Richard Stanisich, Williams Burton Leopardi, and Billard Leece Partnership. To find out more about the final 30, including their places of work and discipline areas, head to the 30UNDER30 page.


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