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Georgina Wilson: agile practice

Sep 23, 2016
  • Article by Online Editor

Georgina Wilson Architect is shortlisted in Zenith‘s Emerging Designer category at the 2016 IDEA Awards. The winners will be announced at the exclusive Gala Party on 18 November at Dockside Pavilion, Sydney.

To join us for a night of celebration with this year’s winners, click here to secure your discounted Early Bird tickets.

Based in Sydney, GW Architect is steadily building a folio of high end residential and commercial design. ADR speaks to the architect at its helm, Georgina Wilson, about her path through the industry and what makes her small practice tick.

ADR: Can you give a little insight into your work?

GW: I started GWA 5 years ago, after returning from living in France and having our first child. It was a good time to be small and agile as a practice and people seemed to value that.

Today, I am pleased with how our practice has developed into a wonderful tight knit team. We are still small and agile, but it is exciting to see how much we can achieve working with great people and appreciating their unique talents.

Where do you turn for inspiration, and which architects or designers have had the biggest influence on you?

We create our clients’ dream environments, so each project has the capacity to take us somewhere quite different.

I find inspiration in the opportunities and challenges that clients present when we work together. It is very much about responding to a challenge – or capitalising on an opportunity to make the most of an environment or lifestyle.

Inspiration is everywhere, but it is the challenge that focuses that creativity for me.

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GW Architect’s Oatley Road Residence

 

What excites or frustrates you about the current state of Australian architecture and design?

At the moment there is very diverse, great work being done in Australia, particularly by small emerging practices. The Australian ‘typology’ is consequently difficult to define, which is a good thing I think.

Technology is streamlining all sorts of processes in design, construction and business. I think this levels the playing field and allows small players to produce great work without requiring a big business behind them.

Current technology frees up so much time over the course of a project by streamlining arduous and ultimately inaccurate processes. It is wonderful to be able to spend this time doing the fun stuff, like creating better environments.

What has been the proudest achievement in your career to date?

I think my proudest achievement is the team and work environment that has been created at GWA. It is interesting how a business becomes more than the sum of its parts – it is something that I didn’t quite expect, but am very happy to see evolve so positively!

The studio consist of five architects. In addition, we have a financial manager, who is involved with the practice in a part-time capacity. We all work together in one space, so there is a lot of cross pollination of ideas across all projects. This extends to ideas of how the business works and how we can do better.

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Focus Eye Centre in Kingsford

 

I find transforming spaces deeply satisfying. It is also rewarding to see the effect that a physical transformation can have on a business as a whole.

We built a new eye hospital a few years ago. At first, I was really happy that it looked beautiful and we won some awards. But the lasting satisfaction has come from witnessing happy staff, happy patients and a well-functioning business within our designed environment.

Can you discuss the process behind the Paspalis, Centrepoint project you entered into IDEA this year?

This project had a very interesting trajectory. It took about a year to complete, and involved in depth discussion and learning about how the business works, and how we felt that growth could be best achieved going forward. It was very interesting to be able to apply current thoughts about co-working environments to a place like Darwin, which has unique challenges and opportunities in terms of geographic location, connectivity, climate and industry.

Our client not only runs the business centre, but owns the building as well. The project needed to drive positive outcomes for the business centre, and also for the asset as a whole. It was a pivotal project in that it has set the scene for a broader evolution of the whole building.

Paspalis Business Centre
Paspalis Business Centre

 

We designed a space that could specifically cater for a multitude of services including co working, conferencing, hot desking, catering, larger events and networking activities, incorporating state of the art communications technology. In this way, the design optimises commercial return and targeted usability.  In terms of the asset as a whole, the re-organisation of space has liberated approximately 1000 square metres of under-utilised area, and the building operates in a new way. This enabled a new Cotton On Mega store to be completed on the retail level, the largest retail project in the CBD this year.

The construction process was an education. We had a great local team who helped us to bring elements together from all over the world. We repurposed existing elements where possible and found that standardised, pre-fabricated elements were efficient in this remote location.

I had never been to Darwin before I became involved with this project. The environment definitely had a big impact on me and somehow the result encapsulates a very ‘NT’ vibe. It was vital to our client that the company’s long heritage in the Northern Territory was respected, celebrated and strengthened as a brand through the design process. I really feel that the project has been a success in this sense.

What are you working on currently?

We have projects on the drawing board at the moment that are very diverse and exciting.

Commercial projects include a series of day hospitals in Sydney’s east, an innovation hub for Darwin, some water front apartments in Birchgove.

Residential projects include renovations of classic Sydney houses – terraces in Paddington, free standing bungalows and semis in Randwick, Bondi and Maroubra, a Hamptons villa in Coffs Harbour, an Alpine home in Jindabyne.

We are also excited to be starting to design a new home in Vaucluse that has an incredible location and panoramic views of the harbour and ocean. We’re thinking mid-century LA glamour! Stay tuned..

Contact the practice via their website Georgina Wilson Architect.

www.zenithinteriors.com

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