Australian Design Review’s 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World stream will feature Breathe design director Jeremy McLeod as a mentor and judge. Breathe is a studio of change agents, advocating for the people in the cities where we live and work. The team creates spaces that are meaningful and accessible to everyone, prioritising ethics along with aesthetics and design without ego, to create the best outcomes for clients and communities.
Australian Design Review: As you prepare to take on the role of a mentor in the upcoming stream of the ADR 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World Program, what motivated you to become involved and share your expertise with the next generation of architectural talent?
Jeremy McLeod: I established Breathe as an architecture firm to have impact. We use design as a weapon for good because we believe that humanity and the planet matter. I’ve thought a lot about our role as architects. And I’ve thought a lot about the architecture and the design profession over the past few years and how we can establish impact. The place where I believe I can have the most impact is in sharing our knowledge, our expertise and, importantly, our view of the world with future generations. I want to teach young designers everything I know. I want to empower them to use their skills for good.
ADR: Looking forward to your mentorship role, how do you envision tailoring your guidance to the unique challenges and opportunities that young architects face in a rapidly evolving architectural landscape?
ADR: The 30UNDER30 program emphasises innovation. Could you provide a sneak peek into the innovative approaches or insights you plan to impart onto your mentees, encouraging them to think beyond conventions while maintaining architectural integrity?
JM: The role of the architect in the 21st century has changed. It’s not just about designing big homes for the wealthy. Our role now, during a climate and housing crisis, is more critical than ever. I want to help young architects use their design thinking as not only architects but also as entrepreneurs. And I want them to question the status quo that they’re working within. If the system they’re working within is broken, I want to teach them to tear it down and rebuild it from the ground up.
ADR: Mentorship often involves a two-way exchange of knowledge. How do you anticipate that your interactions with the mentees will influence or inspire your own architectural perspective and creative thinking?
JM: Mentoring and teaching is a two-way gift. I love teaching. The energy, the innovation, the imagination and the beautiful naivety that young designers bring fills me with hope for the future.
It is often this hope that carries me through the toughest times in our practice.
ADR: As you prepare to engage with emerging architects in the program, how do you plan to foster a sense of community and collaboration among mentees, creating an environment where they can learn not only from you but also from each other?
JM: I believe that there is incredible beauty and compounding outcomes that come through collaboration.
Our work on Nightingale and bringing other architects to work with us culminated last year in the completion of the Nightingale Village. It wasn’t one building by Breathe. It was six buildings by some of the best architects in the country. We pushed each other, we learned from each other, but importantly, we made the city a better place for it. I want everyone in this program to learn to trust each other, to be generous with their intellectual property, to listen to each other and, importantly for their clients and the cities that they work within, to win through that collaboration.
ADR: Fast forward a few years from now, reflecting on your time as a mentor in the ADR 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World, what markers of success do you hope to see in your mentees’ careers and the broader architectural realm, driven by the impact of this mentorship initiative?
JM: I hope to see architects and designers stepping out of their comfort zone. Not just waiting for commissions, but driving projects forward, driving initiatives forward, driving social justice and equity forward, and leading their peers towards a meaningful sustainable future.
Australian Design Review’s 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World stream is sponsored by Major sponsors Neolith, plus Gold sponsors Miele and Tongue & Groove.
Practice partners that support ADR’s 30UNDER30 Architects and Innovators of the Built World include BVN, HDR, SJB, Richard Stanisich Architecture, Williams Burton Leopardi, Billard Leece Partnership.
Featured Image: Co-founder of Breathe Architecture and design director Jeremy McLeod, photography by Kate Longley.
Read Breathe principal Bonnie Herring discussing how design needs to be utilised as a force for good.