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This week we speak with Woods Bagot Principal Peter Miglis.
ADR: What inspires you?
Peter Miglis: Growing up, my father had a cabinet-making workshop and my uncle was an artist and potter. As a child I would often watch them make things. For me that was a real lesson as a child; I was inspired by seeing projects come to fruition. The experience planted a seed and I developed an appreciation of how product can influence behaviours. These two mentors gave me an insight into being creative and creating tangible products, which influenced me to take on architecture, a combination of art and product.
What inspires me is how we as humans can make a positive contribution to the community in which we live. From a design perspective, it’s how we can influence the built environment. As designers, we’ve got a huge responsibility in regards to how we influence and shape other people’s responses to the built environment.
Every creative puts a part of themselves into their work. Which of your projects has been the most important to you and why?
There are probably two – Firstly, My own house. The ultimate test for an architect is to be able to design their own family home and to be uncompromising on the clarity of the idea. Quite often we go through a process with many stakeholders and there are compromises, but here you are ultimately tested as your own client. A home for the family to grow and nurture. It very much reflects the way I grew up, outside with a big family, often entertaining – those attributes are in my DNA. The home promotes celebration, spaces are neither inside nor out, landscaping throughout stimulates the senses, influencing and supporting the way we live.
And secondly, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). For me growing up in Adelaide and now living in Melbourne, the opportunity was almost like giving a gift back to the city. Being away I could see the project through a different lens and see how it was a rare opportunity to challenge the conventions of a medical building. It changed the whole perception of what architecture can be – the potential we have as designers and the outcomes we can create is motivating. We created more of a civic building that has become a symbol of hope, emblematic of the future. It’s a showpiece for Adelaide to show how progressive the city can be.
What is your favourite place or space in Australia and why?
Anything that is connected to water. For me, water evokes a sense of place, open-mindedness, infinity. It’s the most tranquil environment. Going away with my family and friends, holidays are always spent next to the ocean.
What has been the most inspiring and/or defining moment of your life and why?
Collaborating with a number of our global studios and the individuals within including Melbourne, New York and Adelaide when we were working on SAHMRI. While the project was conceptualised locally, with international involvement we were able to take the project to a greater dimension. The process of collaboration is truly powerful.
What would you say has been your proudest moment, either career-wise or otherwise?
It has to be the process of watching my son grow up. A child can make you see things differently. Being able to foster and nurture an individual, sharing those moments and seeing how someone becomes much more socially and culturally conscious, and realising how you can influence that. Being a father.
What are you working on currently and what are your goals for the future, either personally or professionally?
We are currently working on a number of mixed-use, very socially responsible projects that involve adaptive reuse of existing building and precincts. These projects have deep meaning and influence environmentally, they have an inherent sense of community and are culturally aware.
For example, Young Husbands in Melbourne is a multi-storey red-brick warehouse next to a rail line. The site comprises a series of buildings connected by an old bluestone lane and skybridges – arguably an urban design project as much as an architectural challenge. The adaptive reuse design of the original woolstores will create a central town square-like area and a sense of pedestrian navigability through the property, along with residential and retail tenancies that vary in scale.
As architects and designers we nurture ourselves by communicating with and relating to others. By having that constant dialogue with our global network of studios, Woods Bagot provides the global network connecting individuals. Informative and productive, it enables us to deeply understand the different ways people live and experience the global community.
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