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30UNDER30’s Harsha Rajashekar on designing spaces and objects that redefine living, working, and healing

30UNDER30’s Harsha Rajashekar on designing spaces and objects that redefine living, working, and healing


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.

Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) project architect Harsha Rajashekar’s work focuses on the logical and functional aspects of architecture, particularly in the design of hospitals. Based on his personal childhood experiences, Rajashekar is dedicated to making hospitals less daunting and more inviting, especially for children. His current project involves designing a children’s hospital in Sydney, driven by his aspirations to positively impact the lives of patients, clinicians and families.

ADR: How did your love for architecture originate?

HR: Growing up, I watched films at every opportunity I had. I developed a love for the way teams of creative people came together to generate atmospheres and tell stories. I recognised architecture and design as one of the most remarkable mediums used to set the tone and convey very specific moods within these stories, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this world in some way. Nowadays, all the reasons why I loved architecture at the start have played out in more ways than I originally thought. The diversity and playfulness that a career in architecture provides has kept me on the edge of my seat.

ADR: What does sustainability mean for you?

HR: Sustainability is a broad term. I don’t think there is any one single way to practise it. It necessitates many people to pitch in at different scales, and in different ways, to produce a lasting outcome. To me, sustainability has always been about setting up an environment that encourages inhabitants to directly contribute to the repair, restoration and continuation of our natural surroundings. I believe the modern lifestyles we all live, shaped by mid-century industrialisation, have been destructive. Perhaps the trick might be to flip the script and use the same mantras of productive industrialisation and its techniques against itself, to cultivate the natural environment instead of destroying it. Architecture and design can be an extraordinary medium to channel, focus and enable humans to do this. It is something I explored with my friend and design collaborator Chris Cattell in our Bio-rig project.

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

HR: The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has by far been the highlight of my career. It is a complex and major hospital development for the Westmead Health Precinct that will affect the lives of thousands moving forward. It is currently in construction, and I am grateful to have contributed towards such a key piece of public infrastructure in a rapidly developing part of Sydney. Having been involved in the project from the very start, it has fundamentally informed the way I think about designing buildings, and it has also contributed towards the experience I required to register as an architect.

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

HR: What drives my work is my aspiration to design spaces and objects that redefine living, working, and healing, in places that are often missing these things. My aims are simple but ambitious — I wish to achieve these outcomes by jumping into the deep end and collaborating as much as I can. I would love to be in a position where I can pass on all the lessons learnt to the next generation of aspiring architects.

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

HR: It felt unreal! It was so exciting to see that I had made it into ADR’s 30UNDER30. To know that I was considered among so many talented people has given me the confidence to celebrate and speak more about my own work. I can’t wait to hear about everything that all the other incredible recipients have been working on and I’m also looking forward to everything I can learn from them. 

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.

Photographer, Hugh Stewart. Design renders courtesy of Harsha Rajashekar.


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