Type to search

For 30UNDER30’s Isabella Peppard Clark, sustainability is non-negotiable

For 30UNDER30’s Isabella Peppard Clark, sustainability is non-negotiable


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.

Isabella Peppard Clark, a registered architect in Victoria (ARBV), is deeply invested in sustainable design, with a specific focus on materials. In 2018, she earned her Master of Architecture from Monash University, concentrating on the history of structural materials, material science and educational architecture. For Peppard Clark, sustainability is not ‘a nice to have’, but an essential part of every project. Through her research and design, she hopes to demonstrate that sustainable design does not mean sacrificing aesthetics — it may mean adjusting it and embracing the beauty of materials. 

ADR: Do you have a preference for a particular style of architecture?

IPC: Commonly designers push back on sustainability because of its ‘aesthetic’. This may seem radical but I don’t see an issue with changing your aesthetic if it is better for the environment and people. Where’s the benefit in having an ‘aesthetic’ design if it runs over budget, destroys the environment, or makes people sick? Architecture that repurposes existing structures and products, and that celebrates structures and services by exposing them is beautiful. Materials that tell a story of their origin, processing and past lives have more depth. I think most people would agree that it’s easier to buy into a project when there is meaning behind the design decisions.

ADR: What does sustainability mean for you?

IPC: The reality is that we shouldn’t be building any new buildings or making any products with virgin materials. Sustainability is an essential part of every project and should be a core part of architectural services. In the Material Working Group I run, we looked at the barriers to more sustainable specification. This year we are launching Product Aware, a free tool for the whole industry to connect specifiers (architects, technicians, interior designers, builders etc.) with suppliers. Our free database lists products and collects general data from suppliers, as well as highlighting environmental criteria. The aim is to stop greenwashing in the industry.

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

IPC: Most recently, a special school we completed in the western suburbs of Naarm/Melbourne was an absolute dream project. The students were so lovely and had many challenges — you couldn’t ask for a more rewarding job. I was lucky enough to request to work on this back in the feasibility stage and be resourced to it. I also got to work with one of my besties! Later, I was able to see the project through to practical completion with the best team of engineers, builders and project managers. We completed the project two months early, and hundreds of thousands of dollars under budget.  

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

IPC: Mainly positive social and environmental change. When we talk about embodied carbon, as architects we specify products and therefore have a huge potential to influence the market towards a sustainable supply chain. 47 percent of global carbon emissions come from the construction industry. As a collective, if we can reverse that figure today, I could happily retire tomorrow! Obviously not financially retire from being an architect, but morally be more content. Social benefit is another strong motivator, I think most architects would agree. I’ve also stayed in the industry because I love the people, there are so many genuinely good people that you have the privilege to meet.

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

IPC: Humbled. This isn’t about me personally, but I’m grateful to ADR and the judges for giving me a platform to promote sustainability. Anyone who applied, or was shortlisted, could have been a finalist. I have never claimed to be naturally talented at architecture, but I work hard at it. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been told ‘no’ since starting out. A big thanks to everyone who has helped me in my career, and to everyone who has celebrated this moment with me. The other finalists seem really interesting and I’m looking forward to meeting them, as well as the ADR team and mentors.

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.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *