Architecture nourishes people’s lives
Suzanne Hunt Architect
ESTABLISHED IN Perth in 2004 Suzanne Hunt Architect is a boutique architectural and interior design practice specialising in contemporary high end residential architecture and interior heritage and hospitality projects. “We have completed work in the Perth Metropolitan area, and country WA, and we are currently working with a client in NSW as well,” says Suzie.
“My ethos for the practice is that great architecture nourishes people’s lives not only physically but spiritually and emotionally. I want the houses we design to express harmony warmth and a calm simplicity. This is very important to me.
“Along with my practice commitments I have also sat on The Heritage Council’s Development Committee, and was Heritage Advisor to the Department of Justice (Prisons), City of Subiaco and Town of Cottesloe. Currently I sit on the Rottnest Island Board, the AIA Chapter Council and the City of Melville’s Architectural and Urban Design Advisory Panel
Suzie’s architectural career has been varied “which is exactly how I like it”.
After graduating with Honours from Curtin University in 1986 she worked in London as a Design Architect for four years before heading back to Perth in 1991.
Working for the State Government agency BMW Suzie was a Project Architect on a number of heritage projects in particular the Fremantle Prison and for a time was seconded to the Department of Justice touring Australia looking at court house lock ups.
She left government in 1996 to have the first of her four children. Suzie continued working on small projects from home and in 1999 with her then partner, established Wilson Hunt Design Consultants. “We specialised in hospitality completing a number of award winning projects.
“I registered in the UK in 1989 and in WA in 1994.” Suzie was recently made a Fellow of the Institute of Architects -one of only six female architects.
The first clients of Suzanne Hunt Architect were Tricia and Denis Horgan, owners of Leeuwin Estate Winery in Margaret River. “They are now my friends and biggest cheerleaders. I often send potential clients to visit their home and after a beautiful glass of Leeuwin Chardonnay with Denis and Tricia they are won over….hopefully they like the architecture as well! The practice continues to work with the family. I feel very lucky to have Denis and Tricia as supporters,” says Suzie with pride.
“I started SHA with one staff member, my colleague now Associate Catherine Lee with whom I had worked with in my previous practice. We both had small children aged 2 to 7 and I was recently divorced so we worked from my loft bedroom part time around day care hours and school holidays. It was tough but we never lost our enthusiasm for great design and our sense of humour.
“I feel very privileged to have had a colleague and friend who I totally trust and is an equal and integral member of the leadership team. In the last 12 years we have grown the
business while always maintaining the practice’s ethos of great design, actively trying to maintain a work life balance whilst enjoying ourselves,” she says.
The practice now numbers seven with a combination of full and part time architects, graduates and interior designers.
“I am very careful about not taking on too much work ensuring that our clients have the personalised attention that we promise. We have recently moved into a new office in Nedlands which we refurbished and share with another architect. Sitting in our very cool office filled with plants and retro furniture Cat and I feel like we have finally grown up…a bit like our kids now feel as they leave school!”
When asked about the practice concentrating on timber use, Suzie’s reply was ... “I love honest, robust and earth materials, beautiful detailing and creating a feeling of sensuality and elegance. I want our homes to seamlessly fit into the landscape and suit our climate so timber is pretty much a staple ingredient for all our projects. We are continually looking for new timber products that are both sustainable and beautiful and creating new opportunities to use them. We are also so lucky to have brilliant expertise in Perth with our joiner Abbotsolutely Timbers and our main timber supplier Austim in our office pretty much every week!”
Which brings us to the brief for the 2015 award winning Bedfordale House Interior Fitout ...
“We wanted to create a home that would be suitable for this time in our lives, but also one we could live in forever. It needed to be tranquil, feel spacious and beautiful but most importantly we wanted a comfortable home.” That was how a Bedfordale House Client discussed their brief.
“Serenity, tranquillity, sustainability, flexibility and a dynamic connection with context were the key design drivers for our engaged, retired clients. Located in the Perth hills, Bedfordale House is our client’s sanctuary reflecting their love of Japanese aesthetics, robust materiality and nature. The elegance and scale of the single level pavilions with uncluttered interiors and minimal furnishings convey a sense of calm, a retreat from the world’s demands allowing the buildings bones, the interior architecture to become the decoration.”
The interior design, integral to the connection with nature, is reflected in the robust, durable and honest materiality selections of local basalt, rammed earth, solid timber, timber veneer and earth-toned travertine. Nature is encouraged to gently enter and retreat as pavilion’s open up transforming exterior spaces into ‘roofless rooms’. Gardens at the edge of rooms draw the eye outward and reflected light from ponds bounce off exposed timber ceilings and travertine floors, creating a subtle warm hue. Frameless timber windows capture views of the valley like art-pieces.
Traditional separation of internal spaces is replaced by designed timber cabinetry, sliding shoji screen walls and detailed timber ceilings. This very personal house has been designed with flexibility to enable it to transition with the owners now in their late 60’s. Ultimately Bedfordale House “touches the earth lightly” on many levels”.
SHA were absolutely thrilled to win the 2015 Timber Design Interior Fitout - Residential Award and be shortlisted in the Timber Veneer category for Bedfordale House.
“This project has won a number of awards, however, personally, this was the most important as timber was an integral part of the design and the award recognised the level of detail of design we accomplished with our builders. We had a ball at the awards event and were lucky enough to be sitting with the sponsor of our awards Hurford Timber.”
Suzie said the awards were a wonderful acknowledgement to the team and provided a sense of achievement and encouragement.
“We have new and exciting work on the board in a tough market so I believe the Timber Design Award expanded our reach and helped grow our business.
“In the long term, I hope as a business we have the opportunity to continue working with amazing people and creating beautiful work,” said Suzie.