De­sign notebook

Q&A with Ash­ley Muir of Ma­son & Wales Ar­chi­tects

HOME Magazine NZ - - A Passage Of Time -

Lois and Rolfe Mills were keen on a “young ar­chi­tect who lis­tened”. How many houses did you have un­der your belt be­fore this one? Lois and Rolfe, and another cou­ple, pro­vided the ul­ti­mate gift to a newly grad­u­ated ar­chi­tect – they com­mis­sioned me to de­sign a build­ing. I in­stantly re­alised the huge trust that they had placed in me. I needed to lis­ten. This was a se­ri­ous un­der­tak­ing and Rolfe and Lois needed the ut­most re­spect, in­sight and thought­ful­ness in the work that I did for them, and for all of my other clients since. You spent a lot of time talk­ing about the house be­fore you started de­sign­ing. How did that in­flu­ence your prac­tice on sub­se­quent projects? Con­ver­sa­tions with the client – whether for a house or a com­mer­cial build­ing – pro­vide all sorts of in­sights into what a client re­ally wants. I was once en­gaged to de­sign a ware­house with a bud­get of $25 mil­lion and what the client told me, in two meet­ings, in­di­cated to me that they didn’t need a ware­house at all – they sim­ply needed to load their prod­ucts into a con­tainer for trans­port to the cus­tomer. They didn’t build the ware­house. The house at­tracted a bit of lo­cal con­ster­na­tion at the time – have you ex­pe­ri­enced any­thing sim­i­lar since? Now the pub­lic con­ver­sa­tions are dif­fer­ent. The fix­a­tion is with size or cost. What are you work­ing on these days? I’ve al­ways been a gen­eral prac­ti­tioner so I am work­ing with clients on many houses all over New Zealand and on a hand­ful of large com­mer­cial build­ings, ho­tels and apart­ment build­ings.

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