One Of The Best

Market Insights
9 years ago
3 minutes spoke to Callum Fraser of the illustrious architecture firm Elenberg Fraser, ahead of the construction of UEM Sunrise's Aurora Melbourne Central.

Elenberg Fraser's portfolio includes the construction of institutional restaurants such as Vue de Monde and Gingerboy, as well as large residential constructions such as Liberty Tower, A'Beckett Tower and the soon to be built Aurora Tower.
Looking back and forward, what do you think is Elenberg Fraser’s design philosophy?

Callum Fraser:
For us, architecture is what happens when we are faced with an impossible problem. Before we even get to the point of solving them, our process involves identifying each project’s unique problem and only then, can we get to the next step of inventing a solution. There are often multiple conflicts in each project brief, stemming from the requirements of a broad group of stakeholders. We enjoy resolving those seemingly impossible conflicts. We identify the unique problem of each project, the process of identification and invention is achieved through genuine interrogation – asking the right questions without pre-empting answers.

Are you setting trends, or is public/developer demand influencing your designs?

We approach each project from the position of our client and the perspective of future inhabitants, creating architecture that responds to the unique constraints presented by each brief, in each culture, in each city.

Original design solutions not only look good but work for all stakeholders of the built environment: the client, the community and the end users. In terms of the speculative built environment, there is no “client.” There’s no person who is asking you to make a kitchen like this, or whom you can run a design past. What we often do is read the Census [of Population and Housing] data for the area to understand who the end occupant is likely to be, for example whether it’s an owner-occupier or a renter, and then interpret that information to imagine who that person is, to set up an invisible matrix of impulses that can inform the design.

What architectural trends can we expect for 2015/16? Is it just bigger and taller, the better?

The Australian architectural environment is becoming more confident and relying less on international precedents to justify their design platform. The result of this is that we are seeing a much more local architectural interpretation of climatic conditions into high density living – buildings are becoming much more responsive environmentally (in terms of their solar control and ventilation standards) and culturally (with respect to their internal organisation). We are enjoying more freedom with the development of the internal community of tall buildings through structured community spaces and facilities – the building technology is reinforcing this approach.  So definitely smarter and more experimental for us in 2015/16.

Are developers wanting risky/trendy designs, or is there still a discrepancy between an architect’s creativity (and edginess) to the developers rigidity for budgeting and planning?

Developers have always been seeking design that adds value and operability rather than just costing money for little effect.  As the market has become more sophisticated we have seen developers appreciate value being constructed in more varying ways; so innovations in housing types and plan concepts are now expected rather than resisted.  Building identity through architectural innovation has become a core sales platform for many development houses and community development strategies have made their way from master planned housing estates into high rise building structures. So while value creation is still a non-negotiable gateway, there are many more avenues to innovate.