Peter Maddison is an award winning architect and host of Grand Designs Australia, which has evolved off the back of the successful UK based series. Peter has made the local offshoot his own, with his eye for detail and practical insights garnered from some 25 years as a practising architect. hipages caught up with Peter at the recent Grand Designs Australia Live event in Sydney, where he chatted to hipagesTV.
I watched the Lake Bennett House episode, which was memorable for the passion of the participants. What are your recollections of this project?
“Trevor and Francoise were very dedicated and passionate. They were attempting a large and complex project with a very limited budget, largely based on his labour and relying on the generosity of friends. Trevor was possibly the most honest person you could meet. He also had a deep respect for nature – so much so that he would not lift a rock to use in the build in case it had insects living under it.”
What is your favourite Australian building?
“That is a tough question. I might have to go for the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, which celebrates the part the gold rush played in the establishment of our city. The design of the building takes inspiration from the white horizontal stripes on a surveyor's measuring staff. I love the way this building reacts to light depending on where you view it from. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to design the Skydeck - an observation deck on the 88th floor.”
What mistakes have you seen people make on the show?
“You can’t really avoid making a mistake if you building something new. A house is a prototype and errors and mistakes are part of the process. If your plans are well prepared you should look to have a contingency budget of around five to ten per cent of your total budget. We had a couple (Peter and Mary) on the show whose budget doubled. That’s what happens when you do it yourself. There are lot of unknown aspects for the uninitiated.”
What tips do you have for budgeting?
“People tend to forget about all the ancillary costs associated with building. So a $1 million house is really a lot less than that if you take these into account.”
What type of relationship should home owners have with their architect?
“I always try to have a close and personal involvement with my clients. That way you can ensure that you tailor their environment to their lifestyle.”
What trends do you see from a house design perspective?
“Australia is such a big place – a house in north Queensland looks very different to one in Hobart – and so it should. I think everyone is embracing sustainability, though it is disappointing that it is often as a token gesture. Putting some solar panels on the roof does make not make it a sustainable home.”
You are an award winning architect. What makes a home award winning?
“First and foremost it must be original, inspirational and break out of the mould. On a practical note it must also fit the brief and the budget of the client.”
How about future design trends?
“I think the housing market will be transformed in the next decade or two, with more inventive use of space. Houses will get smaller with multi-use rooms – houses will be multi-use and will not be empty all day. We will have different patterns of living.”
In terms of trends, what materials are you seeing a demand for?
“There is a strong return to natural materials like timber, but also to exposed, unfinished surfaces that are exposed to the elements. In a similar vein concrete is also being used in its raw form."
I believe that you are a keen surfer – does being on the water inform your work in any way?
“I think that being exposed to the natural world definitely gives me time for contemplation. It is also a great way of keeping grounded.”
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