05 July 2018
05 July 2018
SJB, Sydney: Beauty, Delight, Surprise.
The Culture of Practice
With 45 per cent of its practice female, SJB is tackling Australia’s gender divide in architecture. The firm is one of ten to take part in the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter’s Male Champions of Change programme which gathered the male leaders of the country’s largest offices with the aim of improving equality – to rebalance the gender gap to ensure the future of practice included a more equal representation of women in leadership roles. “We started by asking the question – why do we not have equal representation of women and men in leadership roles across our studio? What are the barriers to equality and how do we re-engineer our approach to ensure there is no unconscious bias at play?” says Director Adam Haddow.
Alongside other initiatives, it now publishes a report each year – to coincide with International Women’s Day – to help track the practice’s progress. The practice, which employs around 120 staff in its Sydney office, also uses its position to carry out work in its community, from staff volunteering in the local soup kitchen, working with Aboriginal communities in remote communities, and designing an office space for a local women’s refuge. “It is such a rewarding experience being able to work with communities who don’t normally have access to professional design services. We don’t just exist in the community. We see ourselves as part of it – it is our responsibility to contribute,” adds Haddow.
The studio, which works on anything from highly detailed, bespoke one-off houses to large-scale masterplans, prefers to work locally. Haddow comments: “We believe in the ‘glocal’ – global knowledge deployed on projects where we are part of the local community. We believe in the power of place and love finding design outcomes which are specific and idiosyncratic.” Containing four divisions – urban design, planning, architecture, and interior design – the open-plan office where everyone sits together facilitates a level of openness.
“While there does need to be a level of hierarchy to ensure structure, we believe that everyone’s voice is important. People need to feel comfortable having a conversation with a director or with the client, whether they are someone who has been here for 40 years or a student,” adds Haddow.
Author: Josefina Luna, Marketing Assistant, Bespoke Careers