11 July 2018
11 July 2018
John Wardle Architects, Melbourne: Idiosyncratic, Discursive, Overlapping.
The Culture of Practice
John Wardle Architects is currently working on a farmhouse in Victoria, a vertical university in Melbourne, a private art gallery in Sydney and a resort in Tasmania. This wide range of projects displays the variety that comes out of the 80-strong Melbourne-based practice. “The construct of the office is amazingly broad,” says Founder John Wardle.“Despite this, we still ensure our cultural values are present in everything we do.”
All the practice’s projects are strongly rooted in its cultural ideas. This can be seen in the firm’s office which it says “closely defines the practice, cultures and means of operation.” Located in an old paint factory, the office they have created also provides space for a café, artists’ studios, exhibition spaces and a production space for an arts organisation.
Flags, newly commissioned which are raised on the studio’s flagpole every other month, mark the office out in the surrounding area. This is just one of many art commissions John Wardle Architects undertakes. “We encourage our clients to engage with commissioning artists and often undertake the commissioning process ourselves. It is quite a skill we have developed,” adds Wardle. “We often work throughout the process with the artists and fabricators.”
This is also carried through at the practice’s outpost on an island of Tasmania, where it has built two buildings around an old farmhouse it purchased more than a decade ago. “We use it as the antidote to our urban practice in Melbourne,” comments Wardle.
Staff members head out to the island for workshops about practice culture, materiality and process. They work with artists, carpenters, furniture makers, stone masons, and blacksmiths on a variety of projects from making bridges and stiles, to sun dials and bird observation platforms.
Last year in a further unusual move, the whole office was DNA tested and they have been analysing what came back over the past few months. The results are being used for talks and are being turned into an art commission. For Wardle it is all about a “constant quest to work against the pressures of conformity.”
Author: Kat Allenby, Global Head of Communications, Bespoke Careers