AS SOON AS I UNDERSTOOD WHAT AN ARCHITECT WAS, THAT’S WHAT I WANTED TO BE.
I’ve always liked creating things. Growing up on a farm, I was always building huts from spare timber and corrugated iron. It was probably inevitable I’d end up doing a degree in architecture.
During a first-year university lecture, my eyes were opened to the potential for architecture to impact people’s lives. The lecturer took us through Charles Garnier’s Paris Opera House, evoking the pageantry, ceremony and emotional response a great building provides.
Later, on a trip to Hong Kong as an intern, I was captivated by the HSBC building by Foster + Partners. It’s such an austere and highly technical building, but the architects incorporated an active public space at the base. I was fascinated by the way corporate and civic spaces could interact and enrich the public realm.
The project I am most proud of was my first commission, which was a complex renovation on a steep Wellington hillside. I had to detail everything from scratch and figure out how to install the structure via helicopter. What I'm most proud of is not the finished building, which is beautiful, but the collaborative process involving the client, consultants and contractor.
The commitment to process, trust and openness learned on this project has stayed with me, and is at the core of my approach to design.