“I’m inspired by nature. It holds the keys to perpetuate interesting designs.”
DIVNA ODRLIJN ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR REGISTERED ARCHITECT (AUS) (NSW) divnao@ignitearchitects.com

It’s important to understand all aspects of architecture.

From marketing, to the financial viability of a design, to construction and engineering opportunities - there is so much more to being an architect than just drawing pretty pictures.    

I got my first taste of design and construction at the ripe age of seven, seeing our family home being built. I watched it all - everything from clearing the site, to foundations being poured, slabs going in, walls going up, and the building coming together.   

With Dad being in the industry, school holidays didn’t exist. My brother and I would regularly get dragged to work with him. To this day, the smell of a building site brings back early memories.  

I spent my formative student years based in a large architectural practice, but it wasn’t until I worked for a few smaller firms that I found my feet. Over the years I have worked with some brilliant architects who have afforded me the opportunity to gain experience on various project typologies, including commercial, retail, residential, hospitality, hotel, industrial, educational and government.  

During the course of my career, I have undertaken refurbishments and new builds alike, and find both types carry their own complexities. It’s always interesting to see just how many ways a detail can be resolved. I have seen most of my projects through from design to construction, including project management, with handover to the client.   

I’m inspired by nature. It holds the keys to perpetuate interesting designs. I am also inspired by the level of innovation within our profession and keen to contribute to the built environment for the benefit of all.  

I believe excellent design is multi-faceted. It relies on an understanding of the site, both spoken and unspoken briefs, and the ability to inspire and work with the client to develop and realise a vision. Whether it is a greenfield site or an existing run-down building, each project has potential.

Be it tabling design ideas with the client, or resolving details with the consultants and documentation team, the capacity to interact and communicate with people on each project is important. Being able to ascertain actual deliverables based on a client’s budget is also key to understanding a project's limitations.