I guess you could say my career started at age 12...
…that was when I joined the local Scout troop and earned a badge for architecture. A good friend of the family was an architect, so I was able to gain work experience with him while I was still at school, too. I studied architecture at university in Dublin, and after graduating I worked in Spain, Germany and Ireland before moving to New Zealand.
On a day-to-day basis, I’m involved in areas of Ignite’s front-end design work. I really enjoy master planning at any scale – from figuring out how large groups of people might occupy an area, to successfully anticipating the requirements of a single family within the privacy of their own home. It’s very rewarding.
The time I spent working in Germany really influenced the way I go about my work. Over there, most public work is won through design competitions, which is a very different approach to how we win work in New Zealand. Competing for work in that way has taught me to consider each design problem in a very logical way, right from the start.
I think that to create a clear and meaningful design, you have to have an excellent understanding of the brief and of the site. I think, as designers, we should start by gaining a thorough understanding of the site conditions, interpreting the brief and testing that the concept will work for your client.
I like to think that I can form almost a friendship with our clients. That approach doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly the kind of relationship I aim to have because it helps me to understand each client’s particular needs.
I’m very excited about residential design in New Zealand. There are some great small-scale, high-density developments in and around Auckland, and throughout the country. I see these as very good examples that stand up well against others around the world.
I’m very interested in languages and can speak German and Spanish. I enjoy answering my kids’ questions in another language – they get a real kick out of it and seem to want to understand more.