“I started drawing at age three, Disney and Marvel characters mainly – I still have the scrapbook.”
LEONG KHOO ASSOCIATE REGISTERED ARCHITECT (NZ) leongk@ignitearchitects.com

I have a lot of fun in my job – that’s because architecture is my passion, and passion and fun go together.

I started drawing at age three, Disney and Marvel characters mainly – I still have the scrapbook. By age 12 I was fascinated with buildings and I knew I wanted to be an architect.

I’m originally from Malaysia, but I moved to Auckland in my twenties and studied here. Soon after graduating I went back to Malaysia to work for a large architectural firm. After a few years I set up my own practice, but I wasn’t satisfied with the lack of control architects have over the building process in Malaysia. That led me to start my own construction and interior design companies. I had them for eight years and, in that time, learnt the A to Z of the whole design and construction process.

I think team work is what makes architecture tick. The most memorable projects for me are the ones where there’s a team spirit – they’re the ones where you go through a journey together, embracing the design process.

Creating a good design is not just about taking a pen and drawing something amazing. There are a lot of other factors to consider – from the sustainability aspect to the client’s budget. Collaboration between consultant, contractor and client is key. The more dialogue we have with the client, the better. We need to understand where they are coming from and what they are looking for.

I’m inspired by conservation. Our heritage buildings remind us of where we’ve come from – if we lose them, we lose part of our heritage.

My favourite pastime is building airplane models. I’ve built about 300 model planes and ships, and I’ve got about 6,000 more still in boxes. If find that a lot of the processes involved in model building are the same as those we use for architectural projects – you start out designing and drawing the concept and then carry it through to completion.