Get to Know: Caroline Bartlett




Caroline Bartlett



August 18, 2023

Caroline Bartlett has been a dedicated member of the Ignite team since 2010. Recently appointed as Associate Director, Caroline is experienced across a broad range of projects including retail, educational and civic spaces, remedial work and healthcare developments. Get to know a little more about Caroline below.

Get to Know: Caroline Bartlett

What first motivated you to start a career in Architecture?

Growing up I was deciding between being a vet or an architect. In the end, I chose architecture because it seemed to resonate more with my creative side – I was always building with Lego and enjoyed sketching and photography. I felt like I could absorb spaces even as a child. Ultimately architecture felt intriguing and most natural to me.

What inspires you as a designer?

Travel always gets my inspirational juices flowing. Even the lead up to a trip –researching areas, cultures, activities and sites to visit, is all part of the journey.  To me, travel is about expanding my understanding, design inspiration, and challenging my ideas.  I’m currently planning a trip this year to Europe for my sister’s wedding in Portugal, it is so great to have something to look forward to after a challenging couple of years!

Tell us about something exciting you’re working on at the moment.

I’m currently working on the Auckland Art Gallery Kia Whakahou. It’s technically challenging as we are working with historic building fabric, traditional building techniques and materials such as slate roofing, native timber, and traditional render. It’s incredibly rewarding to be breathing fresh life into it, so it can be there for future generations to enjoy.

Another great project I’m involved with is a community centre in Matamata for a local trust. Extending on their existing centre, the project is creating more space for them to meet, collaborate and reconnect, particularly after Covid. Their passion for the centre is truly uplifting.

Adaptive reuse can be initially very challenging, balancing respect for a heritage building, whilst adapting to today’s stringent code requirements – but the results are often incredible.

You’ve recently been appointed as Associate Director –Congrats! What are you hoping to achieve with this role?

I want to give back to the studio. I’m fortunate to have worked alongside inspiring individuals, who have been generous with their time and wisdom. I hope I can cycle that experience and inspiration to the people I’m now supporting.

As part of my new role, I’m enjoying fostering our existing client relationships, along with building new ones. We have so many diverse clients out there wanting to deliver for the community, which is amazing to be a part of and help deliver.


What attracts you to the concept of adaptive reuse - Are you seeing growth in this area?

I’m seeing adaptive reuse appearing more as a consideration in design briefs. Not just adapting current buildings, but designing new buildings with future reuse in mind, planning how the space will grow and evolve.

Sustainability is a key driver of this - and not just in the construction phase, we need to ensure they aren’t going to be a burden and cost a lot to run. I’m seeing deeper analysis around negating carbon footprints, as well as flexibility for variations of use in the future.


Tell us about your involvement with Architecture & Women NZ

I co-lead the sponsorship role at A+W NZ with Melanie Bourke. It’s been amazing to build connections with other women in the industry and help provide financial support to the organisation. We’ve held some exciting events, with recent ones including the book launch of Making Space by Elizabeth Cox. The book spans the course of a century, telling the stories of remarkable female architects in NZ.

I also started A+W NZ’s Care | Work Series, which aims to offer a rich resource of curated stories on people balancing their careers and commitments outside of work. It’s important to not feel alone and be able to discuss options and support available.


You’ve previously led Ignite’s graduate programme – what advice would you give to graduates?

The graduate programme was started by my colleague Shara, which I helped to lead for some time. My advice would be to keep connecting with peers, in and outside of your organisation, to hear other experiences and different ways of approaching challenges. It’s the best way to build a support network –with shared knowledge. Don’t let mistakes set you back. We are human beings and we all started in the same position. Use mistakes as a learning opportunity, to build character and expand your knowledge  - it will make you a better architect in the long term.

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