Anton Kouzmin
Feature Interview
Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia

Words Cassie Vicente
Photography Pablo Viega & Katherine Lu

“I ask questions. I rely on an instinct, a gut feeling which I balance against a measured, evidence based approach and work backwards and forwards to develop the idea at the heart of a project.”

This exceptional level of design intuition and sophistication can only be developed through years of diverse experience and a rigorous commitment to an empathetic, people-centred design.

Anton Kouzmin Architecture is making a statement in the Sydney architecture realm, establishing his socially responsible design approach, balanced with a poetic expression in creative problem solving.

Kouzmin has taken a plethora of valuable experience, from his role as a Practice Director at BVN, through to consultancy roles in numerous Olympic Games organising and bid committees, to establish his own thriving practice.

At its core, Kouzmin’s practice is unwavering to the commitment of a human centric architecture. This people-first focus permeates all aspects of their work, from the considered premise of a concept design, through to the tectonic details and constructed moments within the architecture.

“You need to draw on the fundamental aspects of being human; weaving together things like access to daylight, fresh air, landscape and atmosphere with architectural qualities of space, form, colour, tactility plus social values such as community, history and shared memory along with the practical requirements of the site and the brief.”

London Athletes Village – Project undertaken at BVN with Patel Taylor Architects – Photography Peter Cook and James Grose

Another distinctive characteristic of Anton’s work, is his faithfulness to the idea that design thinking benefits not only the making of buildings and the built environment, but is a way of designing governance and bringing people together as a catalyst for managing change; for the client and public alike. There is a refined skill in mediating the public and private aspects of a project which serve to benefit both sides.

“I am a strong believer in the idea that everything we create in the built environment needs to contribute to the public benefit, never at the expense of your client but a balance, an accord must be struck. A narrative develops from an understanding of the site and the client, however, as our cities grow denser and our environment changes we need to be clever about how we engage with each other, balancing the private and public good and the environment in meaningful, responsible and understandable ways.”

Sydney has seen the practice’s innovative approach through it’s careful adaption of heritage houses. It goes without saying that projects of this nature require imaginative solutions, and Anton Kouzmin Architecture continually rises to the challenge in producing solutions that improve the current environment. Kouzmin’s completed work, House of Green Gables, is a testament to the practice’s idealist design ethic.

“The green roof reflected a playful aspect of the client’s desire for the project which also works within its Victorian era character as a gabled roof form to provide a very contemporary public benefit, in our own little way. The benefit is one of repair, of the ecology of the site and of wellbeing for the owners and their neighbours. We took two almost opposing objectives of City of Sydney planning policy; that of retaining the heritage character of the terrace row and that of reducing the urban heat island effect and stitched them together to form this gorgeous little roof garden. The butterflies arrived a day after installation and everyone was happy.”

Much of Anton Kouzmin Architecture’s design approach is telling of an underlying conceptual narrative and idea that is clear in the finished work; exposing a meticulous design process undertaken to arrive at a proposed solution. Every aspect of his design intentions are detailed through diagrammatic expression which describe people-first compositions. Kouzmin explains:

“I like to work back and forth between the big picture and the smaller details. It’s an iterative process of testing ideas, engaging stakeholders and pushing and pulling at the scheme to arrive at something that is human centric and instinctively and imperially feels right.”

There is an added richness to his work in enabling external creative disciplines to influence his design process. Kouzmin details his experience in working closely with a well known theatre lighting designer to skilfully manipulate natural and artificial light in a past project. Furthermore, there is an extension of the narrative focus, through the engagement of art practice.

“ I am interested in narrative as a way of establishing a premise and bringing a sense of order to architecture. I enjoy the art and practice of photography which provides a way to deal with subject focus, composition and balance.”

Anton Kouzmin Architecture is a practice which models the process of design thinking in the making of anthropocentric environments. There is a balanced narrative of problem solving, innovation and people focused design enlaced throughout their projects. The completed and proposed works of the practice are indicative of an inclusive design approach which benefits our natural, built and social environment.

Sydney Olympic Games – Project undertaken at BVN – Photography John Gollings

Published 18 October, 2017
Photography  Pablo Viega & Katherine Lu
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