Driven by Curiosity – Mel Bright of Studio Bright
Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Photography Sean Fennessey, Peter Bennetts & Rory Gardiner
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Issue 05 Cover Grey
FEATURED IN THE LOCAL PROJECT PUBLICATION - ISSUE 05
The Local Project print publication was created to inspire, inform, entertain and engage through exclusively curated content.
Issue Nº5 of The Local Project print publication is the largest to date, with over 380 pages of local architecture and design. As well as new work from the likes of Kennedy Nolan, Edition Office, Tobias Partners, Adam Kane Architects and more, Issue 05 includes Gottlieb House, one of Wood Marsh Architecture’s first residential commissions, completed 30 years ago and unchanged to this day. Kew Residence by John Wardle Architects is also found in this issue. As the home John Wardle has occupied since 1990 and renovated three times, the project is a profound insight into the personal and professional history of one of Melbourne’s most lauded architects.
Driven By Curiosity – Mel Bright Of Studio Bright Issue 05 Feature The Local Project Image 01

Driven by a curiosity to probe the limits of spatial relationships and contribute to the bigger picture of society at large, Studio Bright’swork is grounded on principles of experimentation, enrichment and exploration. Led by founder Mel Bright, the studio’s ambitions are to respond to the changing needs of cities and to take an active role in shaping our futures.

Mel Bright always knew her future lay in affecting outward change, and an early interest in creative and rational challenges and solutions cemented her pathway. Constantly curious, her balanced fascination with combining the handmade and crafted with larger scale placemaking and detail has seen her practice continue to flourish and expand with each new iteration and interpretation of space as it unfolds. Based in Melbourne, Studio Bright is founded on principles of connection, where both individuals and communities are viewed through the same rigorous lens, with the intent to bring joy and enrichment through architecture. Mel explains, “we think that even the smallest acts of architecture have the capacity for generosity. Activating a threshold, an edge, or the meeting of inside and out, our architecture seeks to connect rather than exclude. We aim to make genuine contributions to people, to their lives, and to the fabric of the city.”

With a portfolio spanning residential, educational, civic and multi-residential architecture, in each case, Mel believes, there is an opportunity to affect change and improve lives. In describing her attraction to design, she says,“architecture has an ability to make a significant contribution to our cities and the way people live. I love the balance between the poetic and the functional and, as a result, my day is full of such varying tasks and scales of thought. On one end of the scale, you need to keep the rainout, at the other, we want to create something that gives delight – light, space and poetry.”

Having lived abroad, Mel refers to her time studying as integral to how she approaches her work. She explains, “I was lucky to attend MIT in the era when diverse approaches to architecture were being explored. I have lived and worked in the UK, South East Asia, China, Europe and the US, and have been able to experience different cities and cultures – always coming back to the city I love(Melbourne), and where I am now firmly embedded.” After considering alternate careers in the fields of industrial design and graphics, her decision to study architecture was swayed, she says, “because I felt like there was more opportunity to make a difference through architecture.”

“We aim to make genuine contributions to people, to their lives, and to the fabric of the city.”

Finding inspiration in far-reaching places, Meldraws fondly from exploration through travel, old cities, art, and landscaped worlds and finds opportunities to weave historical layers into the studio’s work. She explains, “we enjoy the challenge of adding new sympathetic contemporary buildings within a rich and diverse context. We love working carefully within a site context and think, where possible, good quality housing stock should be refurbished and retained.” Committed to building the social fabric as well as the physical one, Studio Bright’s design embodies an optimism and a focus on fulfilling human needs. Mel adds, “while the scale of our projects might shift, each is bound by a sense of craft and considered detail. Often, it’s here, where the bigger stories lie. At the most primary level, Studio Bright makes spaces. But we’re about much more than that—we’re about connecting individuals and communities.”

In discussing the role of the architect and her initial attraction to the profession, Mel believes there is further growth to be made. “For our cities to become more sustainable, they need to work harder for us. Increased density but not at the cost of good design and public space –architects are well equipped to balance these competing needs. Private projects must be considered with public interest,” she says.

Based in Melbourne, Studio Bright is founded on principles of connection, where both individuals and communities are viewed through the same rigorous lens, with the intent to bring joy and enrichment through architecture.

As a studio, Mel and her colleagues are committed to ensuring these base principles extend to encompass social and cultural realms. She adds, “for us, good architecture does not stop at the edge of a building. Design work needs to extend to include landscape, the whole site and even the street and city beyond.” The optimism in this expanded philosophy of the effect architecture can have on our cities is reflected in each of Studio Bright’s projects. As Mel says, “it would be great to see our cities working hard to support increased close habitation without compromising on amenity and green space. More amenity in less space.”

Published 16 March, 2021
Photography  Sean Fennessey, Peter Bennetts & Rory Gardiner
Issue 05 Cover Grey
FEATURED IN THE LOCAL PROJECT PUBLICATION - ISSUE 05
The Local Project print publication was created to inspire, inform, entertain and engage through exclusively curated content.
Issue Nº5 of The Local Project print publication is the largest to date, with over 380 pages of local architecture and design. As well as new work from the likes of Kennedy Nolan, Edition Office, Tobias Partners, Adam Kane Architects and more, Issue 05 includes Gottlieb House, one of Wood Marsh Architecture’s first residential commissions, completed 30 years ago and unchanged to this day. Kew Residence by John Wardle Architects is also found in this issue. As the home John Wardle has occupied since 1990 and renovated three times, the project is a profound insight into the personal and professional history of one of Melbourne’s most lauded architects.
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