THOSE Architects, also known as ‘those Australian architects hitting goals overseas right now’, are exporting a raw – dare I say Australian – appeal to projects across the country and overseas.
Lead by Ben Mitchell and Simon Addinall, each venture from the practice exhibits a distinct step back, focusing on quality materials and craftsmanship. And when you’re designing sites to last, each building block is not only an element of aesthetic pleasure, it is the holdings of a structure greater than its uses.
THOSE is a firm cemented in its connection to the surrounding environment, with sustainability and reduced waste at the very core of all designs. Spaces are decidedly open-ended, ambiguous even, to allow for an organic interaction with and movement throughout each space.
For a vehemently client-based practice, this no-frills approach to design is crucial to allow for the needs and lifestyles of the occupant to be properly realised within their created spaces. Under this guise, the architect is not an isolated artist but rather an extension of the client’s own hand, offering the ability to physically create what was previously only conceptual.
We sat down with Ben Mitchell, project director and founder of THOSE Architects to learn more about the firm and what inspirations guide the team in creating their designs.
Tell us about your practice, where are you based? And do you have a signature style or ethos that you bring to your designs?
THOSE Architects’ head office is located in Sydney with a regional office in Byron Bay, undertaking work locally, nationally and internationally. We are particularly focused on design efficiency, meaning that we avoid being wasteful with space and materials. We’re interested in architecture as it relates to the user and don’t embellish our work with superfluous fashion.
What has been your favourite project to date?
Every project is different and offers reward if you look hard enough. The most challenging project we have undertaken to date, and therefore potentially the most rewarding, was the recently completed office for Ansarada (a maturing tech company) in Chicago. We managed to successfully deliver that project from the Sydney office with only periodic site visits.
What is your favourite aspect of your practice?
Meeting new people who want to engage with architecture. Every day offers something new and the potential to connect with like-minded people in the aim of creating architecture.
In your experience within the industry, have you noticed any shifts or changes to architecture and how people relate to architecture?
I think the biggest shift is that people are beginning to see real value in engaging an architect. I’m not entirely sure why this is but we are definitely seeing more clients coming to us, wanting to engage with architecture in a meaningful way.
How important to you is the relationship between architecture and interactivity? Do our spaces influence how we live, work and play?
Absolutely, the built environment has an enormous influence on the way we as a society live, work and play. Just add up the number of hours you spend in and around buildings per day. The quality of that built environment has a direct impact on the wellbeing of us as individuals and more broadly as a society.
Are there certain architects, periods of architecture or geographies that inspire your own designs?
I actually take most of my inspiration from the natural world. I grew up in the Blue Mountains surrounded by nature, so I am fascinated with the complexity and brilliance of that environment. As humans and as architects, I guess we are obsessed with how to make sense of, or impose order on, the natural world. And as such, I guess I respond in some way to the giant architects of the 20th century – Mies and the like.
How important to you is sustainability in architecture?
It is critical to be concerned with sustainability, not only as an architect but also as a global citizen. We have already exceeded the Earth’s carrying capacity and must endeavour to reduce our ecological footprint on an individual basis. That is the number one reason why we strive for efficiency in everything we do at THOSE.
Do you feel that mass media and social platforms are having an influence on the industry?
Yes. Platforms such as Instagram act as a direct conduit between the work we produce for existing clients and those who are looking to engage an architect. In this day and age, by the time a potential client picks up the phone to talk to you, they are more than likely to be familiar with your body of work, having been exposed to it through mass media.
How do you define architecture?
It is human endeavour – intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical – in built form for the sole purpose of being occupied by human beings.