Q: How have you seen Architecture respond or adapt to changing market conditions
(economic and/or demographic) in recent years, specifically within the various residential housing sectors?
A: For sure adaptable housing and assisted living both in the aging demographic and to a lesser extent for younger residents has increased. Technology for automated doors, blinds, benches and storage has become more common, operated via mobile phone apps. There has also been a strong trend to the 3 bedroom unit market.
Q: Who or what is specifically driving that change ... Developers, Architects, Financiers or is
it Consumers? How much of what we see in Architecture today is demand-led, or is it mostly supply-led?
A: These trends are all demand led by consumers. The market place, who it is and what they want is the key driver for developers to understand. The fundamental challenge remains the cost to construct and the market’s ability to pay and financial ability to value up to purchase price. A slowing economy and building sector may improve cost base but only marginally.
Q: Are you seeing developers search for a genuine, unique point of difference in design outcomes, or
are they merely making incremental, safe changes to what has been traditionally supplied?
A: Creating brand mystique and brand style remains a real opportunity to create a market, not try to fit into an evolving market. Delivery of lifestyle benefits which includes location, facilities, fit out and styling are the main devices.
Q: How do you see other residential-based markets evolving ... ‘over 55s’ lifestyle and retirement
villages, hotels and motels, student accommodation and the like ? Do you see any emerging, niche opportunities?
A: It will be interesting to see if Covid trends over 55’s to standalone product as opposed to the current downsize to apartment trend. Sales in low set, low maintenance, 2 car and caravan, no lawn houses has been significant and that product has seen the strongest price growth …… Covid? or empty nesters not ready for apartment living?
Q: How do you go about extracting a good, comprehensive Client brief, and how much effort is
dedicated in meeting project viability in that process? How do you see the process being improved?
A: Being a former builder and generally with an experienced developer client base we reverse engineer our designs first from yield analysis sketches. Formulating a feasibility and concept design informs the client’s reverse brief by allowing consultants (in particular the QS and planner) to provide input to make project realisation successful.
Q: In recent years, Architecture has fragmented, with many parts of what were traditional
services being carried out by niche, specialist firms (Town Planning, Interior Design, Drafting, Visualisation and
Project Management). Do you see this trend reversing any time soon?
A: No, I think we are best to stick to what we are good at. We are used to working in consultant team environments as Architects. As Lead Consultant we have a fair bit of control directing the team, maintaining the vision and benefiting from specialist skills.
Q: How do you think Architecture should be judged by your Clients, and your peers? What are the
metrics of success?
A: There is no excuse for ugly buildings, cheap does not need to be unattractive. Unattractive is either a lack of skill or care. Buildings should be attractive (but of course that is subjective) but they must be successful financially and functionally.
About Author: Michael is a Director of Think Tank Architects, a Brisbane based practice specialising in the multi-residential market of apartments, retirement aged care, assisted living & resort. Projects range from small premium boutique apartments to 300 & 400 multi-tower residential precinct projects, with a strong focus on the LHA, SDA & AS1428.2 assisted living design knowledge.