After school, I embarked on a science degree but without an obvious career in sight, I fell back on my childhood passion for drawing buildings, and ended up by way of a drafting diploma, on exchange studying architecture tectonics and construction in Denmark. I was hooked, and on return to Australia I dived into architecture and construction management degrees.
While studying, I worked for a residential architect specialising in extensions to heritage homes. Although this job often involved crawling around ceilings and subfloors with a torch and tape measure, I learnt to value the resourcefulness, ingenuity and experimentation (exasperation?) required to turn constraints into positive sources of inspiration.
Later, as an undergraduate architect I was a site-based coordinator for an international architectural practice delivering a major office development alongside a national contractor. With a shortage of time, success was to be achieved by being thick skinned, straight to the point, and managing expectations by trying to under-promise and over-deliver.
My first key construction role was as a design manager, transforming a former maternity hospital into what remains arguably Australia’s finest residential apartment building. The adaptation of the superstructure combined with the scale and luxury of the development presented so many challenges, finding creative solutions ‘became business as usual’, however unorthodox.
Fast forward a decade, and I continue to find that the best solutions are found through willingness to share risk and effort for a common cause. Five minutes simply talking face to face with an engineer, subcontractor or supplier invariably avoids metres of emails and days of increasing antagonism. Giving credit where it’s due also ensures you can do it all again tomorrow.
I’ve been privileged to work on some of Melbourne’s most iconic and complex residential, civic and commercial developments – bringing me into contact with amazingly talented, driven and creative people from all sorts of disciplines and backgrounds. The more a person is willing to share knowledge and collaborate, the more certain you can be that they’re worth listening to (the opposite, unfortunately, is equally true).
In the last few years it became increasingly clear that with the increasing professionalisation of the industry, a generational change was afoot. There has been a pervasive move from conventional and transactional contracting toward collaborative and negotiated pathways. Rather than fight over a small slice of the pie, why not make the pie bigger?
Organisations that foster transparency, accountability and innovation are now rapidly superseding those that harbour contractual and adversarial ways of conducting themselves. Not surprisingly, this contemporary approach means that in the course developing a relationship for one purpose, myriad opportunities and new relationships are revealed.
I feel that Property Collectives is reflective of this new approach, and we are challenging ourselves to be authentic about ensuring our relationships with financiers, consultants, suppliers and contractors are integrated into the model, and therefore prioritising relationships and value over cost and expediency.
We are continually seeking supply chain partners that are environmentally and socially sustainable, who proactively want to contribute positively to creating homes that will age gracefully for many generations and stand as a positive legacy for all those that participated in their creation.
I look forward to supporting our current and future Property Collectives and collecting many new friends and collaborators along the way. Certainly, we’ll find some problems to solve together.