Our own Kieran Wong and Emma Williamson treated architects, students, graduates and CODA staff to an insightful and informative talk last Thursday 27 June. Presented by Merge, the talk took place in the CODA office and attracted a full crowd eager to hear about the current practice and beginnings of CODA.
MERGE, part of the national group EMAGN of the Australian Institute of Architects, seek to create a bridge between practice and study. They aim to assist members in establishing and developing an architectural career and do so by providing opportunities for networking through a range of events and talks open to students and professionals.
Talking on practice, rather than individual projects, provided the opportunity for Emma and Kieran to discuss the broader mission of CODA and what is was that motivated them as a practice, where they had come from and where they want to go as a business. They took the audience on a journey through the past 15 years of CODA, from their inception in 1997 as a multi-disciplinary group- the ‘Central Office of Design and Architecture’, which encompassed fashion, furniture, photography, design, architecture and interiors. This collaborative studio optimistically sought to find their place in Perth, with an intention to contribute to and help develop the design discipline within the emergent city through the overlapping of their own creative skills.
Taking prompts from a series of key words Kieran and Emma revealed the things they believe to be vital to the practice.
Be Joyful. Be generous. Be useful. Be stealthy.
These are not only reflective of the success and evolution of the practice but also help in creating an environment where we all enjoy working.
The presentation was relevant to both students and architects equally. It provided an insight into how CODA has developed, the lessons that may be learnt from establishing a practice as a graduate architect and the challenges and opportunities that come with a growing office. They discussed what it took to find their place in the Perth architecture scene as a firm that began to grow through a strong focus on residential architecture, to one that sought to contribute on a larger scale through the public realm. Still maintaining the sense of ‘collaborative-ness’ that was essential to the initial foundations of the studio, Emma and Kieran revealed that the need for engagement, attentiveness to research and creating a constructive office atmosphere were all key contributors to the success of the studio both as a business and a workplace.
Merge Talks on Practice are a valuable contribution to the Perth architecture scene in providing firms with the rare opportunity to reflect on their practices whilst offering valuable insights to students and fellow professionals. This sharing of stories, knowledge and information is important in maintaining strong connections within the architectural discipline and, true to the aims of MERGE, provides a platform from which the development of a network between architects, students and graduates shall grow.
Images courtesy of Frazer Macfarlane