Part of the Bijl Architecture team since 2012, Andrew Lee recently passed his Architects Registration Board exam and is now a fully qualified architect in NSW. We speak to him about his approach to architecture.
What is your role at Bijl Architecture?
When were you first inspired to become an architect?
I have always wanted to be a designer – originally I wanted to be a car designer but then found out that you had to understand how a car worked and I wasn’t interested in that (I think I was only 10). Little did I know then that I would become an architect and you need to know how everything works! I chose to do my work experience in a product design company for two weeks in high school and loved the entire process of design documentation and then seeing the final product take shape, it amazed me to see the thing that I had drawn take shape in real life – and work! I started my university applications to do product design but I attended a university open day with a friend and loved the course description for architecture. My first university lecture was inside Lincoln Cathedral and the scale and detail of it blew me away.
How has your experience of architecture changed since moving to Australia?
The biggest change is the impact of the sun, not just because South is now North, but the way we deal with its impact on our homes and other buildings. I love the way that residential architecture in Australia opens up and welcomes the outdoors in. Working in Sydney's lower north shore and northern beaches we get to work on some pretty extreme landscapes and sites, and this makes for great opportunities in design and detailing.
What’s more important – the big idea or the devil in the detail?
Both! Anyone who has worked with me knows I love the big idea… or any idea! However, in my time at Bijl I have learnt the importance of detail, it’s what makes us good architects. We don’t just look at the big picture, we look at the detail, of how people live, how people use the space, how everything connects and works. Can we improve it? Or come up with something clever that will make it work better?
How would you describe your approach to working with clients at Bijl?
My approach is generally to listen to the clients, help them define and understand their brief and what they want to achieve. I do my best to engage them in an exciting and creative design development process. I like creating flexibility in spaces and try to educate clients that more floor space does not necessarily mean better space!
Congratulations on recently being registered as an architect in NSW – any advice for others considering registration?
Thanks! :-) Do it when you are ready and if possible when you have some experience, it’s not a race. It can be incredibly daunting and there is so much knowledge that is better learnt through experience than through reading. Do the PAL’s course, it’s not just for exam prep it’s a great stop-gap between the completion of your university education and the realities of working in a practice. When you are ready, and you are able to submit your logbook, do it, commit to it fully and be confident.