Nic Brunsdon, Principal of the eponymous Perth and Denpasar architectural studio says his favourite projects are those when he gets to meet people from different places and cultures and the interchange of ideas that result. With current work in the Ukraine, Chile, Middle East, Europe, China and Southeast Asia it’s an approach that has certainly paid off. 

Brunsdon exudes energy in both his work and attitude to his craft. “There are so many learnings from around the world that we can bring back here” he says “you need to make the best of every opportunity you get given”.  Seeking adventure, a decade ago he headed off to Abu Dhabi where he worked in the design division of a large construction company. A return to teach at UWA whilst setting up his own practice was followed by a year in State Government as head of urban and design policies for the state. Now building his own brand and business, he is living proof that there is a lot to gain from thinking beyond your own immediate sphere of influence and the opportunities provided by cross fertilising experiences and ideas.  

His North Perth House project, shortlisted for this year’s INDE awards, is a perfect example of this method as Brunsdon looked to adjacent building industries and technologies to inform his approach. 

“The Client wanted a concrete house. They loved urban Japanese infill projects but there wasn’t the opportunity to do in situ poured concrete given the constraints of the time and budget so we considered commercial concrete techniques” he says. 

“We looked at pre fabricated concrete panel constructions and designed a lattice structure. Everything was made offsite and fitted together like a big jigsaw puzzle. The whole thing was erected in 48 hours”. The lattice design provides structural stability to the project and “the whole thing holds itself up” says Brunsdon. 

The use of timber in this project was as a response to the potential of the industrial technique and robustness of the concrete to overwhelm the design. “We needed some moments of high touch, of humanity, softness and warmth to align with a family residential situation” he says. American walnut was selected for the project for its “colour, patina, texture and energy. We didn’t want to go too light as that would have been overpowered by the concrete and too dark would have been claustrophobic. We wanted energy and something that was powerful enough in its own right and could hold its own against the concrete”. 

Fortunately, the chosen timber was readily available in Perth and Brunsdon and his Client were able to handpick from the warehouse of suppliers Worldwide Timber Traders.  The result is a stunning dwelling, a study in innovation and a lesson in the power of using lateral not logical thought to solve a design challenge.

More about Nic Brunsdon

Image credit: Ben Hosking