Business Central August 2022

84 | A strong voice for a better ‘built landscape’ This small art studio has been shortlisted for the Wellington region NZIA Awards, Small Projects section. ARCHITECTURE ADNZ: Aspect Architecture Sue Russell Often it’s the case that the road less travelled brings the greatest rewards and a good example of this can be seen in Victoria Read’s journey into operating her successful Wairarapa-based architecture practice – Aspect Architecture. She shared her story of how she became an architect recently with Business Central. “I was not allowed to take Art as a subject at secondary school, instead was made to take French and Latin. I remember enjoying maths and science,” Victoria recalls. When she left school Victoria was not able to study architecture straight away, so she completed a Commerce and Tourism degree and worked in advertising. “Each day I would walk past an architecture firm and say to myself ‘I really wish I was walking through that door.’ ” Thus began her quest to enter the profession in earnest by first attending Victoria University lectures during her lunch-time. She fell in love with the idea of being a designer of buildings. Completing two papers in that first year, just to see if she could cope with the study, confirmed her belief that she was on the right track toward realising her ambition. When she was accepted into the degree programme Victoria didn’t have to do the first year as she had already attained a degree. “Normally the University accepts about 300 students into their first year and then select about 50 to continue on. In my case, I had to attend an interview to prove I was worthy of consideration into the second year.” Architecture is a five year training, under and post-graduate to enable eventual registration as an architect, a pathway that takes a further two years. Victoria completed her university training with a Bachelor of Architecture (Hons). During the two years a graduate architect then has to be working in the profession and have work signed-off and complete a professional registration process. “It’s quite nerve-racking, the whole process when I think back.” Because Victoria lived in Wairarapa, it was necessary to commute to Wellington for her education and once qualified, established her own business in Martinborough. All this was many years ago and today, with colleagues and fellow designers Katie Gunn and Jake Goodger, Victoria leads the successful Wairarapa architecture practice. “Three is a perfect number in my view. Katie and Jake are so competent and it is just a nice size practice.” Asked how business has been these past couple of years Victoria says demand for their services has been very high, however when Covid first hit every single client bar one put projects on hold. Fortunately this didn’t last with clients quickly realising they could keep working during the pandemic. Victoria thinks some benefits have arisen from the Covid pandemic experience. People generally have learnt to be more flexible, patient and more creative. A lot of Aspect Architecture’s clients are now people moving to the area to enjoy a more relaxed rural lifestyle outside the city. Meanwhile, the practice continues to reap awards. This year a small art studio, designed by Katie, made the shortlist for the Wellington region NZIA Awards, Small Projects section. “Even though the idea of an art studio sounds simple to design, in fact there are a lot of considerations and elements that inform the design process,” says Victoria. First, with the activity that will take place inside, careful thought needed to be given to light quality. It also needs all the necessary practical design features so it can be a good place to work in but beyond that, Victoria says, there was a wish to create an uplifting experience for the artist. “Our client wanted the building to reflect the rural environment it is located in. To be in sympathy with its surrounds. Now it is completed our client tells us she absolutely loves working in the studio.” Victoria says she was thrilled that Katie’s design work was recognised with the shortlisting, against high standard competition. She also feels that there’s a definite shift happening, particularly in home design, away from large footprint homes to smaller, more intentional house design, taking into consideration sustainability, the environment and the values in life that really matter. “People tended to think they needed more space than they do, but if a home’s design is carefully crafted out of understanding how people live inside, then a smaller home can often achieve the best outcomes.” Victoria has long been an advocate for better architecture and urban design outcomes in her community. She believes architects need to share their skills and ideas more with community leadership in order to help their communities become better places to live. “We have a lot of knowledge to help our built landscape improve and we shouldn’t be scared to get up and share our insights with the community.” Architecturally Designed Windows and Doors We provide premium quality joinery that is custommade to suit all aspects of the demanding New Zealand environment. Our experienced team services the Wairarapa and Wellington area and is dedicated to finding the best solution for your requirements. Phone (06) 304 9441 | 14 Bidwills Cutting Road, Greytown Victoria Read