HEAR FROM Jeremy McLeod OF Breathe Architecture AT THE third SESSION OF THE 2017 UQ ARCHITECTURE LECTURE SERIES.
Jeremy is the founding Director of Breathe Architecture, a team of dedicated architects that have built a reputation for delivering high quality design and sustainable architecture for all scale projects. Breathe Architecture has been focusing on sustainable urbanisation and in particular have been investigating how to deliver more affordable urban housing to Melbournians. Breathe were the instigators of The Commons housing project in Brunswick and are collaborating with other Melbourne architects to deliver the Nightingale Model. Nightingale is intended to be an open source-housing model led by architects. Jeremy believes that architects, through collaboration, can drive real positive change.
Read our Q+A with Jeremy:
Tell us a little about your background, and what originally led you to architecture?
Undergraduate studies in Environmental Design
Give us a little insight into what a normal work day looks like for you…
Meeting with the ever talented, ever-diligent, ever-inspiring Breathe crew to bring ideas and design opportunity into existence. Meeting with Nightingale Housing architects, residents, sponsors, shareholders, bankers, local councillors or government ministers trying to find ways to make quality housing better, more affordable and more accessible. Running feasibility studies. Attending council meetings to advocate for a dead-end street to be turned into a park, for the support of car share schemes in our cities or for a quality project by a Nightingale Architect to be supported.
What are some daily office rituals or habits you employ to enhance your productivity and creativity?
Architects at Breathe do not answer emails or take phone calls before 1:00pm. The mornings are sacred. This is the time for design, for consideration, for deep thinking, for doing the work of the architect.
We surrender the afternoons to endless emails and phone calls. We start work at 9:00 am. We try to always finish at 6:00pm. We stop for lunch. We value our lives outside of the studio. If we have to work back we are paid overtime or given time in lieu. We take one day off a month as a “mental health day”. We value our time. We value what we bring to the table. We think about our work as architects as city makers, as place makers not as illustrators. We aspire to be the motto over Lola’s desk “work smarter not harder”. We always try to make a difference, to have purpose and to do no harm.
What principles inform your work?
Sustainability and equality.
Ethic before aesthetic.
Build less, give more.
Where do you go for design inspiration?
To the forest or to the ocean, to clear my mind. To Kevin Mark Low’s book, Small Projects. And sometimes I visit cities like Barcelona in my mind to remind me that the city is an organism, it works as a beautiful perfect whole with many imperfect parts.
What has been a career highlight for you so far?
Seeing Nightingale projects spreading through the Australian architecture community.
Which Australian or international architecture people, practices, designers or similar do you admire?
Antonio Gaudi; Jan Gehl; Kevin Mark Low; Joe Nero; Paul Pholeros; Robin Boyd; Six Degrees; and Austin Maynard.
What are your top five favourite design books?
Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser
The Good Life by Hugh Mackay
Small Projects by Kevin Low
Self Made City by Kristien Ring
Ethics in the Real World by Peter Singer
What can attendees to UQ Architecture lecture series expect to hear and see?
Nightingale is an attempt to rebalance the scales, to take the keys of the city back from those who should never had them in the first place.
It is an architect-led revolution that propagates triple bottom line medium density housing that is sustainable, liveable, and community focussed.
Quality and well-designed housing is critical to securing individual and collective well-being, economic progress and ultimately social prosperity in urban environments.
We seek to create a world in which housing in contemporary urban environments is built to support well-being, community and liveability.
We use a deliberative development model where the future residents have agency in decision-making. For too long our cities have developed based on financial interest rather than human well-being.