Hear from Michael Banney founding director of M3 Architecture who will speak at the second lecture of the 2018 UQ Architecture lecture series.

Like his projects, Michael’s approach to practice draws from unexpected sources. In his Circumstantial Aspects of Arson 1955 William H Hopper provides tips for young prosecutors…

We must always look for both the usual and the unusual. And as we pick up the individual strands of circumstances, and weave them into our rope of evidence, we should check each strand for its strength. We want to weave a pattern around the defendant, such that they will have the utter feeling of hopelessness. It is not easy to fashion a circumstantial case of arson. Circumstances are part and parcel of every facet of life, including an arson investigation, and we should strive to know, understand and utilize the circumstances which will furnish evidence of probative value…

For Michael, this is equally a handbook for architectural practice – building up cases for projects based on anecdotal evidence – anecdotes that corroborate one another and reveal a conviction for a project around which architecture can be formed.

Collectively, the projects of m3architecture confirm its practice conviction based on managed multiplicity, that has now produced almost two decades of interesting work.

Michael will speak on Tuesday 20 March. Find out what principles inform his work and where he goes for design inspiration…

Can you tell us about your background and what led you into architecture?

Back in the mid 1980s in the same way that if you got 990 (Tertiary Entrance score) you did medicine, if you could draw you did architecture – at least that’s what I thought. I could draw, and I did – lots. But for some strange reason I put Vet Science first, and Architecture second on my QTAC form – I didn’t get into Vet, but I did get into Architecture.

Perhaps because of that inauspicious start, as an undergraduate I was a very ordinary student of architecture – unenthused and inattentive – that is, until the end. By then I was addicted – and I took to the last two years with the enthusiasm of a mature age student. By the time I graduated my enthusiasm was infectious.

More than anything, I enjoyed grappling with culture and technics – working at the confluence of the two and finding IDEAS. I would find the surfacing of ideas quite magical and that is something I still find tantalizing and greatly rewarding.

What principles inform your work?

From the beginning of our practice, now almost 20 years ago, we have believed that each and every project should be radically different, one from the next. We see this as perfectly logical – different site, different client and all of that. Most architects would say or believe this to varying extents. But for us it is fundamental, and it’s something we go into very deeply. Someone once said if there is an interesting project and you can’t figure out who did it, then it was probably m3architecture. This requires us to hold back and allow the character of a project to reveal itself to us, and this approach pre-supposes an entire working methodology.

In what way do you think your work responds to the lecture series theme ‘in-terre-vention’? 

The theme infers the relationship between a pre-existing condition and an intervention. For us this is a precious topic and it raises a few questions particularly about the role of idiosyncrasy. How does the idiosyncrasy of the condition and that of the architect come together? Is it possible for the condition to be idiosyncratic and the architect to be meta-idiosyncratic? It is possible to give something to someone that is already theirs, something they never realized they had, or that they had forgotten about, or overlooked as it had not been seen in a certain way, or taken for granted. Finding the best in another is a beautiful basis for architecture.

Where do you find design inspiration?

I am inspired by realities stranger than fiction. On the surface most things look or sound or feel predictable. By asking the next question, reading the next chapter, leaning in and listening more intently, we find inspiration in the richness and complexity of our individual and collective contemporary situations – and that’s where we find IDEAS.

What are your top three favourite design books?

Dictionary of Imaginary Places – Alberto Manguel

Australia’s Own Compact Macquarie Dictionary – Arthur Delbridge and JRL Bernard

Anecdotal Evidence – Michael Banney

Photo credit:
Image 1: Michael Banney
Image 2: The Research Learning Centre at Brisbane Girls Grammar School, designed by M3architecture. Photo by: Christopher Frederick Jones.
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