Simone Robeson of Perth’s Robeson Architects is our sixth speaker for the 2018 UQ Architecture lecture series.
Simone is the Director of Robeson Architects, an intentionally little company focusing on residential architecture, interiors and commercial fit-outs. With experience working in both Perth and London at larger practices, Simone started the business when she was 27, keen to work on her own residential projects and run them in an efficient way. Simone designs and is involved in every project. She is passionate about the development of cities, modern lifestyles and flexibility related to housing. The Triangle House helped put the practice on the map, with the award winning project attracting considerable attention due to its bold forms and how it demonstrates that small, odd parcels of land can be affordably developed into highly functional dwellings. The practices work has been widely published internationally and locally and featured on multiple Australian television programs.
Find out more about Simone and how she will respond to the lecture series theme ‘in-terre-vention’…
Tell us a little about your background, and what originally led you to architecture?
It started very young and it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do; to draw houses! In Year 5 my best friend and I created “Simone and Christine’s Architectural Company” where I used to draw house plans and she would colour them in. As a kid, I would ask family members how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc. they wanted in their new dream home, and then go away and draw them a floor plan. Nutting out floor plans and spatial planning is still what excites me most now, as it turns out. Also driving around with my parents on weekends looking at houses, I used to sit in the back and draw the facades of display homes. I sped through university in five years (yes that’s fast for this course!) and got my first job with a medium sized commercial based firm. I requested to be involved with projects during construction; the “construction administration” stage. I always knew I wanted my own business, so I figured I needed to get very good experience early on, often graduate architects start doing 3D renders and Photoshop, so I was lucky this company gave me that experience.
I was dealing with “requests for information” from builders straight away, and was exposed to the realities of getting a project built. I worked at a few other companies after that both in London and in Perth, and realising over this time that I most enjoyed my time at a small studio working on residential projects. The fact that I could manage a project from start to finish was appealing.
What principles inform your work?
I believe in investing in quality design to add value to properties, creating quality spaces for people whilst ensuring budgets are creatively met.
A focus on flexibility and planning efficiencies to suit a contemporary lifestyle underpins all our work. For houses, they should be “of its place”, they should meet the budget, but most importantly the Client must love it and be excited to show their home to their friends. I believe architecture should be affordable, accessible, and for people, not for other architects. Often as architects we are inclined to drop fees, enter competitions (free work!) which is upsetting. We need to value our profession, as good design should not only benefit the client but the surrounding context and improve the quality of our built environment.
In what way do you think your work responds to the lecture series theme ‘in-terre-vention’?
All the projects I’ll be discussing, while diverse in scale and aesthetics, have very similar processes and responses to the context, whether that context be the physical location or the preoccupations of the client. The homes I’ll be discussing are similar in that they are located in or near town centres or mixed use zones. This creates a unique opportunity for recreating what a “home” is. Flexibility is key in these projects, the ability for the owners to sub-lease out areas of their home for Airbnb rentals, or a commercial tenancy are income generation measures. These additional uses cultivate activity and interaction with the street and are what I believe to be truly modern. I’ll explore materiality and form across scales and how this can link to the site.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
I seem to always gravitate to Japanese residential architecture; the efficiency of their planning, and their clean aesthetic. Lately I’m very interested in using materials that don’t need an applied finish, raw and natural materials and the idea of longevity. We are surrounded by volume produced homes in Perth that are made to be affordable not to last. I love cities, the bigger the better, so places like New York, London and Paris are always on my radar and provide plenty of inspiration; both the built works and the culture.
What are your top three favourite design books?