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Richard Stampton's 'Quiet Architecture'

Architecture

We thought we knew all the key players in Melbourne’s architecture world. Then, we discovered Richard Stampton Architects. Suffice to say we’ve been caught quite off guard.

Richard and his team design buildings that are quiet,  even recessive, yet distinctly powerful in their simplicity. These are projects that look and feel like nothing else we’ve seen locally, and seem to signal a completely new direction for Australian architecture. We’re paying attention.

21st August, 2018

Architect Richard Stampton. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Bush Camp 1 in South East Victoria by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Bush Camp 1 in South East Victoria by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Bush Camp 1 in South East Victoria by Richard Stampton Architects. Lightweight, temporary camping facilities that float above and respect the landscape. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Collingwood (now Good Vibes Yoga), designed by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Collingwood (now Good Vibes Yoga), designed by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Collingwood (now Good Vibes Yoga), designed by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Ashtanga Yoga Studio in Collingwood (now Good Vibes Yoga), designed by Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Rory Gardiner.

Fitzroy Community school 1, Thornbury. Completed 2011. Designed Richard Stampton Architects in collaboration with Baracco+Wright. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Fitzroy Community school 1, Thornbury. Completed 2011. Designed Richard Stampton Architects in collaboration with Baracco+Wright. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Richard Stampton at his Argyle st Office project. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Richard Stampton at his Argyle st Office project. Photo – Caitlin Mills.

Argyle st Office, completed 2014  by  Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Argyle st Office, completed 2014  by  Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Fitzroy Community School 2, Thornbury. Completed 2016 by  Richard Stampton Architects. Photo – by the architect.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 21st August 2018

‘We hope that our projects don’t stand out at all. We hope that the community and passers by slowly notice and find a place for them in their experience of the street.’ – Richard Stampton.

After cutting his teeth as a young architect working for Peter Corrigan in Melbourne and celebrated Italian architect Renzo Piano in Paris, Richard Stampton established his own practice, Richard Stampton Architects, in 2009. The studio is based in Phillip Island, maintaining Richard’s lifelong connection to the ocean. ‘While our work is mostly built in Melbourne, our studio is on Phillip Island, and Christy Bryar, a very talented architect who has worked at RSA since 2011, is based in Gipsy Point. We particularly enjoy shifting between these contexts’. Richard muses.

‘Our goal is to make quiet, situational and culturally specific architecture’ Richard continues. ‘We strive to achieve this by making each project connect with its context on multiple levels.’

Richard isn’t interested in standing out. He’s not particularly interested in publicity, either. Instead, his is an altogether quieter, slower, and less ‘hyperactive’ approach to building design. Ironically.. he has our full attention.

Richard, where did you come from? Can you give us a little insight into your background?

The ocean is a big part of my life. I grew up sailing and surfing. That’s not obviously architectural, but it did create a spatial awareness and awareness of nature which certainly influences the way we approach architecture. The first thing I think about each morning is which way is the wind blowing.

I had great teachers and mentors. Working for Peter Corrigan in Melbourne and Renzo Piano in Paris were both, in very different ways, great influences on me. My parents are amazingly handy and crafty and taught me to collage, sew and use PVA glue and timber. I spent last week making a concept model for a presentation out of cardboard and PVA!

What are the distinguishing features of your architecture practice and the projects you deliver?

We limit the amount of projects we take on to allow us to prioritise building strong client relationships. The fact we have already delivered a number of projects for the same clients is something we’re most proud of.

Our goal is to make quiet, situational and culturally specific architecture. We strive to achieve this by making each project connect with its context on multiple levels – from the conscious simplicity of a roofline on the street, to the often subconscious experience of complex spatial sequencing and the proportion and materiality of internal spaces.

This mediation of the conscious and subconscious experiences of architecture, as with the universal and the situational, the rational and emotional aspects of design, allows us to create site connections while avoiding nostalgia.

What have been some of your standout projects and why?

Actually, we hope that our projects don’t stand out at all. We hope that the community and passersby slowly notice and find a place for them in their experience of the street. We devise a specific and unique balance between standing out and concealment for each project.

We often work in historically rich built environments like inner Melbourne. However,  recently our energy has been keenly focused on a Trust for Nature landscape near Wilsons Promontory for an important client of ours, Peter. This project is about combining the surrounding farmland vernacular; the water tank as ubiquitous structure, and what we learn from gazing up to the constellation of planets and stars. We’re working on bringing these two familiar, but intergalactically different, elements together into a subtle cosmological array of structures. There is cosmic energy at play!

What are some trends you are excited about in Australian architecture at the moment?

We are interested in architecture that is rigorous and strongly associated with its situation’s past and future, and which avoid overly abstract and hyperactive form making. So while we don’t get excited about trends necessarily, we are very excited about all of the architects practicing in this quieter way now finding more support in Melbourne.

What is the best thing about being an architect working in Melbourne at the moment – and on the other hand what is the most challenging aspect of running your practice?

Building our designs and working on a great variety of project types. This has much to do with Melbourne’s culture and our clients, who are ambitious and supportive of building ideas and enduring architecture.

The two greatest challenges to practice (and life) are reconciling the lack of meaningful connection to, and understanding of, our indigenous cultures. Australia can’t do its best work until this is properly addressed. Secondly, reconciling how we live, build and act everyday with how that affects our natural environment. I feel these challenges are philosophically interconnected.

Peruse more of Richard Stampton Architects’ impressive portfolio of built projects on their website.

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net