Architect Spotlight – Chloe Naughton
Originally from North Queensland, Chloe moved to Brisbane to study architecture at Queensland University of Technology. Upon graduating, Chloe designed a house in Bowen for her parents to retire in – Inverdon House.
Taking advantage of the incredible learning opportunity that would come from overseeing the build of her first project, Chloe moved back to North Queensland during construction. Committed to climate-responsive architecture, this project became a testing ground for her to develop her ideas about architecture in the dry tropical context, aligning the design of Inverdon House with the skills and expertise of local trade.
Chloe now lives in Brisbane and works with local practice m3architecture where she is engaging with architecture on a much larger scale and in a variety of contexts and was a speaker at the 2017 Asia Pacific Architecture Forum in Brisbane.
When did you realize that you wanted to become an architect?
I somehow fell into an architecture degree not fully understanding what an architect’s role entailed. The realization of wanting to actually become one didn’t occur until I found myself in my final semester of second year studies. I was lacking the necessary curiosity and passion for the degree until I was met with a wonderful tutor who shared intriguing texts and exemplar projects that really resonated with me and broadened my view of the profession.
How would you describe your signature style?
The architects who I respect most don’t have a signature style. I believe that every project should be unique in its addressing of brief, user and context. There are certain queues one may take from a building which might suggest who designed it but once again, if they are a great architect, you can never really pinpoint what that distinctive quality is.
I have only just begun my career and so I aim to treat every project individually like the great architects I admire most.
Who/What has been the biggest influence on your work?
North Queensland’s beautiful yet unforgiving tropical landscape has been my greatest influence and teacher to date. Understanding how to work with the elements rather than blindly closing down to them allows for a stronger connection to the landscape.
I am also largely influenced by the great masonry buildings of North Queensland and in particular the work of James Birrell at James Cook University in Townsville.
What is the most rewarding thing about being an architect?
Buildings are places people inhabit for the majority of their lives so to be able to influence one’s experience in life through their built environment is a very powerful role and is not only a huge responsibility but also a tremendous honour.
Tell us about a project that made you really happy to work on.
To create a home for your loved ones is a very emotional and personal process, yet tremendously rewarding. Being so closely involved in the building process of Inverdon House provided a great excuse to live in a small sea-side town close to family and old friends.
Your recent project, Inverdon House is located in Bowen, North Queensland. What kind of design challenges did you have to overcome in this type of environment?
The North Queensland climate forces resilience upon its inhabitants and the buildings in this region reflect this characteristic also. The terror of a category five cyclone never quite leaves you. This part of Australia is prone to tropical cyclones, flooding and even earthquakes and so this becomes a driving force of the design process for buildings in this region.
For Inverdon House, the wind loading, storm surge and flooding calculations became strong variables when designing which has seen Inverdon House now survive an earthquake and most recently, Cyclone Debbie. It is important to work with an engineer who not only understands the climatic extremes of wherever you are building but who also aids in providing a realistic response to these conditions.
What do you feel is your strongest skill and how have you continued to develop it?
Living and working in a regional town can leave one feeling quite detached from the industry, particularly when there aren’t any other architects to turn to for advice.
I had to learn very quickly to ask a lot of questions and not be afraid to show my vulnerability. I found people were more receptive to this attitude and the more I listened, the more they shared.
Name one architectural destination that non architects should see?
Gaudi’s work in Barcelona had a profound effect on me. I travelled alone through Spain after my second year of studying architecture and was taken by the volume of work Gaudi had achieved in such a short life-time. Park Guell in particular was quite spectacular.
Which architect(s) working today do you most admire?
Those who share everything and hold no secrets. So much can be learnt from letting down your guard and sharing – this was a vital lesson learned during the construction of Inverdon House where I shared the whole construction process, the good and the bad through a social media platform, receiving feedback, critique and encouragement from people from all different parts of the world.