Architect Spotlight – Hamilton Wilson

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Hamilton Wilson, photo by Brent Hardcastle.

Wilson Architects create exceptional places for people. We believe the quality of our surroundings directly influences the quality of our lives, be it in the workplace, at home or in our public spaces.

Founded by Alex B. Wilson in 1884, Wilson Architects is one of Australia’s oldest continuous architectural practices. Hamilton Wilson is the fourth generation of the family to lead the company as Managing Director.

Wilson Architects is nationally recognised for expertise in the innovative design of contemporary education environments, research laboratory design and adaptive reuse.

Our design philosophy is solution-based with a strong emphasis on sensory experiences and human responses to every project. Likewise, our strategic thinking is founded upon ongoing empirical research whereby design innovation is informed by evaluated outcomes.

Wilson Architects have won over 100 Industry Awards and Commendations

How would you describe you design philosophy in three words?

Phenomenology – emotion – materiality.

How do you see design improving our quality of life, and how we live, work, consume and connect?

Design and research are interconnected. Design can easily be rhetorical, assumed and flawed without adequate research. Researched design can elevate the pragmatic to the poetic. A considered response to occupation puts those who have to experience the space, place or building at the centre of the idea.

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Translational Research Institute (Wilson Architects + Donovan Hill Architects in Association) photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.

As society enters an unprecedented period of globalization, do you believe that Australian designers have a unique aesthetic or attitude?

Australian designers work in a particular cultural and environmental context. As such, it theoretically should have a different nuanced response to other places. Other countries covert this as much as Australians, at times, covert their context. I lived and worked in London for two years and eventually yearned for the qualities of light, the skies, the storms, the temperature and the people.

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Translational Research Institute (Wilson Architects + Donovan Hill Architects in Association) photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.

How do you see design shaping the world around us?

The most challenging and rewarding part of design is working with others. It is not always easy to negotiate and collaborate around different design values, but often the result is worth it. It is important to remember that there is much that has been produced of value and that we are fortunate to live in a time where we can draw from the past and synthesis fresh responses to our contemporary context.

For you, what is the most challenging part of the design process and what is the most rewarding?

I think as architects we are often nothing without a brief. Personally, I am not comfortable in a space to wholly speculate. My happy unrestricted creative space is to paint where the process is mine and the output is mine, but can be at times generously shared.

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James Cook University, Verandah Walk photo by Andrew Rankin.

If you were give yourself an unrestricted creative brief, what would this look like?

Good design considers the human condition. I am presently working on developing an Intensive Care Unit bed space for the future with a large team of clinicians, specialists and technologists. The main reason for this project is to question the design and practice around the ICU bed space which has in the past been designed around the clinician and the technology, but not the patient. Developing a prototype for this space allows us to question the status and centre the design instead around the patient. This is a reminder that without human occupation and interaction, a design is a soulless object.

At Brickworks, we are devotees to good design, what do you look for in good design?

As a fourth-generation architect and a son of a landscape architect, I have a lot to look up to. In Queensland there are many architects who have contributed to the character of our place. My great grandfather, as President of the Australian Institute of Architects in the 1920s, who arrived as a boy of 8 in 1864, understood the climatic nuance of his new place and prescribed a shift away from the colonial response to one where verandas became part of the extension of the house as outdoor rooms.

My grandfather suffered a practice with two wars and two depressions, but trained also an engineer and had a restrained pragmatic and structural architectural intent to his work.

My father and mother combined architecture and landscape into a practice that began to integrate the built form with landscape.

So I count myself fortunate to not only draw upon this legacy, as well as the talents of my other Director, John Thong, and team, but to have also collaboratively worked on projects with John Wardle Architects (Melbourne), LahzNimmo Architects (Sydney), Donovan Hill (Brisbane), Ken Yeang (Malaysia), and more recently Henning Larson (Denmark). Each practice has a different work culture and series of design values, but all have a dedicated and considered approach to design.

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James Cook University, Education Central (Wilson Architects with Architects North) photo by Christopher Frederick Jones.

Article by brickworksbp

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