The Intern XV: Roux The Day

Thursday, 1st May 2014

David Weir Architects

Mosman Park, Western Australia, Australia


It's been a while since I've written a new entry in this series; a little over a month. Between university coursework, ALVA/SONA/UWA responsibilities, developing a potential new business, continuing on with website development and writing entries, keeping up with social engagements, and everything else in-between, it's hard to keep up on everything going on. Things tend to get out of hand when you're attempting to be four different people at the same time. I don't like to digress on how busy I make myself to be - someone once told me that it is the mark of an egotistical expletive - so let's move onto a much-needed update on THE INTERN Writing Series: Roux The Day.

Thursdays in the DWA office have now been dubbed Intern Thursday by DW, so the website received some tender and loving care. We added two new projects to the website: The East Fremantle House, and House Roux (The pun has now been justified).

The East Fremantle House has been on the table for a while now, but has been newly introduced to the digital republic. A 75m² building footprint for a family in a small sub-divided lot delivers potential for vertical development and bountiful ground level interaction. House Roux has been the focus of our attention the last few months, with a lot of work going into making it feel like a home. While there isn't a project page for it just yet, the blog post over on the DWA website has formally announced it to the world. Dave loves working with small sites - there is much more room for potential. We believe the old ideal of having a front yard big enough to play cricket on and a back yard large enough to sustainably install housing for a small community group has seen better days. Small is the new big.

We're also working on another side project, involving a house renovation to bring it to contemporary standards. I can't release too much information, but we're very glad that the client has decided to engage us; generally speaking, don't leave the organisation of spaces to an engineer. I have therefore dubbed any future project like this a . . .

H'aughhhhh? This is terrible, but I like it too much. Thursdays feel like Tool Time; only because I'm there, and I'm a bit of a tool. In true Tim "The Toolman" Taylor style, I'm always demanding more power from designs. Dave will pull me back to reality with a "I don't think so, Cale". This could go much, much further, but you can choose to continue it, dear reader.

But the architecture did not end on Thursday! On Tuesday, we attended a Supplier's Meeting, where they show us samples of a material and we discuss the feasibility of using these materials on future projects. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. In my experience, suppliers are very honest with you: they're not out there to sell you the kit and kaboodle, they want to see the product being used effectively. Good experiences with products equals continued use and multiplied referrers through positive word-of-mouth - and that always trumps gaining that extra sale with ulterior motives.

To show how their product is used on actual projects, we went around to two sites near by. It's a bit of a silent rule, but generally don't take photos without the express permission of the owner. And if you intend on publishing these photos - such as, in a writings section on your personal website - then obtain permission. You have absolutely no idea of what the project marketing is, nor do you know what is safe to publish and what is not safe. The last thing that you want is to land a contractor, owner, builder, architect or any other party on the wrong side of the law due to your insolence. Therefore, the lens cap on my camera stayed on quite firmly.

In the case of this photo - the only photo I took - I asked for permission. The owner was more than happy for me to publish this one.

This project is amazing.

A Little House at No. 18, designed by Mark Richardson, is currently under construction at Little Howard Street in Fremantle. Owner-Builder Greg O'Bryne was on site going through some roof cladding details with a contractor when we arrived. If there ever was a client who was as passionate and hands-on as anyone could ever be, that person would be Greg. Featured in the above image giving the thumbs up to someone out of frame, he was extremely happy to show us around the project - even past the stage where we saw the supplier's material being used - and give us some insight on the building and construction.

I don't want to give too much away as I'm currently trying to plan a site visit for university students, but I was completely taken back as to the level of detail and the intricacies of every minute feature. Everything was considered. A wide array of construction materials and methods have been exhibited - even a few that surprised us. Discussions about what the definition of a 'smart home' is followed, and it's interesting to discover the technology present in a project that is using over 100 year-old railway tracks within the structural system. I'll be following this project very closely, and you should as well. Give them a follow on their blog. You won't be disappointed.

Hopefully it won't be as long as it has been for the next update.