Shane Thompson was a partner at architecture practice BVN for 24 years, until recently leaving to start his own, far smaller studio a year ago. His new studio feels a world away from the bustle of the inner city. Here, attached to his house in the country outside of Brisbane, the studio perches next to a still pond. Paddocks and a horse track are in the distance, hidden slightly behind a copse of eucalyptus.
It all seems rather idyllic and Thompson seems very pleased. His move from the fast pace of large-scale corporate architecture to this six-person studio is well-articulated by him. Without an ounce of regret or frustration, he simply explains that while he was, and still is, a supporter of BVN and interested in what they do, the treadmill of managing the scale of projects that he was working on had shifted his focus away from the things he wanted to do more of: surfing, seeing his family and painting.
The move from BVN to his own practice was considered and so, perhaps, it is unsurprising how well he describes how he wants to run his current set-up, what is important to architecture and important to him. With a quiet confidence, built, he says, from the fact that he’s done the building of a business already (and successfully), he doesn’t have that stress or expectation, he is able to stop worrying about what other people will think and focus on creating “a poetic response to a place”.
While poetry may be the goal of their work, there is nothing antiquated about their process. Within the small studio, the team work between the physical drawing boards, butter paper and hand-made models, and more technologically advanced computer rendering programmes, 3D printers and 3D scanners. It is the physical making and working through many of the ideas, as well as the open studio setting, where they can be freely exchanged without formal meetings which creates a cohesion and collaboration on all the projects.
Thompson’s interest in art, seen with the works spilling over every wall in his studio, has also influenced how he responds to the making of architecture. He has noticed that artists don’t separate out their art work and their lives. Instead art is entirely a part of their lives and vice versa. It is a sentiment he also embraces, though he hastens to add, while his life is in the house right alongside, the door and small passage between work and home is an important one.