Brisbane-based Shaun Lockyer and his eponymous practice, Shaun Lockyer Architects (SLa), have become award-winning architects since founding the company in 2009. Engaging in projects ranging from residential, institutional, commercial and interiors, the company is kept busy – and helps fill Urbis‘ pages with its most recent designs. Shaun Lockyer, 42, the man behind the recently featured ‘A Shore Thing’, gave Urbis an insight into his work.
Urbis: Where did you train as an architect?
Shaun Lockyer: I studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and was lucky enough to study with (and under) some very inspirational architects. I graduated in 1993 with distinction.
U: What brought you to Australia and more specifically, Brisbane?
SL: South Africa is a gorgeous place and very blessed in many regards but is not a place that we wanted to have our kids grow up in. We loved the optimism and positivity that Australia represented, as well as the people and the culture as a whole. I had also followed the work of a number of great architects from Australia and loved the sense of narrative and their response to place. It simply felt more relevant and appropriate than what I had been doing in South Africa. We lived in Sydney originally, then spent some time in country New South Wales and then onto Brisbane in January 2000. We loved the sense of Brisbane being a new frontier for work in Australia and this has certainly been a good decision.
U: What do you specialise in in your practice?
SL: While most of our work is residential, the choice to do this work is more related to scale and process than type. We like the idea of intimacy and control, both of which we find in smaller work where the spirit is more about quality and outcome than it is usually about return on investment. We like the idea that our work touches the lives of our clients and that we know who they are.
U: Do you have a signature style? If so, how would you describe it?
SL: While others may have a different opinion to me, I would say no. Our work is reflective of process, pragmatism, function, joy etc. The work carries themes with it and employs similar techniques to deliver that work within tight cost constraints. This invariably means there are common themes (like the use of timber) but we see this more about a language than a style as such. I see myself as a modernist so like the idea that our work is reflective of what it does (form follows function) rather than a preconceived idea of style or fashion.
U: What do your clients generally want?
SL: They are always keen on a home with an extra dimension to it, not just a home of rooms. They are wanting a place that has spirit that not only delivers on the practical brief but offers a heightened sense of living. They want us to control a process for them and deliver a finished product for them in a stress-free manner.They recognise that there is something special to be done and want our guidance on how to achieve this.
U: Is budget usually a consideration?
SL: Always! We work with (in most cases) very limited and controlled budgets and do our very best to stick to the plan! We work very hard with our builders to take advantage of efficiencies and lessons learned from past builds. We want to use resources wisely and focus on spending money on the parts of a design that will positively impact on our clients lives first.
U: What are you excited about in architectural trends at the moment?
SL: Honesty, simplicity and authenticity. I like that good contemporary work references modernism and seeks to focus on how things work rather than just how they look. I like the balance between the functional and the spiritual elements of architecture and how both are becoming equally important to people.
U: What are you working on at the moment?
SL: A range of things but what is great for us is the variety of locations and briefs we are working with. We are doing weekend retreats up mountains, holiday homes on islands and city homes on massive and small portions of land. This variety of work stretches us and invigorates thought and ideas that often cross-pollinate between projects. The end result is a better outcome for our clients and an interesting space within which to be working.
U: What’s your own home like?
SL: Eclectic but based in modernist ideology. The home combines a contemporary extension grafted onto a simple post-war cottage with a very clear juxtaposition between the two. The house is called “The Lighthouse” and features on our website as well as a number of books published internationally. It is our smallest project but has resonated with a lot of people as it is accessible and achievable on a relatively modest budget. We love it and are completing our 7th (and hopefully last) stage of building on it at present!