Ben Mountford. Perth, Western Australia
Ben’s love of architecture started as a child living in Sydney. “My father was a builder working for some of Sydney’s top architects in the 1980s and I often went to work with him on Saturdays and school holidays,” he says. “I was fortunate to experience some great Sydney homes, the challenging topography of coastal New South Wales lending itself to dramatic architecture.”
It wasn’t just the architecture that impressed Ben during his early experiences on site. He also enjoyed seeing how passionate people were about their homes. “Seeing happy clients at the end of a project is what’s great about residential architecture,” he says. “For some people a well-designed new home can be life-changing.”
Ben attributes his international outlook to early influences in his career from lecturers at university who had worked in London and Europe and, more recently, to the influence of his wife, also an architect. “Before COVID-19, we make a point of visiting her home in Ireland every year and visiting friends who are architects in other European cites, so I used to see a lot of new international work every year,” he says.
This appreciation for design informs Ben’s design process, and his advice to people thinking about designing and building a new home is “good work takes time”. His design process generally takes three to four months, working closely with the client to resolve how the home will work, how it will look and how it will feel.
Ben explains the design process as the research and development phase of the project. “With a mining background, Western Australia is a state of problem solvers and resourceful people,” he says. “So it’s no surprise that when clients are involved with innovation at work they bring the same approach to their homes and are interested in new materials and new ways of planning spaces.”
For Ben, the most important factors to consider in designing and building a new home are understanding the amenities of the particular site, the scope of the brief and the priorities for the budget. He thinks of himself and the client as a team in the early stages of the project, working together to resolve these issues, but notes it is ultimately the role of the architect to bring everything together to create the best possible outcome for the client based on their experience and expertise.
With his rigorous approach to design, Ben once said to a client he was concerned it might feel like they were going around in circles. However, the client was quick to point out they in fact saw his process as a “series of interlocking circles creating a chain – leading to the creation of the home they always wanted”.