This week I caught up with Sam Austen, Associate with Watson Young Architects and the Perth office lead. Throughout our conversation, it was evident that Sam's passion for good architecture and his friendly nature made him an invaluable member of the Watson Young team. It was a pleasure to meet such a talented and personable architect who clearly loves what he does.
Austen's passion for art was the initial driving force that led him to pursue a career in architecture. While he enjoys the creative aspects of designing, he also finds fulfillment in the practicalities of building. Sam believes that architecture strikes a perfect balance between art and the environment, making it the ideal career path for him. With a deep love for art, Sam continuously nurtures this passion, finding opportunities to dabble in oils and experiment with other mediums.
“While architecture is often associated with visually striking drawings and 3D models, it's crucial to recognise that not every project provides the opportunity to showcase one's creative flair.”
For Sam, he firmly believes in the importance of having a hobby outside of work to sustain his design passion and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Sharpening skills in the workplace is important, but so is developing a sense of identity and individuality outside of work.
Despite the setback of the global financial crisis, which hit just after Sam delivered his Master of Architecture dissertation speech at Curtin University, he remained undaunted and landed a job at Franco Carozzi Architects. For five years, he dedicated himself to working on various government housing projects throughout Western Australia, frequently traveling to destinations such as Carnarvon, Karratha, and Southwest.
After gaining valuable experience in WA, Sam and his family relocated to Melbourne where he embarked on a new journey with Watson Young Architects. For five years, he worked at their Prahran office alongside a talented team of architects and directors. Sam was particularly drawn to the office's people and fantastic leadership, with directors Adrian Young and Colin Watson valuing both work-life balance and quality work. Following this, Sam relocated back to Perth and became the lead of the Watson Young Perth office. Sam played a pivotal role in establishing Watson Young's presence in Perth, using his expertise and hard work to help lay the foundation for success. Now, after four and a half years of operation, the Perth office has a team of six dedicated staff members, all of whom share Sam's commitment to creating exceptional architecture while also enjoying every aspect of it.
Sam's expertise in the industrial sector of architecture has led to his production of impressive projects during his tenure at Watson Young Architects. Among these projects is the one he executed for Remedy Kombucha in Dandenong South, Victoria. Despite the challenges of designing a large manufacturing facility and office space in a tight area, Sam's team managed to achieve a remarkable design outcome that is now nearing completion. The building's façade boasts a wide glass frontage that creates a magnificent spanning effect. Additionally, a double-height void opening with horizontal louvers, accompanied by a feature wall designed by one of Sam's wonderful colleagues, Aaron, adds unique character to the structure. As Sam noted,
"The feature wall was designed to reflect the bubbly effervescent nature of Kombucha."
The building also features a delightful double-height void outdoor area, which is integrated into the warehouse footprint and boasts an open roof space where a tree is intended to grow and peep through.
Sam's passion for the contract administration side of the job is just as strong as his love for design. Notably, he successfully led the completion of an impressive project the Mercedes-Benz showroom located in a prime spot in Geelong. This endeavor, while marked by challenges due to its size and commercial nature, was masterfully tackled by Sam and his team. The result was a resounding success thanks to the collaboration of a fantastic builder and team. For Sam, being involved in the contract administration side of a project is one of his favourite areas, and he takes immense pride in ensuring that everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
In the world of industrial architecture, finding a balance between creativity and practicality is key to successful design. As the commercial and industrial sectors become more competitive, the importance of quality design has risen, and Sam has been at the forefront of this trend. His passion for designing something exceptional and his enjoyment of working with people have driven his career forward. Through his dedication and commitment to his craft, Sam has become a leader in his field.
The Watson Young office in Sydney and Perth are currently seeking a versatile Architectural Draftsperson/Documenter to work on architectural projects of medium to large scale. If this position captures your interest, click the link.