In addition to running her practice, Suzie is a great advocate for architecture. She is the immediate past president of the Australian Institute of Architects’ WA Chapter, writes a column on architecture and is even a presenter on a TV show about architects and architecture.
Suzie’s story of how she became an architect is an interesting one. When she left school she had dreamed of a career as an actor and initially only studied architecture as a fallback, thinking she could get into acting through theatre design. However, after becoming an architect she never looked back.
“For me it combines all of the things I really like – art, people and psychology.”
In Suzie’s practice, which she established in 2004, the focus is on people. “My focus is on providing a great architecture service for my clients, caring about their needs and hopefully transforming their lives,” she said. “My aim is to not only give people what they need and want but also things they hadn’t thought of – the element of surprise and delight in architecture.”
Suzie’s advice to people thinking of engaging an architect is to interview several. “You need to think about whether you can be honest with this person and respect them – and this applies for both sides, architect and client,” she said. “Designing and building a home can take two-to-three years so you need to have a synergy and be able to get along.”
In terms of the design process, Suzie always starts with an analysis of the site, its sense of place and its particular climate. The next step is to consider the client’s brief.
“My role as an architect is to really get into the mind of my clients before I start designing,” she said. “I take this role seriously and always ensure that I am the point of contact for my clients.”
Communicating with clients is an important element of the design stage and to do this Suzie employs a wide range of media, from hand-drawn sketches to 3D computer models and cardboard models. “It’s a journey, and I want to make sure the client is walking with us not behind us,” Suzie said. “Not everyone can visualise buildings in 3D but with a cardboard model they can take it home and pull it apart.”
Suzie’s approach to architecture is holistic – considering the interiors and garden as well as the built form. “We spend far more time inside our homes looking out than we do looking at our home as an object,” she said.