Four Walls Architecture Ltd is owned by Amy Hendry and Claire Paterson. Together they service clients in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown. With a passion for Residential Architecture, they lead their clients through every stage of the architectural process, from design, documentation to construction. They help their clients through this exciting process, helping them to make the experience as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.
Amy Hendry, Director, Four Walls Architecture Ltd
1.How did it come about that you chose a career in Architecture?
I was interested in and good at a real mix of subjects at high school (art, languages, maths), and my dad suggested I consider architecture. I really knew nothing about it until then. Once I read the course outlines I was pretty hooked.
2.What influences your signature design style?
I don’t believe in signature styles, and I think it’s a dangerous box to let yourself fall into. I try to look at every project with fresh eyes, and try to let the design tell me what it needs in response to a clear brief.
In our renovation work it’s about looking at the existing house and architecture and coming up with an innovative but respectful design language that also matches who the clients are. With new houses we listen really closely to what the client has in their head and translate it into something that fits the site and brief, using honest, considered and resolved architectural moves. But if I had to talk about influences, I grew up in Christchurch so I find I am inherently drawn to the clear, uncomplicated elegance of Warren and Mahoney’s 1970’s and 80’s concrete block townhouses, and I do find that I have a lot in common with the Group architects. I recently purchased Julia Gatley’s book on them and so much of what I saw rang true to me, with their uncomplicated forms, their calmness and humility.
3. Are you concerned about environmental and social sustainability in your buildings? If so, what roles does green building play into your work?
Always. I am a big believer in city densification for instance, so I am always really happy to expand and cleverly renovate someone’s small house to a slightly bigger more liveable one, to make the most of their inner city site. I am also a big believer in quality instead of quantity – it’s just not necessary to build huge houses and use all those materials and waste space.
4.Who inspires you?
Anyone who produces quality, beautiful architecture that serves and is kind to its occupants, rather than tries to perform architectural gymnastics for a magazine cover.
Some of the architecture that’s been in the magazines lately is so brutal and hostile, why would you want your client to live in that?
5. What is the difference between projects you carried out at University vs real working life?
Real life is just that – real.
That’s never to say that university isn’t essential in your architectural training – university teaches you how to think and hones, challenges and captures your creativity. Real practice teaches you how to use that creativity and flair to respond to the real sites and people put in front of you. I had a blast at university but equally love working in architecture. It’s a responsibility to put buildings on this earth – they are there for a very long time and it’s a huge pleasure getting to contribute to that.
6. Which project has been your favourite to work on?
I have many favourites, and their common theme is a lovely client who puts their trust in you to do your job as an architect.
7.What have you found to be the most difficult challenge obstacle to overcome in your career as an architect?
I am very lucky that when I graduated it was at the start of a construction boom and there were plenty of jobs, so I never had to scrounge around for work. Setting up my own practice was really huge – you invest a lot of time, energy and commitment to something that you desperately want to work out. I can’t say I’ve had any obstacles because I’ve never allowed anything to stand in my way – as in life there is always a way forward, even if it’s not the one you thought of first.
8.The market can be very competitive for an Architectural Graduate entering the job market, what top two pieces of advice would you offer them?
The grads that stand out to me are the ones who are not afraid to come out from behind the emailing! Our recent graduate impressed me first off by calling me about our job advertisement, instead of emailing or applying through Seek. We had a great chat on the phone and along with her interview and references, that reassured me on three levels that she was worth hiring. You’ve got to be prepared to put yourself out there like that, because with that personal touch you will stand out and be remembered. And do not over sell yourself! You will get found out when you start working if you can’t do the things you said you can. Again, our recent grad was really honest about her gaps in her experience, and that gave us a great place to start with what areas we needed to support and train her, and where we could leave her to it.
9.With the Auckland market being so buoyant, what career advice could you give the Architectural Graduate still developing their career?
Do not pigeon hole yourself by trying to only work for big firms. You will probably get far more experience working for a smaller firm, with more mentoring and experience in all the different stages of projects. If you want to register, smaller firms will probably get you there a lot quicker. But ultimately, find a job that fits you as a person, in a company that produces work that rings true to you.
10.What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to be remembered for?
Great architecture with happy occupants.
The interview was conducted by Senior Consultant - Nelsha du Plessis.