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No Place Like…

At Architectus, our design philosophy is underpinned by the human connection between people and place. Many of us have spent the summer months reflecting on the lockdowns that have been and the places we have most missed, but hope to visit again soon, as we welcome a new year of possibility.

Ponte de Dom Luis, Porto, Portugal

Ponte de Dom Luís I, Porto, Portugal

Luis Salgado, Senior Team Member

“The site of Ponte de Dom Luís I – or the Dom Luís I Bridge – has a dark but also hopeful history in Porto, my home city. But then, I suppose this is typical of European cities whose cultures stretch back so far in time.

“Before Théophile Seyrig’s (the German protégé of Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame) design sprung to life in the 1880s, a long row of boats connected by a timber panel running port to starboard formed a makeshift bridge connecting the two shores. From here, the people of Porto resisted Napoleon’s army.

“Although built to honour Luís I, King of Portugal, the graceful bridge symbolises Porto and its people. It unites us in identity and spirit, the way the bridge itself gently connects the shores of the place from which our nation takes her name.

“When I think about the ‘Luís’ – the bridge, not me – one word comes to mind: Saudade. Sadly, for non-Portuguese speakers, this word has no direct translation to other languages, but I will do my best. Saudade is the feeling we experience when we feel nostalgic about something or someone that belongs to our past or is far away from us. Saudade is that enduring love that remains over time and distance.”

Salk Institute

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California

Nigel Justins, Senior Associate

“In 1996, when I was on holiday in the United States, I visited Louis Kahn’s seminal Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Situated on cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean, Kahn majestically grouped a series of research laboratories in cloister like pods either side of a minimalist courtyard. Standing in that courtyard filled with southern Californian sun, my eye was immediately drawn towards the framed view of endless sky and ocean, blowing away any premediated doubts about the omission of soft landscaping.

“Built in 1965, Kahn radically placed entire interstitial servant floors of services in between highly adaptable laboratory spaces. Take a guided tour here and you will learn how much the building is beloved by its guardians as they go about their business of conducting world-leading biological research in highly adaptable spaces.

“Here is modernism at its finest, achieving an extraordinary sense of place working with a restrained palette of off-form concrete and teak panels. A marvellous building and one that I’d love to get back to someday.”

Sophie Cleland, Principal Architectus

Quarantine Station, Point Nepean National Park, Victoria

Sophie Cleland, Principal

“Through the lockdowns that have plagued Melbourne over the last two years, I longed to visit the historic Quarantine Station at Victoria’s Point Nepean National Park, a place I have regularly walked and swum most of my life. It is part of Bunurong Land. This is a place where I come to unwind, walking through the landscape and along the shore. I think it has the most beautiful coastline in the country.

“The Quarantine Station includes old hospital’s infrastructure and housing and tells the stories of people who sailed here to start a new life. It was used for Kosovo refugees up until the 1990s. There is a story of a family being welcomed to Melbourne from a refugee camp drawn by children on one of the walls. It reminds me of our city’s generous spirit.”

Agnieszka Romanowicz-Butler, Poland

Rynek Główny, Krakow, Poland

Agnieszka Romanowicz-Butler, Associate

“Rynek Główny, Krakow’s Main Square in English, is a place that has always captured my heart and makes me feel nostalgic. There is something magical about it, especially at Christmas time with the twinkly lights warming up the snowy, cold and dark winter evenings.

“It’s the largest medieval main square in Europe and, sitting in the city’s Old Town, is full of history. The incredible buildings span different epochs that create a tangible sense of walking through the past. There’s the humble Romanesque Church of St. Adalbert, the majestic gothic St. Mary’s Basilica, and the medieval Cloth Hall (remodelled in the Renaissance era). The enigmatic weight of these previous societies is made light by the atmospheric cafes, a hang-out for poets and artists, and underground teahouses full of invigorating students with bold ideas.

“Personally, it holds memories of my academic studies in Krakow, where I used to go to arthouse cinemas, art exhibitions, and eye-opening lectures. It was here that I celebrated graduating from university at a fancy restaurant with my parents.

“As a Pole who has established a home in Australia, the thought of returning to Rynek Główny makes me feel a bit teary!”

Michele McSharry Ticino Switzerland

Ticino, Switzerland

Michele McSharry, Senior Associate

“My mum is Swiss, and I spent part of my childhood growing up in Zurich. During those years we often spent summers in the Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland. To get there, we drove through the 59-kilometre-long Gotthard tunnel beneath the Gotthard Massif alps. When we finally emerged, we were in the canton of Ticino, and the humidity, the Italian language, different food, and palm trees would hit us immediately. I have always marvelled at how such a small country can have four languages, such varied scenery and countless canton-specific cuisines. In the Ticino, they eat Panettone for breakfast every day – not just Christmas! I thought it was a wonderful treat.

“Vernacular architecture is so specific to its region in this part of the world. We spent our summers at my uncle’s house in the Valle Maggia, a steep granite valley whose stone has been used for generations to construct local buildings (including my uncle’s house) as well as furniture. A strong tradition of Ticinese architects has grown out of this vernacular, of which Mario Botta is one of the most famous. His chapel in Mogno near the top of the Valle Maggia is one of my favourite places.

“Here is a photograph of me aged ten at my uncle’s granite house.”

Kyle Wilson, Ohio USA

The cornfields of Ohio, United States of America

Kyle Wilson, Team Member

“The late, celebrated photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, once described Ohio as “… a good place to come from in that it was a good place to leave.” While I couldn’t agree more, I am grateful to have started my journey there. This midwestern state is known for its antiques, the Wright brothers and cornfields. Before moving to Australia, I spent most of my free time at my best mate Joe’s farm. Surrounded by cornfields and dense forests, it’s the epitome of small-town Ohio and a place where I could truly disconnect and enjoy the moment.

“This picture shows the farm, Joe, his truck that we worked on for hours on end, and his Australian shepherd, Chuck. Whether changing old oil filters, getting lost among the cornfields, or simply climbing a tree, that simple feeling of freedom and peace can be hard to achieve in our busy lives. My connection to this place reflects my connection to my roots, nature, hands-on work, and, of course, Australian shepherds.”

The Lake District, United Kingdom by Nick Bucktin

The Lake District, United Kingdom

Nick Bucktin, Senior Associate

“There is nowhere I would have rather spent the last two years of the pandemic than in Sydney’s Northern Beaches where I live with my family. Here, in our living room hangs a large photograph of the Langdale Valley, reminding me of another place very close to my heart, the Lake District in the North of England.

“I’m not a particularly spiritual person but I feel a deep connection to this region. I went there almost annually for holidays as a child. From my earliest memories I was enchanted by the scale and wild, mystical beauty of the landscape. The rocky hills and valleys are full of ancient stories, and the way it changes in colour and mood through the four seasons is quite spectacular. I love to imagine how the wind, ice and rain have eroded and shaped this landscape over millennia.

“It’s completely overrun with tourists most of the year, but the gaping valleys and the views from the hills are somehow not concerned by the crowds. I can’t wait to take my wife and kids back there and spend a week walking in the hills with my family in the UK.”

Bookpurnong The Murray River, South Australia by Karl Traeger

Bookpurnong, The Murray River, South Australia

Karl Traeger, Principal

“For me, there’s no place quite like this bend in the Murray River. The name Bookpurnong is derived from two Erawirung words: Bookani means ‘swimming place’ and Purnong means ‘wide-open space’.

“There are memories in the cliffs, in the billabong at the bend and in this tree (pictured). It is alive with my family history, stretching back to when my great-great-grandfather would fish and swim here with his mates. As a young boy, I would sometimes camp here with my grandfather, and he would tell me stories by the firelight of camping here with his father and hunting with his pet goannas.

“I like to think I can sense their presence and that the tree somehow stores remnants of their energy – mere moments in this tree’s long life. I see the rope swing and feel the freedom of my youth intertwined here, too.

“This Christmas break, I returned here after some time away. I witnessed my children reconnecting with our family stories, and I took in some of the energy that lingers in this place.”

Broadwater Parklands, Queensland by Ankita Saldana

Broadwater Parklands, the Gold Coast, Queensland

Ankita Sardana, Senior Team Member

“When we lived on the Gold Coast, the scent of the sea would drift onto our apartment balcony and, looking down, we could see the Broadwater Parklands, a place we visited often. It was my toddler son’s favourite park – a place he adoringly called ‘boat park’ because of the boats and yachts that crowded the marina along the Nerang River.

“As we walked through this linear park, different vistas and activities would reveal themselves slowly. As an architect, I couldn’t help but admire the way the park had been planned so coherently, how the adjacency of complementary activities would ensure children of different ages could stay close to their families. There were themed play areas for children, cycling paths, a jetty walk, fishing areas, rock pools, resting spaces, ball nets and flagged swimming areas. The park was brimming with nature, including fishponds, plants to attract bird life, garden beds for those seeking solace and a place to relax. Looking back, I often think of the Broadwater Parklands – how it was an oasis for our family, and how much I miss it.”

Sydney Australia by Vivian Sin

Sydney, Australia

Vivian Sin, Senior Associate

“After 18 months of lockdowns in London, moving to Sydney for a new role at Architectus, waiting in hotel quarantine, and arriving to a city still in lockdown, I am finally getting to know my new home of Sydney. And there is no place I would rather be.

“It was challenging moving across the world during a pandemic. For some time, we did not think it could happen, but then Australia’s vaccination rates began skyrocketing and the NSW government had a road map to freedom. Within two weeks, my bags were packed, and I was on a plane watching London fade away below me. I did not have enough time to visit some of my favourite places in the UK again before I had to leave, but I managed to bid farewell to dear friends, which was more important anyway.

“Now I am slowly discovering this wonderful city that is my new home and soaking in all the joy that comes with falling for a new place. Returning to the studio and meeting colleagues face-to-face has reaffirmed my sense of belonging. I couldn’t think of a better place to be at this moment than in Sydney, ready for all the personal transformation that comes when you upend your entire life. I am so excited for new adventures, warmer seasons, seeing all the beautiful places and meeting more lovely people in Australia.”


Sydney Australia by Vivian Sin
Thomas Dixon Centre achieves world-first WELL Certification™
Sydney Australia by Vivian Sin
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese officially opens Flinders University’s Health and Medical Research Building