Greg Young has been involved in the design industry for more than 20 years, with 15 of those spent as an architectural designer.
"I originally started my career in structural engineering and studied architecture at the same time as work in design was scarce. I managed to secure a job as a structural draughtsman and spent five years in this role before finally getting my opportunity to become a designer. Thankfully, it was a fantastic building block to my career and has given me solid insight and grounding in construction."
Greg's award winning design practice Life Style Architecture now has five staff and has designed for clients' in New Zealand and abroad in Australia and Fiji.
Only about ten per cent of Life Style Architecture's work is in the commercial sector, however Greg says when the right project comes along; he relishes the opportunity to work through the challenges that are often only associated with commercial design.
"One of the most exciting things about commercial design is the scale. It is so different to residential design and it requires quite a different set of skills. There is also a tonne of variety; however the greatest challenge and focus is ultimately about improving people's lives. The majority of people probably spend more waking hours at work than at home, this means the space has to enrich people's lives - it has to be functional, efficient and the environment has to encourage positivity. People produce better results when they are happy."
Greg says there are two key considerations he applies to any commercial build. First he asks who the client is and what they do - for example is it owner occupied or will it be leased. Second, if leased what are the neighbouring businesses up to - what is the feel of the area and who will likely rent the space.
The office Life Style entered into the 2013 ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards was perfectly suited to the structural engineer owner. The brutal exterior with its oversized steelwork and corten steel panels gives a gritty aesthetic, while its soft, warm interior ensures a pleasurable working environment.
"Unfortunately not all commercial buildings can be purpose built for the business; a lot of commercial buildings in New Zealand are built to lease. This means often one of the most important factors for the owners is getting a return on the investment. Office spaces which provide everything from parks, to golf courses to sleeping pods, are few and far between in New Zealand. The onus is really on the city to provide an environment that people want to work in. More often, as a designer we have to balance designing a building that will inevitably get a good return with one that will be an enjoyable place to work - however they do not have to be exclusive."
So, what would be Greg's dream commercial project?
“I would like to take on the design of a Greenfield's business park. My goal would be to bring a holistic approach to the design - taking into account how the environment could accentuate the building. I think it would be a fantastic challenge. Luckily, there is still plenty of time to make it a reality!"