Designer Profile – Brent Alexander

Designer Profile – Brent Alexander add

ADNZ members are diverse in their experiences, with many having worked in a number of different fields before embarking on a career in architectural design.

This week, Defign sat down with ADNZ member Brent Alexander to hear all about his design journey.

Brent has always had a creative streak - he's dabbled in building, drawing, and even music.

"I was part of a band called the Netherworld Dancing Toys - we travelled the country playing rock 'n roll after leaving school, and won the equivalent of five Tui awards. Music was a way for me to show my creative side - something I'm now doing through my design work. I've noticed with other ADNZ members as well, that we all have such unique and diverse backgrounds, with many of us starting out in other creative careers before we discover design. The diversity of membership really appeals to me."

He also had a passion for building and making things which led him to consider two career choices (apart from being a rock star) - to be a builder, or to be an architectural designer. He chose both - first he gave building a go.

Brent initially worked for a builder for a few years, before deciding to study Architectural Draughting at Otago Polytech when he was 25.

"Having that building background was a huge advantage because I found it so much easier to figure it all out, and visualise the concepts we were learning about."

He eventually went on to set up his own practice in Dunedin in 1995 - The Design Studio. He was a sole practitioner for only a short time before expanding the business to a staff of six. Brent and the team work on a variety of mid-high end projects, from new homes and alterations through to apartments, office re-fits, cafes and commercial buildings. Their work is split 50/50 between commercial and residential projects, but Brent says he's seeing an increase in their commercial workload.

Brent's favourite kinds of projects to work on are the ones that really challenge him. In particular, new multi-level homes on sloping sites - of which there is no shortage in Dunedin.

"We love this kind of project because of the complexities involved. The challenge is getting everything in the right place and fitting in with the inevitable constraints - height planes, yard clearances, budgets etc. The best projects are the ones where you've got lots of limitations because they make you work really hard to achieve the best result."

Brent says good design should enhance people's experience, and his design philosophy is all about keeping things functional and affordable.

"How a building looks is only 10% of the whole design process so the challenge is to create something that not only works for its users but also looks great. Good design has the ability to transform and enrich people's lives and that's what we try to achieve on every project."

Brent has only been a member of ADNZ since early 2013, but has already picked up several regional ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards, along with a national award for his work on Heritage View Townhouses, something he's particularly proud of.

"I had been in business over 18 years before joining ADNZ and membership has been great for my personal and professional development. I have met some awesome people who have both humbled me and inspired me to achieve greater things - I never thought I would win a national design award - it has been very satisfying."

Brent says the team at The Design Studio have a number of interesting projects in the pipeline, including new homes around Dunedin, a large office fit-out and a major bar refit.

"It was great to win a national design award in 2014, so the challenge now is to do it again in 2015 and beyond."

Check out some photos of Brent's work above, or take a look at his profile on the ADNZ website.