Hamilton’s local talent

Hamilton’s local talent add

Brace yourself if you’re going to ask Liam McGarry his thoughts on New Zealand’s design style… the 24-year-old Architectural Graduate has more than 20,000 words to offer on the subject.

Thesis aside, if you are going to pin him down on the matter, what he finds exciting is architecture that is created using New Zealand methods and works for the people.

"Aspects of our built environment can be expressed as 'a New Zealand style' but I don't believe that we as architects should be trying to develop one. A style is a target or a benchmark which I think reduces design innovation. The beauty of being in New Zealand is that we're a young country that's constantly developing and responding to global issues. We don't have 2000 years of building history to draw on but that also means we don't have to be confined by style," Liam says.

As part of his studies, Liam took on the public domain of Queenstown, originally proposing a new library and civic centre; instead he chose to design a series of public walkways.

"I was more interested in what happens around the built structures. The focus was more about the connections with the existing urban fabric, rather than trying to resolve complex urban issues with a single building - I design for active spaces rather than installed form."

Liam grew up in Dunedin. His first trip to the North Island was moving to Wellington to study Architecture at Victoria University. Toward the end of his study he heard ADNZ Member, Tane Cox of Red Architecture was hiring.

"I'd only swung through Hamilton once before and wanted to find out what it was actually like. A good friend of mine Joe was working for Tane, which is how I got in contact with him. I had seen some of Tane's work and it was very in tune with mine, so when I checked out the studio and got a feel for the place I thought this was somewhere I could see myself. So before I knew it, I'd unpacked my stuff and I was up here drawing houses."

Liam only has good things to say about Hamilton.

"I think there's some really cool people here and there's plenty of opportunity as well.
I’ve got a lot of faith in the place. There are quite a few creative people around who are contributing to the urban fabric and how the city functions. That's kind of why I like being here, as I feel like I've got a bit of a role to play."

Having been full-time on the job since April, Liam has been working on a broad range of projects.

I've worked on about a few houses and we have a pretty good range of clients and projects at different stages. I've been able to work directly with clients and also had the opportunity to come up with design solutions to some problems which have been taken on board, which is rewarding. The way Tane works and his general approach has meant I've had a broad range of things to do and I've also had a degree of freedom to work creatively and in my own way, which I have appreciated."

While Liam's long term goal is to travel the world, catch up with friends and see how other's live, right now he's happy in Hamilton.

"There's a nice pace to it and there’s a fair bit of investment going on so we're pretty
busy. Yeah, I'll be here for a while yet."