01/08/2018 - 06:19

Architectus has designs on Perth

01/08/2018 - 06:19


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Western Australia’s improving economic outlook was a driving factor behind the decision by national design firm Architectus to open a Perth office, headed by former Woods Bagot executive Mark Mitcheson-Low.

Architectus has designs on Perth
Mark Mitcheson-Low says the Perth branch will largely target work in the residential and transport sectors. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Western Australia’s improving economic outlook was a driving factor behind the decision by national design firm Architectus to open a Perth office, headed by former Woods Bagot executive Mark Mitcheson-Low.

The 32-year-old practice specialises in architecture, interior architecture, urban design and planning, with more than 350 staff spread across Australia at studios in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, as well as in Auckland and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Within the next 18 months Architectus plans to recruit between 20 and 30 people for its new WA operation, which it says will be located on St Georges Terrace.

Mr Mitcheson-Low, previously global development officer for Woods Bagot’s WA operations, will lead the firm’s Perth studio development as managing principal, alongside former JCY director Paul Jones.

“The market won’t stay in the doldrums forever; we’re at the bottom of the cycle and it’s about to pick up so this is the perfect time to set up a new entity in the market for that upswing,” Mr Mitcheson-Low told Business News.

“What really excites me is Architectus is on a growth trajectory based on a platform of good quality work, good management and a great collaborative culture within the business; already I’m working with east coast studios on potential projects both there and here.

“We know there are lots of potential sites coming up in the city because of things like the relocation of the children’s hospital, the new stadium, and we’ve seen investors buying land or amalgamating sites and just sitting on it.

“That’s going to offer up huge opportunities for development in the future.

“And when the market changes, we’ll be prepared to take on those projects.”

Mr Mitcheson-Low said the need to service its existing client base in WA was another motivation for establishing a Perth studio, having strong ties nationally to developers such as Brookfield, Lendlease and Mirvac. 

Past WA projects include Stockland’s residential development ‘Islands’ at South Beach, and The Esplanade, located on the site of the former Steve’s Hotel in Nedlands.

Architectus has also worked on Lendlease’s proposed Waterbank mixed-use precinct.

Architectus’ managing director Ray Brown said that, like all Australian cities, Perth was rapidly embracing higher density living with all the benefits of engaging, active and walkable town centres, supported on a local level by projects such as Metronet.

“We are looking forward to contributing to these transformative, city-making projects across the rail, urban design and planning, and mixed-use sectors,” he said. 

Mr Mitcheson-Low said the Perth studio would continue to service the residential sector, as well as target transport-oriented projects, with Architectus currently working on the Melbourne Metro Alliance.

The regeneration of Perth Airport and the state government’s Metronet rollout could provide potential opportunities, he said.

The firm’s strengths extend to the education sector, with its work on the Macquarie University Incubator winning the top award for Educational Architecture at the Australian Institute of Architects NSW 2018 awards, skills Mr Mitcheson-Low plans to leverage for the Perth studio.

Architectus has always had to team up with a local studio anyway, because you’ve got to submit to local authority approvals, you’ve got to have knowledge on the city and be able to track local talent,” Mr Mitcheson-Low said.

“I think that’s the important part of this – talent will have another outlet rather than going to the east coast.

“To me, Architectus is the up and coming. My role has always been about building things – large projects, studios, regions – I relish in that, and when this role became available it just reminded me of that can-do attitude of building businesses, which is what I love.”


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