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Regional design and the tactful art of rebuilding communities

Takt is designing architecture that is sustainable, sensitive and desirable. This studio is leading the way as a beating architectural heart in the regions and is in sync not only with the landscape but with the local communities who call it their home.

Regional design and the tactful art of rebuilding communities

(L-R): Brent Dunn, Katharina Hendel, Emma Gaal and Daniel Rivers.

The good news is that architecture and design is alive and thriving in our regions. Local communities are embracing architecture that is designed for their particular needs and requirements by architects who understand the nuances of creating for them.

Take the architectural practice Takt, for example. The studio was established some 16 years ago when, ahead of the trend, Katharina Hendel and Brent Dunn moved from Sydney to the South Coast of New South Wales for a sea-change. With a plethora of experience and knowledge between them, they created Takt for meaningful buildings that enhance life and explore the possibilities of site, light, material and sustainability.

Camp Yarrawa, photograph by Shantanu Starick.

On one hand, Dunn studied at the Universities of Queensland and Tasmania and received both a Bachelor of Design Studies and a Bachelor of Architecture. Honing his craft, he has worked on a multitude of projects that encompass residential, medium-scale public and large-scale commercial projects.

On the other, Hendel was educated in Germany receiving a Dipl.Ing.Arch from HTWK Leipzig. Her expertise is in a variety of areas that include residential and hospitality with a focus on urban design and the relationship between landscape, scale and detail. Together the two creatives complement each other and are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to design that is absolutely appropriate within their regional context.

Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.

The move for Hendel and Brent, partners in life as well as work, was a lifestyle change that would see them surrounded by bush and ocean but still close to the city. Projects for the fledgling practice were primarily residential but commissions increased and since 2019 there are two studios, one in Thirroul near Wollongong and the other in Moruya on the South Coast. The practice was not only designing for the community but was also a part of it. However, more change was ahead with natural disasters in their region, creating a shift in the focus of their work that continues to this day.

Hendel and Dunn have personal knowledge of the devastating 2019 New Year’s Eve fires in Cobargo, a town in the Bega Valley, and Lake Conjola situated on the South Coast of New South Wales. Their approach to the ruination was to literally work through the grief and become involved in the re-design and re-building of these communities. They had the skills and the experience from their many years in architectural practice: talking and listening to survivors, understanding needs, and exploring the types of facilities and amenities that would be required has given the pair a deeper understanding of the architecture that should be crafted for the future.

Related: More on the Regional Architecture Association

Cobargo Community Hall, perspective by Takt Studio.

Learning and growing through understanding, they have participated in community workshops, site analysis and risk assessments and investigated and contributed advice on the bushfire ratings – much of it in a voluntary capacity. To this end, Takt became involved with collecting ideas for the rebuilding process in the Conjola area which was later developed into a masterplan.

The practice works with and for councils and is recognised under the Government Architects Strategy and Design Pre-qualification Scheme that focuses on the delivery of strategic advice, design quality and innovation of the built environment.

While the majority of projects undertaken by Takt are still residential, there are other exciting projects ahead. The practice is integral to the Rebuild Cobargo Main Street projects and has also designed a community hall/disaster response centre for the village that may proceed at a later stage.

Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.

Receiving funding last year, the Rebuild Cobargo Main Street projects will see four sites each with distinct programs brought together by an overarching plan for the town centre, commercial, retail, tourist facilities, hospitality spaces, a new post office and market hall as well as the new Cobargo Bushfire Resilience Centre. Takt, including its team of Daniel Rivers, Emma Gaal and Ben Beattie, along with the initial assistance of SJB and now Dunn Hillam Architects (who have taken over further development of these sites), is making design contributions that will see a new town rise from the ashes.

Following on from the personal experiences that Hendel, Dunn and their staff and colleagues have encountered, the pair are also founding members of the Regional Architecture Association (RAA). The RAA was established in early 2021 with the goal to establish an independent member-focused association that could support architecture and influence the built environment in the regions and it’s doing just that through events in regional areas and advocating for community needs.

Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.

Hendel, Dunn and their team are making a difference to architecture and the communities in which they live and work. They are taking the idea of sustainable design to the next level and ensuring that their projects reflect all that they have learnt over the years as well as supporting the equilibrium of the land. It’s crafting a holistic solution to architecture in the regions for the local populace and doing it in style.

They are at the heart of architecture and home. From disaster comes new hope and Takt is helping to ensure that architecture is the catalyst that provides for a better life in the future.

Takt Studio

Ingvar Kenne, Shantanu Starick

Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.
Camp Yarrawa, photograph by Shantanu Starick.
Camp Yarrawa, photograph by Shantanu Starick.
Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.
Cloud Cottage, photograph by Ingvar Kenne.

We think you might like this story on Takt Studio in Regional Architects Association.

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