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When rugby and architecture collide

Wallabies player and Cox architect Alastair Baxter tells Gemma Battenbough why rugby and architecture are two halves of the same game.

When rugby and architecture collide


September 1st, 2010

Most architects struggle to find the time to weed the garden and polish their specs, let alone play professional rugby and update a blog. But Alastair Baxter manages to keep a foot in two worlds.

Baxter is a Graduate Architect at Cox Architecture specialising in stadium design along with being Australia’s most capped Wallaby prop.

“I have two very understanding employers, but you’ve got to be efficient in both areas to make it work,” he told Indesignlive.com.

His employers may give him flexibility during training times, but having a dual perspective certainly comes with a benefit for business too.

“I do have a unique perspective. I’ve been bother a player and a spectator. I’ve had a wide range of experience in what works and what doesn’t. It gives me an advantage in architecture in terms of mechanics and logistics; I have a good grasp on what makes a great experience and fantastic atmosphere.”

alastair baxter

But Baxter is not a lone architect among sportsmen. Justin Madden, who played AFL for Essendon and Carlton in the 80s and 90s, Sean Godsell, who played for St Kilda and Scott Radecic, an NFL linebacker in the 80s and 90s, who now works for stadium specialists Populus, are just a few of the ball tossing designers out there.

The experience of playing in a team can be a tremendous working benefit and a real parallel between rugby and architecture, Baxter said.

“Almost all architecture involves teams. Large jobs, such as stadiums, always involve close cooperation and, for me, that’s one way in which rugby is definitely an advantage.”

Baxter was recently approached by Stephen Fry and Andrew Sampson’s digital production company SamFry to create a blog on which his architecture and rugby experiences converge. The blog is a forum for Baxter’s views on everything from the world’s best stadiums to sustainability.

“They had read an article quoting me in the Sydney Morning Herald and they approached me about writing a blog about architecture.”

While travelling with rugby introduces Baxter to many high profile people, this is not where the real business benefits come from.

“You do get to meet some extraordinary and amazing people through rugby and that can help get a foot in the door. But there’s not huge advantage in the corporate world except for helping to build a rapport … But, in any profession, having some other passion can be really healthy because it gives you a bit of mental release. Architecture can be all encompassing and having relief both mental and physically is good for you, but it can also inform design.”

Alastair Baxter

Cox Architecture


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