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DIY Architects: Sibling

Melbourne correspondent for indesignlive, Lieu Pham, delves into the world of recession architecture.

DIY Architects: Sibling


July 10th, 2009

Recessions elicit interesting responses from architects. In 1991, six architects experiencing the recession under Keating formed Six Degrees. These architects ‘made do’ by creating engaging spaces from found materials and clever manufacturing, even going so far as setting up a bar (Meyers Place) to fund their practice.

The current GFC has seen a drop in architecture jobs, causing a strain on recent graduates looking to start their career. Consultant Aimee Stephenson from Archistaff (the industry recruitment agency) reports that there are fewer junior roles, with positions are being filled by experienced architects making the task of looking for work even more formidable for graduates.

There are some exceptions. Recent graduate architects Amelia Borg, Jane Caught and Qianyi Lim are ‘Sibling’, a nascent group comprised of diverse backgrounds in visual communication, urbanism, and (landscape) architecture. They say they like to “…work from within and against the changing environment and approach the critical dimensions to each project through interdisciplinary formations.”

The studio was conceived in 2005 when most of the Sibling family eight (also including Timothy Moore, Nicholas Braun, Jessica Brent, and Jonathan Brener) were studying architecture and shared a studio at the Mitchell House on Elizabeth Street, sharing meal-, study- and even sleep- time together.

They work together on anything that catches their whim, like throwing regular music nights including the popular Bamboo Music and Trough Faggot parties. Borg says that “for each of those parties the members of Sibling like to be involved with altering the night club environment with installations and decorations”.

Although Borg, Lim and Caught feel the effects of the market to varying degrees, they still maintain positive and motivated. In fact they’ve found a niche in developing clever architectural solutions that are cost conscious, easy to build, flexible and engaging.

“Obviously these jobs are going to be to smaller budgets” says Borg candidly, “but it’s more about investigating an idea rather than the money.” Borg, like the other Siblings, wanted to break out of the typical architecture projects and pursue projects that adopted a more multidisciplinary approach. This has been realised in some current projects.

Curators Christopher LG Hill and Jams Deutscher have commissioned them design and build the door for Y 3 K a new Fitzroy gallery space being launched at the State of Design Festival.

Sibling has also been approached by Right Angle Publishing to design the first concept store by their sub-culture brand  ‘three thousand’ and they’ll also be creating some furniture for P.A.M.’s new retail shop.

The current job market may look bleak, but Siblings, like their architectural predecessor Six Degrees, have shown that creativity can flourish during a time of uncertainty. They are exemplars of a new breed of twenty somethings in architectural professionals that are following a trajectory that is more off kilter, personal fulfilling and eventually lucrative.


Words: Lieu Pham




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