This Northern Rivers-based studio has a varied portfolio and a strong emphasis on community involvement.
June 19th, 2012
After 10 years working in Sydney – 8 of those under the tutelage of renowned architect Bruce Rickard – Dominic Finlay-Jones decided to head north to Bangalow.
Designing a major project in the area was the catalyst for the move, but Finlay-Jones relished the opportunity to start up his own practice in a completely new environment, embracing a new way of life.
“It’s a totally different way of working,” he explains of the Northern Rivers.
“The sites we get are naturally beautiful; but with that comes a lot of environmental restraint. The amount of reports we have to do on frog habitats, koala management – we’re doing a housing project at the moment which includes about 1000sqm of frog habitat. [That] just becomes part of it.
“The other side of [working in the region], which I see as a big positive, is the relationship we have with other people in the community, whether they be builders, fabricators, other designers, even clients.
“There’s something about the pace and and the space of regional life and practice where you just have an ability to work much closer [with the community]. And I really do see architecture as a collaborative process – that’s the bit I love.”
An ever-eclectic portfolio has kept the small practice busy. Among the studio’s current projects is a pre-fabricated painter’s studio, a mixed-use village in Byron Bay exploring the balance between home and work, and a community project, a pool for Bangalow.
“I always have one project on the books that’s more about community than, I guess, running a business,” says Finlay-Jones.
A fit-out for the offices of Community Engine, which gave a physical presence to an online initiative, is one such example.
“It’s all about providing a space for communities to come together; [Community Engine] are providing that online but also in the physical way as well.”
The practice has also just come on board for a $5 million upgrade of Lismore City Hall in association with Brisbane’s Phillips Smith Conwell Architects.
Finlay-Jones plans to keep his practice small – no more than 5 or 6 people – and balance commercial and community work with his first love, houses.
“After working with Bruce [Rickard] you see the power of a really beautiful house and how it can affect someone’s life,” he explains.
“[Rickard] had a real respect for space and material, which has just stuck with me.
“There were no tricks; it wasn’t about products, it wasn’t about fashion; it was about the quality of space and the quality of certain materials and about construction. He was obsessed with how things were put together, and that’s really rubbed off on me too.”
Dominic Finlay Jones Architects
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