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Give a little, get a lot – Matthews Architects

Matthews Architects, run by managing director and senior architect Gerald Matthews, delivers projects that give back to the community. Caelan Kaluder reports.

Give a little, get a lot –  Matthews Architects

Gerald Matthews, courtesy of Matthews Architects.

We recently caught up with Matthews Architects’ managing director and senior architect, Gerald Matthews, and took a deep dive into the firm’s history. Guided by Gerald’s leadership over the past two decades, the firm has led the revitalisation of numerous educational precincts, including the University to Adelaide, Golden Grove Primary School, and most recently Ngutu College.

On the practice of architecture, Gerald says, “We’ve always been a firm that believes that diversity of experience is valuable. This applies to our team as well as our portfolio. We have developed capabilities that make us equally comfortable in the world of commercial architecture, as well as learning environments, homes and places of healing and care,” he says.

“The most fundamental premise of architecture is the belief that spaces affect people. So, in architecture, there is always an underlying pursuit of designing spaces that enhance human experiences. For us, achieving this isn’t about removing constraints, it’s about understanding and responding to them. For every project, financial constraints are just as real as gravity. It is only with a clear understanding of every constraint that design can fully succeed,” Gerald says.

Matthews Architects
Ngutu College gardens, courtesy of Matthews Architects.

Growing up in a household that always had a drawing board on hand provided “fertile ground” for Gerald to discover his love for design. “As a little kid, even in school, I was always pulling things apart and tinkering to see how things work. I wanted to go beneath the surface of everything, and so studying architecture was a logical step.”

Studying in the field of architecture led Gerald to join Matthews Architects and studios across the globe. It brings to light that language of design and architecture, while different in every sphere of interpretation, translates to the same goals and impacts universally. And eventually, Gerald was drawn back to the South Australian firm and fittingly took over Matthew Architects in line with the succession plan.

Matthews Architects
Ngutu College dance studio, courtesy of Matthews Architects.

As a graduate, he came to appreciate the fundamentals of architecture through a private home renovation. “As a young graduate architect at the time, going through this house’s [diverse project] team taught me so much about the ability of craftspeople. Between the skilled tradespeople to carpenters, stonemasons and builders, they taught me a whole set of knowledge and skillsets, and in a way, of thinking about design.”

Now guided by Gerald, Matthews Architects doesn’t have a ‘house style’ but instead promotes the best from every designer in the team. The studio’s mission is to tackle projects that it deems vital for society and community; projects that make their surrounding environment a better place.

Design process always begins with the client relationship. “That close relationship with clients is neither a service nor a product. It is the strength of the relationship that is where all of the gold is founded, in terms of design opportunity and the licence to work together to do something special,” says Gerald.

Matthews Architects
Ngutu College, courtesy of Matthews Architects.

Now with more than 12 years spent at the helm of Matthews Architects, Gerald has firmly established the value the studio places on its partnerships with clients, and on the depth of professional development it provides its team.

Stay tuned for next week’s piece on Matthews Architects’ Ngutu College project.

Matthews Architects

While you wait for the Ngutu College project, we think you might like this article about SJB’s multi-purpose shed for the traditional elders of the Nyul Nyul Community.

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