While Perth’s Studio Roam chooses to stay consciously small in practice, its vision is big, and its joint ventures lead to even larger outcomes.
January 17th, 2023
Working across residential and hospitality Studio Roam is at the forefront of a new wave of architectural practice, where client/architect simpatico defines the balance: “We can be a bit more selective about what we do and don’t work on and how we how we see the future of the practice evolving,” says Olivia Maxwell, co-director of Studio Roam with Sally-Ann Weerts.
Having studied at university together before taking different paths in architectural practice each is adamant about where their interests lie. They are also adamant that their practice remains small: “We’re just the two of us. Intentionally. It means that we can be involved across all phases of our projects and have more impact in the day to day,” says Maxwell.
That’s not to say the practice is limited to small projects. Rather, Studio Roam works with a wide range of collaborators and specialists to match the needs of each project: “Because we’ve made a conscious decision to be small and remain small, we found other ways to secure those large commercial projects, through collaboration and joint ventures with other practices that are similarly aligned in their design focus.
“Design is not about one person’s vision. If you’re part of a design team, and it’s very, very collaborative, and you’re calling on everyone’s individual skill sets, you get the best outcomes,” says Maxwell, with Weerts adding: “It means that we get the opportunity to work with peers that we admire and respect in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t.”
Studio Roam’s most recently completed hospitality project, The Beaufort, is featured by large circular detailing. Comprising three separate venues that sit within one precinct, the project offered myriad opportunity to create different and distinct experiences.
“I think having fun in architecture is really important. It does largely depend on the client and project, but pushing the boundaries, I think, is something that we’re both interested in doing in our work,” says Maxwell.
Touching on modernist ideals of honesty of material and connection to nature, there is a sculptural quality to the studio’s work that delivers large gestures in their commercial work, and intimate tableaus in their residential projects. The pair’s most recent residential project has been for clients who are also both architects.
Here, the home has been crafted as a collaboration to ensure fidelity to the client’s own particular aesthetic and lifestyle: “There was so much playfulness and experimentation in the design process. Because the clients are architects themselves and have an appreciation for design, they were much more invested in being bold with ideas,” says Maxwell.
Based in Perth, the weather plays a role in the studio’s design in so far as connection to the landscape and how the interior and exterior work in harmony, is paramount, but as Maxwell notes, all architects will say that. More interestingly she notes that Roam Studio does have its own aesthetic language.
“We definitely do have a style and I don’t know how to put a finger on that because its evolved from our previous experiences and how we bounce off each other, but it’s definitely quirky and always just a little bit different,” she says.
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