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Timeless Design that Doesn’t Shout

indesignlive’s Melbourne correspondent, Marg Hearn, met Stephen Javens from BURO Architecture to find out a bit more about the boutique firm.

Timeless Design that Doesn’t Shout


June 3rd, 2008

A mutual interest in simple design brought Paul von Chrismar and Stephen Javens together to form BURO Architecture and Interiors in 2000. They were later joined by Glen Chamberlain who is also a partner of the now medium size practice of 20 staff.

BURO’s work across residential, hospitality and smaller scale commercial is typified by a considered, well-resolved approach and the knack of appearing uncomplicated. This design philosophy is explored through “good planning, good circulation and the use of natural materials,” says Javens, and is reinforced through a number of key ideas.

While committed to sustainability – the practice prefers an ‘embedded environmental design’ tact rather than one with bells and whistles. “A project doesn’t need to look like a flying saucer to be an ESD project,” Javens contests.

The principles of ‘more with less’ and ‘textured minimalism’ also apply.
“It’s about minimising the palette in projects and looking at the expressive potential of materials. We always look to take things out of our projects such as extra corners and planning dog legs.”

To simplify planning – fewer material types are specified along with a natural palette so that the colours in the materials can be expressed.
Committed modernists with a passion for Scandinavian modernism, the practice adheres to the notion that “old ideas aren’t necessarily bad ideas,” says Javens, adding, “glass box designs with flat roofs aren’t always the right solution, sometimes it’s about something that’s a bit more responsive than that.”

Interestingly, their work in hospitality informs their residential designs which Javens likens to having a ‘boutique hotel’ feel – in the quest to provide a sense of calm for people and a refuge from modern life.

Again drawing a parallel to Scandinavian architecture in the way it’s modernist but refers back to its own vernacular in scale and material use, BURO look to apply their concept of ‘Australian minimalism’ which embraces the use of traditional forms in Australian architecture that still very much hold currency.

BURO Architecture and Interiors



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