Adrian Spence, architect, Richards & Spence

Change must start with governance ...

An airport terminal sets the tone for a city. It is the arrival and departure point for local and international travellers, and if not pleasing can influence a persons opinion of a city quite dramatically. It can leave either a lasting positive impression or a bad memory. Luckily for Brisbane, the architect behind the design of the newly refurbished International Terminal at the Brisbane Airport is Adrian Spence, one half of the successful architect practice Richards and Spence – a firm he runs with his partner Ingrid Richards. Prior to founding Richards and Spence in 2008, Adrian spent time honing his craft and winning awards in some of Brisbane’s finest architecture firms with the likes of Bligh Voller Nield and Donovan Hill Architects. Richards and Spence are currently working on a number of inner city mixed use developments including the 179 room James Street Hotel starting development mid 2016. Recent examples of their built work include 19 James Street in Fortitude Valley, The Survey Company in Burnett Lane, Brisbane CBD, and the Gasworks Market fit-out in Newstead.

You’re helping shape the precinct of James Street with your distinct style of architecture. What inspired you to take this direction?
In the absence a of a distinct local civic architectural precedent, we look to other hot weather countries like South America with a legacy of masonry building to inform our work.

You do a mixture of residential, retail and commercial spaces. What are your favourite projects to work on and why?
We like to design buildings that we can use as citizens of the city. Retail and commercial projects have the potential to contribute to the public realm.

Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Travel is an important influence on our work. We travel extensively. I have a particular interest in other colonial cities and the circumstantial influence of climate and place on Architectural styles.

What are some of your challenges you face as an architect in Brisbane? And, how do you overcome these?
Town planning. Tenacity.

You’ve recently designed the International Terminal at Brisbane Airport? How did this come about and how did you feel when you were offered the project?
Although the airport is privately owned, it is perceived by the people of Brisbane as a public space.  We tried to make a civic space that both locals and visitors could identify with Brisbane.

We hear your working on the James Street Hotel. How do you think this will add the the precinct? What will be unique about it?
Despite our beautiful weather, there are no resort style hotels in our city. For this project, we looked to cities like Miami to create an urban resort.

In your opinion what makes a community?
The circumstantial social interaction of our daily routine.

We consider you a changemaker for our city – as we believe you are helping create unique spaces that we as locals inhabit. Do you think you have created change in Brisbane?
As architects our scope to influence change is limited. We see ourselves more as custodians of our built environment. Our responsibility is to make buildings that are unselfconscious and contribute to an existing and future context.

Who would you recommend as a changemaker in Brisbane?
Change must start with governance. The best example of this is the change liquor licencing laws have had on the Brisbane hospitality scene.

What is your hope for the future of Brisbane?
Greater diversity.

What’s a question you would love to be asked in an interview and what is your answer?
What would career would you have chosen if you were not an architect? A. Professional polo player.

Favourite meal? Roast Pork.
Favourite author?
Bret Easton Ellis.
Favourite musician? Whitney Houston.
Favourite architect?
Louis Kahn.
Favourite location? Capri.
Your idea of misery?
No windows.
Your idea of happiness?
Long lunches.

This interview is part of the City ChangeMakers presented by The Weekend Edition – a series about the people who have helped shape and change Brisbane for the better.


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