John Tuxworth, Engineer , Built Environment Collective

It is no good asking a perfectionist such a question – I’d never think of a satisfactory answer ...

Raising awareness of the plight of displaced peoples in a disaster and creating a dialogue between the architecture industry and the public, John Tuxworth is one of the engineers behind the Emergency Shelter Exhibition. Showing in King George Square from July 17– 20, the Emergency Shelter Exhibition features life-size, stylised emergency shelter prototypes that could be built without steel labour and using readily available materials in a post-disaster scenario. The plastic Gabion walls of John’s Modulo Shelter can be filled with rubble, brick, timber and plastic bottles for stability and insulation, with solar inflatable roofing and glow stick lighting. Creating comfort out of chaos, the adaptability and security of this shelter gives the maker a sense of place and belonging, purpose and identity – all vital ingredients to recovery. The exhibition helps generate donations for the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal – supporting communities affected by natural disasters around the world. The Weekend Edition caught up with John to chat weekends before the Brisbane leg of this roaming exhibition.

How do you like to start your weekend?
With homemade pizzas! My lovely wife makes a mean pesto – picking the nib off the each pine nut by hand.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
My favourite thing on a Saturday morning is taking my two-year-old daughter to her swimming lessons at Centenary Pool. The kid’s pool is something like 29 degrees during winter – awesome!

How do you like to unwind?
Definitely a movie – I get an annual membership for Palace Cinemas each year for my birthday.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Family and catching up on sleep.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
The revamped Queensland Museum. QUT’s School of Design relocated an excellent exhibition of student work there recently, and my daughter loves the dinosaurs.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
An early dinner in Chinatown or a movie at Palace Centro, Fortitude Valley.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
Some family time at our place at Burleigh.

What are you reading at the moment?
I have just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy. It is really just one novel sold in three parts. It starts as a bit of fluff perfect for the big screen (I haven’t seen the movie yet), but I kid you not, the ending is the best I have come across for a long time. Authors seem to struggle to write endings with a good conclusion and climax these days for some reason.

What inspires you?
Ahhh – without a doubt architecture, interior and furniture design, and more recently the use of multimedia as an expressive art form.

What was your childhood dream?
To be a pilot – because I didn’t realise how much ‘street-cred’ firefighters had until I started dating.

What has been your greatest achievement?
Last millennium it was being one of the youngest engineers to pass the UK’s Institute of Structural Engineers Part 3 exam. In 1999 it was a 7.5 hour exam with a 64% failure rate. In this millennium – it is without a doubt my wonderful daughter, Suki.

What is success to you?
It is no good asking a perfectionist such a question – I’d never think of a satisfactory answer.

What are your words of wisdom?
Architects are significantly responsible for shaping social paradigms relating to what we build, and how we use the built environment. We need change in how we use finite resources, so come on – get a wriggle on you lot!

Only a local would know you can take the pedestrian tunnel from Anzac Square and catch the lift up to Wickham Terrace via James Birrell’s fantastic carpark.

Perk up …
When I get the chance sometime I’d be happy to let you know.
Relax … Roma St Parklands
Dine … Yum Cha at China House, Fortitude Valley
Indulge … Euro Restaurant, Brisbane City
Shop … We just walk down to the Queen St Mall
Catch-up … (see relax)
Be inspired … GOMA, South Bank


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