Take 5: Shannon Battisson

Take 5 Shannon Battisson portrait
ACT President of the Australian Institute of Architects Shannon Battisson believes architect-designed homes should be broadly available to the community. Photo Kerrie Brewer.

Shannon Battisson is the new ACT President of the Australian Institute of Architects and Director of The Mill Architecture + Design. Battisson believes architect-designed homes should be broadly available to the community and during her presidency will focus on priorities for Canberra such as building regulations, development of inner city areas, and the quality of new housing across the city.

Why should people enlist an architect?

I read an article once about the difference between asking your architect for a timber deck, 6m x 6m, with a door directly from your kitchen, and telling them you want to be able to eat at a table surrounded by nature, and the difference in the journey you go on with your architect because of it. It really summed up the power of the journey architects go on with their clients, to define their brief, break it down to how they really want to live, and then test the different ways of achieving that, with the result being something so deeply personal and special to the people who get to call it home.

What is your favourite building and why?

It depends on the context, and the scale, but one of my favourites is Peter Zumthor’s St Benedictine Chapel in Sumvitg, Switzerland. It is one of the most incredibly delightful spaces I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. It is small, and reverent, and I could have sat in the chapel and listened to the snow fall outside for hours.

What is your favourite architectural style and why?

I’m a bit of a die-hard modernist, and I just can’t go past the beautiful mid-century modern architecture around the world. I find myself seeking it out as I travel.

We are seeing, and loving, a push towards smaller but better built. A desire to work out what is essential instead of just what the latest real estate trend is.

Where do you see the future of architecture heading?

I think … we are going to see a much greater push from the everyday person for a dramatic increase in the quality of our built environment. And the fact of the matter is that architects have a vital role to play in providing not just beautiful, but also quality buildings in our country, be they an individual house or a large commercial building.

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