For Nic Brunsdon, winning both the National Emerging Architect Prize and the Dulux Study Tour on the same night earlier this year was “a ridiculous honour”.
Awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects at the annual Australian Achievement in Architecture Awards in March, both wins signify Brunsdon’s outstanding achievement as an emerging architect.
But plaudits aren’t what drives this down-to-earth architect, who has come a long way for someone accused by his mum of being too lazy to look past ‘A’ when selecting a course of study.
After graduating with honours from a Bachelor of Applied Science (Architectural Science) at Curtin, Brunsdon spent some time working in small architecture firms before heading overseas to work as a designer for a prefabricated building manufacturer in the Middle East – a move he admits was a “complete bust.”
“I moved there in 2007 and lasted a year,” Brunsdon says. “However, it very quickly taught me all the things I wasn’t looking for in a career and got me back on track quick fast. Without it, I could have still been wafting around doing god knows what.”
Leaving that job was obviously the right choice for Brunsdon, who now owns and runs two successful design businesses in Perth.
Brunsdon describes Spacemarket as “broad, thin and democratic”. At its essence, it is a not-for-profit matchmaking initiative for small businesses in need of a space and real estate owners looking to rent. The concept won the WA Heritage Council’s Outstanding Newcomer: Professor David Dolan Award in 2012, just a year after its launch.
Contrastingly, POST- is a more typically structured design practice, or as Brunsdon puts it, “specific and autocratic”. With its roots in new urbanism and industrial design, POST- focuses on activating vacant spaces while celebrating the existing character and history of the structure. The MANY 6160 project is an iconic example of this, a conversion of the old Myer department store in Fremantle to a thriving hub of pop-up retail and open-plan workspaces for local artists, makers and creators. The repurposed Moana Chambers on Hay Street again pays homage to this way of thinking, and was commended in 2014 at the WA Architecture Awards for this approach.
Together, the two businesses allow Brunsdon to embrace his ethical side while demonstrating the value that design can generate for a community, which in turn creates a satisfaction in his work that no award can match.
“If you take care of today, tomorrow looks after itself,” Brunsdon philosophises. “I try to stay grounded and make good decisions in the moment. Having a strong ethical register and not settling for less helps me in the creation of contentment in the present and health in the future.”
Noble words, and something worth musing as you next wander the streets of Perth and see with new eyes the spaces in which we live.
The Dulux Study Tour, run by the Australian Institute of Architects and Dulux Australia, is a coveted program that inspires and fosters Australia’s next generation of emerging architectural talent. The National Emerging Architect Prize is awarded annually by the Australian Institute of Architects and honours outstanding individuals who are at the beginning of their careers.
Name: Nic Brunsdon
Studied: Bachelor of Applied Science (Architectural Science)(Hons)
Area of study: Humanities