Bigger Splash
Belle Magazine Australia|October 2019

Strong statements, authentic elementsand attention to small gestures brandthe imaginative projects by Richards & Spence.

Karen Mccartney

IT IS BENEFICIAL sometimes not to observe architecture but to be in the thick of it, to watch how it is used, experienced and enjoyed. Such was the setting for my interview with architects Adrian Spence and Ingrid Richards, partners in Brisbane-based Richards & Spence. We have lunch at Hellenika restaurant, on the edge of The Calile Hotel’s much Instagrammed pool where a photo shoot is in progress with members of the Queensland Ballet in artfully drenched dresses. It is winter, but this is Brisbane. Indeed, the climate and the landscape play significant roles in how Richards & Spence approach their work, responding to the context and peculiarities of every commission. “I learned early in my career, through working with Timothy Hill, not to be too singleminded and hold onto an idea too tightly, but to embrace the circumstantial, the shifts and changes in a project, and see them as opportunities,” says Adrian.

Both studied architecture at the University of Queensland. “It was a distinctive way of teaching, and the gods were Alvar Aalto and Rudolph Schindler. We learned – even if you didn’t adopt the prevailing style – that there was always a place to start, a way to approach a project,” says Ingrid. Adrian points to their first large retail commission, 19 James Street in Fortitude Valley, where the client expressly warned them not to try to be award-winning – and where the existing mature palm trees became the driving idea.

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