Amrita Mahindroo‘s interview with the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne reflects on her work leading to the creation of DROO which has been been recognised for its innovation and creativity, most recently winning the Architecture Master Prize 2020 in the Residential Multi-Unit category.
“The most important thing at DROO is that we are constantly unlearning our biases of what constitutes good design. We can’t really separate what we do from our responsibilities to respond to the changing world, climate, social needs and implications around us. Our work is in constant dialogue with the future city and the history of our cities.
Our society is premised on this need for moving in a direction and for the better part of the 20th and early 21st century this has been based on ‘more’. For the past decade we have been seeking answers on how to grow in a more cyclical way, by building and reinventing what we have, addressing typology, spatial organisation, modes of construction, the environment and inclusive design to continue evolving intelligently with what we have.
Our approach always layers strands of the past, present, and future into contemporary spaces and architectural tectonics. The existing fabric of a city is constantly developed upon, which means the role of the architect represents only a short moment in a longer history of a building, and, importantly, its future.
Our work is informed by an over-arching philosophy to lengthen the life of existing structures by giving them the opportunity to evolve to future uses and audiences. We continue to work in conservation, not as historic architects but as contemporary architects trying to create new chapters in the life of existing buildings and developing them like strata in dialogue with their past and their future.
Our works remain open to future generations to continue writing them. Friction is a really powerful force in design, and cities are the hotbed of this friction. Urban environments are complex, multi-layered and often confront you with the unexpected. Cities are perhaps the last beacon of the ‘unpredictable’ where your encounters are still left to chance.
Some of our most creative work comes from the most constrained urban contexts where we were confronted with the greatest challenges; site constraints, light, sound, economics, social differences, history, future, parallel ambitions. In short friction has been essential to our most creative output.”