Balancing creativity and practicality
Andrea Bell of Auckland-based studio bell + co architecture chats with Amelia Melbourne-Hayward about starting her own practice and the attributes needed to be a successful architect.
Amelia Melbourne-Hayward: Have you always wanted to work in the profession?
Andrea Bell: I studied art at high school and I was really drawn to the work of the Cubists and the art and architecture of the De Stijl period. When I was around 15, I came across the Rietveld Schröder House, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in the 1920s. The house really blew my mind at how contemporary it was for that period. From then on, I took subjects that meant I would be able to take architecture and studied towards that.
I did a New Zealand Certificate in Architectural Drafting first and then went on to do an architecture degree at Unitec. My class graduated in 1999, it was a unique position to be in as we were in the first year through the school; it was an exciting time. There was a lot of energy focused on us and a lot to prove.
AMH: What are some of the most enjoyable aspects of working as an architect?
AB: I love the variety – every day and every project is different. I get to deal with a range of different people: clients, contractors, consultants, etc. I also really enjoy the fact that at the same time as using your creative side, the practical aspects also have to come in. Questions such as ‘how do we actually physically build this’ need to be answered. That interaction with the clients, consultants and contractors to imagine, articulate and then construct a conceptual idea is an incredibly exciting process.