Strong Foundations: Q&A with Michael Lumby
We talk all things architecture with Michael Lumby
TEXT Julia Freemantle PHOTOGRAPHS Superbalist/Karl Rogers and Bureaux
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ARCHITECTURE?
Initially, I wanted to get into car design, so I started out studying mechanical engineering. Finding that a bit abstract, I switched to structural engineering along the way and, upon completion, diversified into architecture for its creative quotient.
DO YOU HAVE A SIGNATURE STYLE?
Style is a difficult thing to define. Every project should be a unique rationalisation of the various factors presented in that case: from contextual and programmatic to financial and material. That said, my mission on approaching each project is to create something practical, beautiful and spatially memorable. As a rule I try to use simple construction methods and standard materials in inventive ways. Ideally, designs should not only last but also get better over time. A building should look its worst at handover, and its best in 50 years’ time. Finishes and materials should require minimal maintenance and age well.
IS SUSTAINABILITY A FACTOR IN YOUR DESIGN APPROACH?
Definitely, although we should really just be calling it “common sense” by now. Apart from the obvious – optimising sun angles, good insulation, solar power and rainwater harvesting – I try to use sustainable principles for the benefit of the aesthetic and atmosphere of spaces, too. This can take the form of limiting glazing to smaller framed views, for example, to improve a building’s thermal mass as well as its sculptural quality. Or using functional details like sun-shading screens or natural-ventilation louvres to add an extra layer of detail to a facade.
WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
Any project that has an interesting site, a workable budget and open-minded clients.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR ARCHITECTURAL JOURNEY TAKING YOU IN TERMS OF FUTURE PROJECTS?
I would like to take what I’ve learnt from doing small, single residential projects and apply this thinking to a multi-residential typology – more specifically, dense urban housing in any format.