5 minutes with ARM Perth director Andrew Lilleyman

“Swing the city around to face the view”

What are you working on at the moment?

We’re currently at design and documentation stage on a little apartment building. It’s called 201 Carr Place and it’s got 39 units over three storeys with a commercial level at the bottom. It’s part of a new masterplan for Leederville, which is about attracting higher-density living and promoting better design. This scheme is targeted at young inner-city couples in a semi-industrial precinct.

We uncovered some history of the site. It was originally the home of the Golden West Aerated Water Company, which we traced back to about 1902. Their original clay soft-drink bottles are now rare collectors’ items. So we used the idea of aerated water to inspire a bubbly façade. The bubbles are also a Voronoi diagram. ARM has a long-standing interest in mathematically generated patterns like Voronois and, apart from bubbles, Voronois appear all over nature. They’re the configuration of a hive or of plant and animals cells, so they carry nice ideas about living and life in general.

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Render of 201 Carr Place

We’re also working on Elizabeth Quay, which is well into construction. The broad design premise was taking an under-utilised piece of land and turning it into a highly diverse space that combines the water with the city. Traditionally Perth has looked north towards its retail precincts and Northbridge rather than to the river. So this is an amazing opportunity to swing the city around to face the view. The construction has inconvenienced the public for the last 12 months, but when they see what they’re getting I think that will quickly be forgotten.

What’s your home like?

It’s a construction site at the moment, so it’s a bit of a mess. We’ve had to bite the bullet and renovate our old Federation home, which has had an interesting 1970s Italian makeover. We’ve tried to embrace this style clash, with promising results…I think.

How is working in Perth different from the East coast?

Having no daylight savings is a real drag. In terms of the work, there’s this recurring question here about Perth Design versus Melbourne Design, and something being ‘too Melbourne’ etc., which I’ve never really understood. Trying to define a Perth architecture feels like the wrong attitude: what we should be talking about is how a project can be good and creative and sustainable without feeling held back because of style or the look. That’s the way to make Perth synonymous with good design.

Tell us about your education work.

I’ve done some design studios at UWA in the past—it’s always good to stay in touch with teaching because it makes you think about your own approach to work. More recently I’ve been giving lectures and talks at both UWA and Curtin in different architectural units. One is a UWA unit called Future Making, which is run by Assistant Professor Rene Van Meeuwen. It’s an interesting mix of design professionals giving lectures about technology and productions. I think I’m the only architect on the curriculum.

Tell us something we don’t know.

In seven years working on Elizabeth Quay, we have produced one terabyte of data and roughly 80,000 images—that’s a lot for a single project.

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Elizabeth Quay render: image courtesy of MRA

Photograph of Andrew Lilleyman by Caroline Hickey