Meet Our People – Jenny Watson, Principal

Tell us about your most unusual design.

It might sound a bit trite, but ARM doesn’t really have a ‘usual’ to compare ‘unusual’ against. Two of the earliest projects I worked on, Wanangkura Stadium and Perth Arena, were ARM’s first sports stadiums – but they’re as different from each other as Perth is from Port Hedland. Even though they’re both blue! One of the hallmarks of our practice is a design response that is always specific to its context, its purpose and its client. Projects like Elizabeth Quay and HOTA Gallery couldn’t have existed in any other place.

What interests you as a designer?

So many things! Architecture can and should be so much more than just spaces and materials – it should be about culture, politics, stories, where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is one of the few ways that architecture is similar to fine art, music, dance and so on – if the people creating it are deeply interested in how it works and what it means, that’s going to show in the finished product. If they were bored, you can tell!

Do you ever think about the future of your creations?

All the time! Our projects often start with an intense briefing, research and engagement phase that digs deep into the many and varied needs of a building’s users – not just their current needs, but well into the future. Sometimes this results in a completely different building than what was originally envisioned. But it’s impossible to dictate all the ways a building will be used over its lifespan. A robust design will evolve with its users, as has ARM’s continued working on projects such as the National Museum of Australia and the Shrine of Remembrance.

Favourite project to work on and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on projects with users as diverse as theatrical companies, elephants, firefighters and schoolchildren – so they’re all favourites in their own way Seeing the Geelong Arts Centre and the HOTA Gallery come to life despite the turmoils of lockdowns will always be particularly special. I can’t wait for the opening of GAC!