Simone Lake – Lake Studio

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First of all, congratulations on winning the Professional Services Industry Award in the recent Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce Business Awards. You were up against some fairly stiff competition; how does it feel to have been recognised in this way?

Thanks, Jane. It was a wonderful surprise for the studio. Like many small businesses, there is always a desire to do more for our clients and continuously improve on the delivery of services to our clients. The award was a wonderful acknowledgement for the services we have provided to our past and current clients.

Can you tell us a little bit about your business, Lake Studio, and share with us some of the winning qualities about the service you provide?

Lake Studio specialises in ecological sustainable design. Our professional services integrate architecture, landscape and interiors for a cohesive design solution. We are based in Port Macquarie, and we service all areas of New South Wales.

We identify three core principles: sustainability, affordability and quality, to facilitate our decision making for each project. We ensure we are fair and reasonable in all of our transactions, and we maintain regular contact throughout the life of the project.

Another service quality we provide involves early collaboration with our extended team members in the area where the proposed project is located. We have found that this collaborative approach contains potential cost control issues, provides a better understanding of project construction timetables, and allows us to measure service quality expectations through each stage of design and construction.

We’re an A+ member of the Australian Institute of Architects and member of the Green Building Council of Australia.

You are very community minded in your approach and are currently working with the Tastings on Hastings team and the Women’s Shed to create a green community space to be enjoyed by festival goers at the main event on Sunday 30 October. Can you tell us a little bit more about your involvement in this project?

I’ve always been passionate about supporting local businesses and improving community connections in regional areas, particularly in our Port Macquarie region.

Having attended the Tastings on Hastings event for a number of years, I realised that there was an opportunity for a “break out” green community space at the festival.

Our studio approached the team at Tastings on Hastings, and they were very supportive with the idea.

We were aware that The Women’s Shed were looking for an opportunity to contribute in the community and demonstrate skills, so we suggested our studio and the shed members collaborate to design and fabricate the new installation.

The design concept for the installation started with our research into the “fire, water, harvest” theme and festival’s connection to the Biripi history in our region.

Lake Studio are passionate about integrating natural and built forms, so we identified ways of forming vertical garden partitions between the large seating areas to provide a full piece installation and upcycling timber pallets for the project. You will be able to see the result of the final product at the festival.

What is the most rewarding part about your role as an architect?

Basically, I love my job, and the most rewarding part about my role as an architect is designing new spaces that positively contribute to our natural and built environments.

I love seeing that smile from the home owners as they walk into their dream home at the end of construction, or seeing their children playing in their new bedrooms that are filled with sunlight and natural ventilation.

It’s wonderful overhearing comments like, “How much better is this space”, or, “I wish we did this earlier”; you know that you’ve fulfilled your role in that person’s journey. There is a memorable quote that I quite like: “People don’t really remember what you say, but they always remember how you make them feel”.

What changes have you noticed in your industry over the last decade or so, and how have you had to adapt to cater for these?

Technology is one of the biggest changes we have noticed in our industry. We regularly find ourselves needing to check a file, email or contact details when we are out of the office at site inspections or meetings. We’ve incorporated a few applications to our mobile devices, so we can do this using cloud storage.

One of the major changes in the residential area is the suburban sprawl and size of the blocks. There is no longer a quarter acre block, but a 450 m² block, or sometimes less. There are smart design opportunities when working with a small block, and it is important to get it right.

TV shows such as Grand Designs have generated interest from the public for best practice design and quality construction. We often have clients who have watched a reality renovation television show and not realise that there is a lot more involved than what they show on screen.

What advice would you offer to people who were considering using an architect to help them achieve a grand design in their construction or renovation project?

An architect can manage the entire design and construction process.

Building or buying a home is the largest investment you will make, and you will want to make the right choices to get the best value for your money. This may be as simple as siting the building properly to catch cooling breezes or optimise the view, creating spaces so you feel cool in summer and warm in winter.

If you are considering an architect, arrange an initial consultation to meet with them to find out more about their services and discuss your project brief. I also suggest you find out about the type of projects they have been involved in and if they share the same vision as you.

And finally, if you could invite any three business people to lunch, who would they be and why would you invite them?

Well, there is a long list of architects that I would love to invite, but if I had to select one person it would be Ken Yeang – he is an architect and ecologist. I would be interested in hearing his views on the design and building challenges affecting cities and the lessons learnt to apply in our growing regional areas.

The second person would be Kevin McCloud – designer, writer and television presenter of Grand Designs. I’d be interested to discuss his favourite projects from the show and where he can see opportunities for change in the building industry.

The third person I would invite is Mark Zuckerberg – the co-founder of Facebook. He is about to embark on a new venture with his wife, Priscilla Chan, on donating a considerable percentage of their wealth to improving education, connecting people and building stronger communities. I’d be interested to hear how he hopes to achieve this at a local and global scale and how we can each support it.

Thanks for your time, Simone.

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