Designer In Profile: Tony Owen – Tony Owen Partners




Name:Tony Owen

Company: Tony Owen Partners

Position within company:Director






. Tell us a little about your background

Tony Owen graduated from the University of NSW with the University Medal and the Board of Architects Prize. He won the BHP Student Biennale national design prize twice in a row. Tony studied advanced architectural design at Columbia University on a Fulbright Scholarship in New York where he was awarded the graduation design prize. He has worked for Richard Meier, SOM, Phillip Cox and PTW.

. How would you describe your own personal style?

Tony Owen Partners takes a new approach to the issues of visualising the built environment. This approach recognises that we are increasingly dealing with a new and unprecedented set of realities and responding to a new set of imperatives. These impertives include increasing population and densities, limited resources and space, changing climate and the new realities of the global information and financial network. At the same time, technology is delivering new digital tools and capabilities which are impacting the means which architecture is realised. This includes new software, new thinking about network strategies and new means of fabrication. The result is an architecture which is ‘future focused’ in thinking, open and responsive in approach, and experimental in nature. This is an architecture which is supple and responsive, reactive to changing variables and assited by new technology. We refer to this as ‘Elastic Design’. This is anchitecture that is pliant, yet has an inherent structure and ordering principle. Elastic Architecture is an architecture that is capable of responding to all manner of changing variables.


. Where does your inspiration come from?

We practice an approach loosely called radical pragmatism; A pragmatic approach to a design solution based on unprecedented problem solving. This creates a set of ordering principles which allow us a way into the design. The solution results from adherence to these principles no matter how extreme.

. In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense?

Obviously the potential for digital tools has transformed the design and delivery process and allowed for new and unprecedented forms of expression. The next frontier is in digitised construction delivery processes. This may involve virtual on site 3-d environments using heads up display and virtual reality for workers, or on site 3-d printing of the built environment at 1 to 1 in real time.


Name five key themes to consider when approaching property development in 2014 and beyond.


1) Dynamic efficiency – the synergy between supply and demand and its impact on the creative process.

2) The statutory environment; not just local authorities and the approval process, but global geo-political stability.

3) Socio-cultural-economic issues; not just the international flow of capital and global socio-economic issues, but the cultural impact of these. For example, the Australian property market is intimately linked to the economic performance of China. This has flow on effects culturally and in the way designers do business.

4) Sustainability – not just the efficient use of energy and materials, but the relationships between materials, supply and a sustainable global economy.

5) Human Design Interface. As a residential designer; the relationship between people and personal space is evolving. As cars become more compact and efficient and with the implications this has for design and style, so too, apartment design is evolving; becoming more compact, efficient and elegant. We strive for the inherent beauty in a more elegant efficiency.


. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to development projects, what would it be?


Don’t be an architect. Be the builder, the resident, the approving authority, the financier. This will make you the most avante-garde and progressive of architects.


. How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?


There are a few award benchmarks for international design. These events are important to bring architects together in one place to meet and exchange ideas with each other and recognise excellence.


. What projects are you currently working on?

Alpha Apartments, Lewisham – a coalescing of new spatial ideas and geometric expression that has been embraced by the local community.

Hyde Park Hotel – a hotel exploring new membranes for the interface between interior and exterior imperatives.

Brisbane Towers – exploring density in semi-tropical environments.

. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?


. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself

Your most treasured possession? My stainless steel flexi-curve from Stuttgart

Your favourite holiday destination? Lankawi

Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar? Sur Meassure, Paris.

Your favourite book / film / song?

Book – When my Husband Does the Dishes he wants Sex.

Film – TV is better – Mad Men, House of Cards, Game of Thrones

Song – Everybody Hurts – REM

Your favourite food and drink? – Very bright cocktails

Your favourite way to spend an afternoon?

On Sydney Harbour – any way I can.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

A chef.