Architect Spotlight: James Russell
Architecture, Articles

Architect Spotlight: James Russell

James Russell is the founder of James Russell Architecture. James’s design approach incorporates three elements into every project, people, place and making. In our chat, James shares his passion for evoking joy through architecture and design, as well as his love for integrating indoor/ outdoor spaces.
POSTED
15.03.2021

How and when did you realise your passion for design and architecture? How did you get your start in the industry? 

My passion for design and architecture began in high school where I had a great group of friends that were also interested in design. I was in art class with Stuart Vokes and Damian Eckersley who is one of the directors at BVN. I always had a passion for design, and from late grade nine onwards, architecture was the only thing I was really interested in.

Throughout my university degree I had some incredible mentors such as Brett Anderson and Peter Skinner. The course was heavily studio based, and the whole cohort including myself were so passionate about what we were working on. I always knew I wanted to practice with Philip Follent and I landed a job with his firm in Tugan which is where my career began. 

What was the motivation for starting James Russell architecture? 

Through my experience, I had been fortunate enough to work with many great architects across small practices who were also passionate about seeing projects come to life. However, I have always had a background in building so I wanted to make sure I could still be in direct contact with building industry. I wanted to make sure that while working as an architect I was still able to be hands on in all parts of the process. After years of working in small practices, I decided to start my own and the mentors I had from university all way through to my final job before I opened James Russell architecture provided a foundation for setting up my own firm. 

How would you describe the design ethos of James Russell architecture? 

As a practice, the things that are important depending on clients and sites are; People, places and making. 

People is a crucial element to consider when designing a project. People drive what happens socially within building and its surrounding neighbours. When designing it’s important to set up houses with ability to work like a village. The way I can describe it is, even if you are sitting away from the movement, a home should still allow and individual to remain engaged with the rest of the village.  

Place is much more about how a building connects to the surrounding landscape locally all while considering the larger site and the geology it is built on. When talking about place in our design ethos, we strive to create living spaces around gardens. When designing around the concept of place, it’s about arriving somewhere that is secure, yet has a connection with the outdoors. Blurring the lines between inside and outside allows for a much better connection between rooms and a stronger connection to the suburban context. 

The final key element to our design ethos is making. Within the practice its always about the materials, by considering what’s beautiful about them and what they can do physically and structurally for a space. An example of this could be designing with brick, the bonding in the brick is chosen for a specific reason and being able to see the way the craftspeople have created these materials within our projects is really important. 

Has COVID-19 impacted the way you design and work?

COVID has had an effect on the way I work. At my practice even though its small we moved from Boundary street to home. As a practice we are doing a lot more meetings virtually, and a lot of projects were put on hold during this period. However, while we continue to work hard from our homes, I do miss the face-to-face interaction. A lot of people during this time have come to us with the request to create home retreats which has been wonderful to work on. However, COVID has made the design approach somewhat challenging. 

What is the best part of your job? 

I love the whole design process, drawing, sketching and then understanding in my head these designs as a real building, and then explaining it to clients. Watching the initial steps of a builder beginning to create this from the sketches and seeing it come together is very cool. However, I think the most delightful part is seeing clients move in and how over time they continue to discover new elements about the space. The joy it brings to clients and their children is the most rewarding part of my job. 

“I think the most delightful part is seeing clients move in and how over time they continue to discover new elements about the space. The joy it brings to clients and their children is the most rewarding part of my job.”

James Russell
Architect Spotlight: James Russell

“I think the most delightful part is seeing clients move in and how over time they continue to discover new elements about the space. The joy it brings to clients and their children is the most rewarding part of my job.”

James Russell
Get In Touch
Build your dream home.
Learn about our products.
Learn from the best.
Join us at an event.
Get Inspired
Stay up to date with the latest trends, products projects and more on Instagram.


contact-image-1
CONTACT US
Our team is ready to help.
Call 02 9830 7800
iVisualise Icon
IVISUALISE
Visualise the exterior of your home
contact-image-3
VISIT US
Get to know our products Face‑to‑face
Find Us