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What defines us?

Posted by On Apr 12, 2018 In Essays, Ideas, Opinion Tags , , , ,

At Redshift we hate complacency! It assumes you’ve reached potential without testing that there is greater possibility. It’s unproductive and undermines the best of human ambition.

If you value the world around you, the environment you live in, work in, play in, meet in; and how it affects your well being, and that of others then there is no room for complacency, and yet we are surrounded by complacency and a reluctance to challenge norms.

When I think about what drives us at Redshift; it is a reaction against complacency. Our first project was a housing project. We couldn’t understand why housing was produced with eyes firmly set on the lowest common denominator; lowest cost, lowest risk, lowest ambition and a (false) pretence for the highest value.

The measures applied to these projects were flawed. The assumptions were that:

  • minimising compliance equates to minimising cost,
  • minimising cost equates to maximising value; and,
  • maximising value trumps public interest,

We sought to challenge these assumptions. Our first project was in Sydney’s west. A place where the development community find it challenging to excise value, but our starting point was different. We believed that if you could make:

  • A good street;
  • A clear identity for the building;
  • A pleasant home coming experience;
  • A garden;
  • Good apartments with a generosity of arrangement, light and air;
  • Minimise reliance on services;
  • Build with a clear (and uncomplicated) structural and constructional logic; and consolidate these issues with,
  • Intelligent design, (whereby you seek to resolve without subverting one issue against another);

then, and only then, would you maximise value… and we did. That project engendered Council’s trust, topped sales figures in the area, fostered a lively community, and won an architectural award. Its garden is now thriving and the building looks better today than the day it was completed because it is valued by the people that live there.

Our best clients have understood that what is good for the street is good for the community and a smoother Council approval; That the identity of the building matters not just to the people that use the building but to the broader community and neighbours (as well as prospective objectors); That a generous garden has value beyond its purpose; That minimising services is less cost to build, less cost to run and maintain, and more sustainable. Our approach has added real value, well above the complacency of minimum requirements, minimum cost and priorities of private interest.

The approach requires perseverance and commitment to transcend individual requirements of Client, Council and Cost, without compromise. Don’t get me wrong, compromise is often necessary in navigating an approval but we are not complacent in any compromise.

Our projects types have broadened since those early days at Redshift; Houses, Artwork Projects, Community Buildings, Urban Design Advice over our foundation of Housing Projects, but what unites them is a common attitude; firm principles and a broader public agenda. Our greatest successes result from consolidating seemingly conflicting agendas; public interests versus private interests, individual versus common, client versus council, practical versus meaningful.

But, without question, our best projects are the product of engaged and reasonable clients who have not been afraid to challenge our predispositions. They understand balance, acknowledgeing our impulse to educate and our willingness to be educated; discussing  alternate viewpoints, bringing potentially contentious issues into common focus; averting acts of complacency that tend to narrow the depth of field towards accepting the lowest common denominator.

It is coming to an understanding that a single solution to multiple problems is better than the sum of multiple solutions to multiple problems.

This is what defines us!

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