Peter Davidson0

Peter Davidson
Lab Architecture Studio

Level 4/325 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Launched into the realms of both success and notoriety by Federation Square in Melbourne, the practice of Peter Davidson and Donald Bates, Lab architecture studio, is now among the most coveted architectural innovators in Australia and throughout the world. After graduating in 1980, Peter Davidson moved to London, becoming editorial assistant of the journal International Architect. He ran his own practice for ten years while simultaneously teaching at various institutions, including the AA and Bartlett School of architecture, and was a visiting critic at many others.

Why did you decide to become an architect?

As a ten year old, who knows why. It was clear to me that designing buildings was what I wanted to do. As a consequence of that ten year old's apparent certainty I'm still working out just what 'designing buildings' involves.

What keeps you motivated/inspired?
Discovering something new in each project and learning about the world through it.

What would you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Apart from the design and realisation of Federation Square, sticking it out with my Lab partner Don Bates, through the political interference with the design.

In your opinion what personal qualities make a good architect?
Inquisitiveness about everything which seemingly has nothing to do with architecture.

Have you ever said no to a client?
We have only just finished our first building.

Do you have a favourite architect? Why?
Aldo Rossi. As a student he provoked me in two ways. Firstly that architecture could be an expression of one's life experiences. Secondly, when this experience is translated in form, space and material it becomes completely opaque. Thus I learnt that making is completely different from experiencing.

What concerns you regarding Australian architecture?
Urban architecture and design. Realising that the significant task in this country is of building sustainable, inclusive and cosmopolitan cities that are not suburban in form.

Which Australian building excites you the most?
The new house that my partner Jill and I will be moving into this year. It's not designed by Lab. Instead we have employed another architect to design it. I've never wanted to design my own house, and in any case it's fairer on Jill for someone else to do it.

If you weren't an architect what would you be?
An artist-writer producing books of images and poetry.

Your idea of perfect contentment?
Having just completed the design of a project and already experiencing the emergence of a new strand of ideas out of what I had thought, a moment before to be 'finished'.

What possible future or futures do you foresee for the built world?
That change will be certain. A new confidence will emerge that encourages and supports contemporary architecture founded on diversity and differentiation.

What elements/concerns do you deem the most important in your work?
Speculating on new relations: of space, of organization and materials, and producing designs with which people may imagine the future.