Architect Theodore Kerlidis landed his role as Director of Melbourne-based k20 Architecture in 2001 when he launched the firm with Anthony Uahwatanasakul. His Greek parents moved to Australia in the 1960s where he found his architecture calling after discovering 1950s designs. That love led him to study architecture at Melbourne University where he earned his degree in 1995. He spent time getting experience under his belt at other practices before founding k20. With special attention paid to sustainability and how his projects will shape the future, it’s no surprise that he and his team are such a sought after firm to hire. For this week’s Friday Five, we dive into some of Kerlidis’ favorite things.
As an architect my focus is to create places of interest and relevance and my focus is to develop sustainable architecture. Recently I took off two months from the practice to spend time with my young family for travel. Until the moment I had switched off, I had not been able to openly see how much our environment was consumed by the urban fabric. I now realise that it is not enough to just create sustainable architecture but that we must aim to create sustainable places in which we combine the nature and ecology of place to that
I am inspired by nature and my aim is to create places that link us to the natural world, places from which we can see the sky, hear the sounds of birds at sunrise and feel the wind as it passes through the trees. Nature is all around us, we are part of it, and we build within its parameters. We’re custodians of this beautiful place and I now see my role as creating/enhancing that ‘space’ outside of our buildings.
Gumtrees are uniquely Australian, and even the most urbanised city dweller feels some connection with the wild Australian bush. After all, we all grew up singing the old song, Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree. When I’m overseas, the sight and smell of eucalyptus is an immediate reminder of home. The colour, line and form of the gumtree are instantly recognisable, and cause of an instinctive emotional reaction, the powerful pull of home.
Trees are an integral part of our life. When I create places my aim is to restore the natural order of things, to restore the landscape within
our place. Nature is more powerful than us and my aim is to live in harmony with that which surrounds and encompasses the buildings and places I create. In most cases, that means gumtrees.
2. The Australian shed
In about 1820 the British architect and engineer Henry Robinson Palmer created something that would transform the world. Corrugated iron was light, strong, easily transported to the most remote parts of the planet, and could be turned into a workable building by pretty much anyone who could use a hammer.
What I particularly like about the Australian shed is the honesty of its form, which is scalable and is responsive to its location and its environment. When my architecture starts to feel complicated and convoluted I often think about the Australian shed, which always reminds me to seek out simplicity in form and concept.
3. The Aegean Sea in July
The Aegean Sea is the vast expanse of water, dotted with islands, that lies between Greece and Turkey. It has seen the rise and fall of civilizations, Minoan, Greek, Persian and Roman, and great sea battles have taken place on its waters. Nonetheless, to me it’s a place of peace and beauty, the warm stone under the luminous Aegean sky, little white fishing boats on the blue sea, the old bars where you can drink cold Greek beer, I love it. (As you might guess from my name, this is part of the world with which I feel a strong connection.)
The northern coast of the Aegean Sea is cold in winter, but in July it’s warm and embracing. Like much of the Mediterranean, the Aegean has become a tourist destination for people escaping from colder parts of Europe. Yet it’s easy to avoid the developed tourist areas, and the parts my family and I enjoy the most are those which are undeveloped and natural. There is a wonderful connection between landscape, environment, culture and climate.
4. The Great Ocean Road
The Great Ocean Road runs for 243 kilometres along the south-eastern Australian coast between Torquay and Allansford. It was a massive undertaking, built in often extremely difficult circumstances by returned soldiers between 1919 and 1932 and dedicated to
soldiers killed during the First World War, making it the world’s largest war memorial. I find inspiration from that heritage, and also from the dramatic terrain through which the road winds, particularly the limestone stack formations of the Twelve Apostles.
It’s also a reminder to me of our connection to nature. Australia is a country of coast dwellers, the vast majority of the population lives on or near the coast, and the Surf Coast along which the road travels, is home to a thriving surf culture. Every year when the Easter swells roll into Bells Beach near Jan Juc, the Rip Curl Surf Classic attracts thousands of people to the coast.
The landscape of the road always reminds me that I am Australian. It’s windy, sunburnt and wild; always a source of renewal, revelation and wonder.
5. The craft and fabric of a tailored suit
The real star of the movie North by Northwest, wasn’t Cary Grant, but his superbly tailored suit: lightweight wool single breasted, ventless, with three-button fastening and notched lapels. Trousers with forward pleats. That famous suit carried its wearer through a series of misadventures that would leave a lesser garment bedraggled, and the person inside it exposed and vulnerable. Such is the power of bespoke tailoring.
My uncle was, and at 80 still is, a tailor. I learnt at an early age the difference between a tailored suit and mere off-the-rack clothing. The fabric, the cut and line of the suit enable comfort and purpose, and in the same way the fabric and line of a well-styled building make
those who inhabit it feel like it’s their home. I create buildings and places to satisfy our client’s requirements and create a dialogue between people and the environment of place. I look at the building’s place in landscape and its context within the broader community of buildings. A building and a place must have a scale and proportionality that does more than connect us with its purpose and its context, but which also lift our spirits, as a well cut suit will.
A suit isn’t the most natural of architectural attire, but it is close to perfection.