Shop 91 Eighth Ave Maylands WA
FINESPUN Architecture is a small sized architectural practice, fronted by Patrick Miller, a registered architect, and qualified draftsperson.
Our studio is located in Maylands, Western Australia 5km from Perth CBD.
We try our very best not to be too architeckty and give our clients practical, clever design solutions with materials and construction technologies, crafted to suit the specific requirements of each project’s brief, its context and the client’s vision. It is the hope that our projects are financially efficient, give something back to the community and inject a little bit of fun.
We pursue hidden pockets in each site to add value to otherwise overlooked spaces and ideas. Our solutions are always based on practical and honest efficiency in all the decisions we make. We’re down to earth people, we love what we do and enjoy attracting like- minded clients.
How and when did your studio begin?
I've fumbled into architecture my whole life. I grew up in Melbourne on building sites, completed a drafting course at RMIT back in the 90s and then disappeared around the world and worked odd jobs for many years. I returned to Oz and decided to study architecture in my 30s. I was working at the same time with the Fantastic Mr. David Hartree, when my daughter was born premature, so I decided to slow down and get priorities straight. I registered as an architect in 2009 and thought how hard can it be to run your own show?!! I started working on small jobs in our spare room to enable me to be around my family. This evolved to medium size jobs and more work as more contacts understood I was out on my own. The second child arrives, so we converted our garage into a studio and I worked from there for some time. As more work came in and the kids got noisier, it was time to move into a space outside of the home front. Today we reside in a space which says a whole lot about our core values, it’s a casual space, I walk 5 minutes to work, several mornings it’s a yoga studio, by day its our office and at night there are often workshops and talks for other community events.
Who is involved?
We are a micro business and a small practice. Initially it was myself for a long time. The super Joe Matthiessen (whom I studied with at Curtin) joined me in the shed and was a tremendous help along with the exceptional Tor Dahl being on board for a short time. Since then my off-sider and all round Latin legend, Marcos Prado has been on most of the projects along with my glamorous wife Michelle in the studio. Our dog Einstein joins us somedays but unfortunately doesn’t amount to any billable hours.
Where do you find inspiration for the studio? Are there any local ones?
I knew what I didn’t want from past working experiences, the studio has evolved from my need to be close to home, to be connected with the community I live in, and the practice is kept small enough so that I remain directly connected to all projects within the office. I know there are much better local architects than I, unfortunately, don’t read too much media or hang out with other architects so I can't really comment on how others operate.
Perth is seen as an emerging city, particularly for creative industries - do you feel like there are more opportunities in WA right now?
Growing up in Melbourne, I was witness to the Jeff Kennett years in the early 90s – new planning policies provided the impetus for developers to return to the CBD and inner city areas, this fueled associated spaces; bars, cafes and restaurants and quickly transformed the idea of living in the city to a preferable option than traipsing out to the suburbs. I arrived in Perth (living in my campervan) in 2000 and felt the Dullesville people were talking about. The last 10 years in Perth has seen some great opportunities arise and has felt a little bit like ‘replay’ with a similar scenario playing out here in Perth as what occurred in Melbourne – unfortunately, we are a one trick pony here – relying way too much on the mining sector to keep the state afloat, and we’ve all felt this downturn. The opportunities are still there, it just
means everyone gets sharper and hungrier! The one thing I'm passionate about is the need to curb the urban sprawl, by providing quality urban infill and activated communities where people feel connected enough to say ‘hello’ to each other down the street….. it ain't rocket science.
What do you think makes working in Western Australia unique?
I've worked in various parts of Australia and find Western Australians are a clever, canny bunch with an entrepreneurial spirit. There is a distinct flavor to the work ethic – it comes with such beautiful sandy beaches, sunsets and that clean, clean water! The resource sector can also give WA an economical advantage over other states, which has a trickle effect to creative industries……. until the tap turns off.
Whilst its very important to this State, I would like to see a little less greed and reliance on stuff in the ground and focus stuff above ground and the people and places that make a city real.
What kind of projects is the studio known for?
We work on all sorts of projects including many of the Citys most unique boutique small bars and hospitality venues, but it would depend on who you asked. Some builders know us for our design and construct service, commercial work, and office fit outs and don’t even know we work on boutique bars or restaurants – we tend to focus on our work and keep a low profile. It's mysterious?
Where is your favourite hometown spot?
Perth has so much natural beauty, for me its Leighton and City Beach for the surf, Dwellingup for the quick nature fix and of course there is the south-west, Walpole to Denmark being a favourite – that Bibbulmun section is the best.
What are your favourite local buildings?
I love the remnants of the modernist era buildings here in Perth. I used to live in the Sunnymeed apartment designed by Krantz & Sheldon at the top of Mount St overlooking Kings Park. A tall slender elegant brick high-rise building with simple and efficient planning.
Unfortunately, it has been developed into something else and has been lost in translation….
What is the best thing about being involved in the design industry?
Architecture is a complex and frustrating career but very rewarding. There is a lot of joy and experience to be gained no matter what you are working on – the skills are easily transferable to any problem-solving experience. The main reason I enjoy architecture is to see projects get built, especially those which form part of the city fabric. I love the transformation from thought to built reality, it’s a real joy.
What should we expect to see from the studio in the future?
We’ve got some super exciting projects running, both very large and very small, but all which somehow make a contribution to this wonderful city of ours. I tend to enjoy projects which make a difference – city making, activation, small urban inserts, larger venues, affordable housing and the like. Anything out of the box – feed me complex projects and unique clients any day.
Propeller + Guild Hall S
All images by Dion Robeson