Meaghan White Architecture
Meaghan White Architects
Meaghan White Architect is all about delivering great homes for passionate owners. My joy and reward is in shaping client’s creative ideas and lifestyle needs into a unique expression of them. Creating highly responsive, astute and enduring architecture to have fun and build memories.
How and when did your studio begin?
From graduating in 1992 I worked for a number of commercial architectural and urban design practices as well as a stint in the property development industry. I had always taken private residential commissions and it had always been my first passion. My practice organically evolved after I built our first house after returning from Melbourne and becoming a mum around 2006.
Who is involved?
My focus is on a highly personalised service where I’m hands on from start to finish. There’s a vision for a home that needs to be integral inside and out and I like to hold that vision until it becomes reality. I have a great, long-standing 20-year collaboration with Architect Karl Woolfitt - what Karl doesn’t know about design detail and delivery isn’t worth knowing! I also put a lot of value on a very talented and loyal team of builders and craftspeople I know understand me, quality design and will deliver for my clients. I also outsource marketing and finance functions - stick to what you’re good at and stay light and focused!
Where do you find inspiration for studio? Are there any local ones?
I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors in Kim Hughes, Graham Meredith and Trevor Warren - they have taught me so much about design, practice, building and life. To me great architecture is about putting all those pieces together….. in equal balance! In the residential arena I’ve been a long-time admirer of John Wardle, Rob Mills, Jackson Clement Burrow, and the courage and sense of fun of Chenchow Little. Locally, I’ve been a long time admirer of Simon Rodrigues, Richard Sklarz and of course Kerry Hill.
Perth is seen as an emerging city, particularly for creative industries - do you feel like there are more opportunities in WA right now?
I actually moved from Melbourne to live permanently in Perth. It has a very unique setting and lifestyle. I think it’s a great time to be in Perth and I’ve been really fortunate to have a special group of clients who have embraced the design of their homes with the youth and energy that Perth as a city represents. There is a lot of opportunities, but it’s about getting involved with the right people on the right projects and doing the right thing.
What do you think makes working in Western Australia unique?
When I first moved to Perth in the mid-1990’s I was really struck by the natural environment and can do attitude. I noticed people worked hard, but they “worked to live” and really took advantage of the incredible outdoors lifestyle - the river, ocean and great open spaces.
The spirit of great local architecture reflects that energy.
What kind of projects is the studio known for?
My early commercial experience in the 1990’s was focused on eco-resorts - that honed my skills around homes in harmony with the natural setting and environment. I’d always worked hard on leveraging the value of good heritage bones into a contemporary space, but my time in Melbourne in the early 2000’s accelerated this appreciation and the possibilities around adapting heritage structures, compact design and flexible space typical of many inner city Melbourne homes.
I’ve had a dozen projects built since I officially started in 2006 and I’ve learned and evolved from each, but probably none more so than my own - you are always your harshest critic. When I started the studio and my second home in inner city West Leederville in 2004, it was really a culmination of that Melbourne experience, growing life experiences as a new mother and my first major attempt as an owner builder.
By the time I came to our third home in Cottesloe in 2011, I was really starting to understand the needs of a family home and how that was (and will continue) changing through our life stages and that of our daughters. I had also developed a much better understanding of the huge shift in housing innovation in response to changing work and lifestyle patterns.
Homes are such a significant emotional and financial investment and I can really see the quality and reach of the work of the studio extending as my professional and life experience has grown. I also love the incredibly creative and life experience that comes from the relationship with my clients - I’ve met some great people and built some great lasting friendships. It is such a special experience and I love the challenge of creating something with people that is beyond their expectations.
Where is your favourite hometown spot?
The second house I lived in when I moved to Perth was on the corner of John and Broome Streets, Cottesloe - I thought I had landed in paradise. Breakfast at the back door Café, beach and pub and the end of the street and a beautiful sunset on the veranda under the pines listening to the flocks of birds nestle in for the night - so the favorite has to be Cottesloe. Having said that, Freo really is where my creative heart lies and I love nothing more than a bit of nature camping in Dwellingup, Sandy Cape or Ninghan station.
What are your favourite local buildings?
I really love the new Perth Library and the Heath Ledger Theatre both designed by Kerry Hill Architects. I have a lot of heritage homes and early 60’s homes I have my eyes on that I want to re-invigorate locally but my favorite space would have to be my studio – sitting in the canopy of the John St pines with the Kookaburras and Cockatoos - it's truly utopia!
What is the best thing about being involved in the design industry?
I love being involved in a creative industry but I have to admit I almost quit the profession in the late 1990’s. I found the commercial architectural industry at that time to be a bit introverted and out of touch. The interactions I’ve loved the most are with those from outside of the design industry who are so pivotal to getting projects built - they bring an honesty and life experience to our trade. I think that is what makes Design WA such a great initiative to build a wider voice in the industry and connection with the community at large.
What should we expect to see from the studio in the future?
I’m obsessed with getting my clients to “do less, better” and truly investing in great design. I have three projects being built currently and each is completely different in context, client, and design, but I’m approaching them all with a common strength around context and brief. I’m building a great beachside weekender that is “stealth like” on the dune among the retained peppermints; I have a really fun family home that is going to take the street engagement of the traditional front veranda to a whole new level and return some neighbourliness to new home design; and I’m building a really great “urban terrace” style home with separate rear lane studio at the moment.
This is the third studio apartment I’ve completed in the last three years and we have an architectural studio, photographic studio, writer’s studio/man cave - I love the idea of the life, creativity, and commerce those spaces will be generating. It's part of a growing excitement I have about exploring new housing and apartment models for a more compact city.
I’m also looking forward to some great adaptable family homes as I think there is a lot of innovation to be brought to the significant investment that the family home represents. Working from home, kids staying on for longer and partial rental and holiday exchanges - smarter design can leverage significant value, flexibility, and longevity from the traditional family home.
I’m a big believer in showing commitment by investing in my own ideas so another family project and some residential investment projects are not far away.