Noel Thomson of Noel Thomson Architecture on regional architecture

What excites you about working on rural and/or regional projects?

an architect in a regional city has many advantages and what excites me practicing in Wagga Wagga is the variety of projects that come across my desk. They range from community based projects producing concepts for funding opportunities, to heritage restoration projects, to civic/local council infrastructure projects, to aged care developments and finally alterations and additions and new housing projects.

Whose rural or regional work inspires you, locally, nationally and/or abroad?
Initially when establishing my practice in Wagga Wagga in 1994, of course it was Glenn Murcutt; his corrugated clad rural residences were inspirational. My other inspiration was Daryl Jackson and having worked in his practice for over 10 years, I saw many and worked on a couple of very interesting rural projects.

What is the most significant change you’ve seen in architecture and/or for architects in the time you’ve been practicing?
Well seeing that I’ve been working now for 40 years and in my own practice for over 25 years, there have been significant changes from doing all the designs and documentation on the drawing board to now being done on computer with CAD. Also who can forget the ammonia dyeline plan print machines, typewriters and carbon paper and the Gestetner copiers.

And of course the big one, the advent of the internet… So goodbye to the facsimile and mail, and over to the email and all the pressure that goes with being ‘available’ 24/7. I’m actually working harder and longer now than ever before, as there is now NO sense of time and clients are very demanding.

What have you found most challenging about working in non-metropolitan areas?
Initially in establishing my regional practice it was the isolation from other architects and the ability to discuss design issues / problem solving with colleagues, as well as not having access to trade representatives / literature. Even now the most challenging aspect of working regionally is still certainly the ability to network with like-minded architects.

What advice would you give to an architect looking to start making work in rural and/or regional NSW?
My advice would be if possible do your homework before relocating to a regional area to find out what ‘services’ are available in your area – university, government departments, etc and check with other architects in the area for friendly and earnest advice on what your first 12 months may be like.

How important is professional networking to you personally and to your practice more generally?
Networking is very important to me and in Wagga Wagga the four local architects make time about each quarter to catch up for activities, and professional networking when attending seminars and events is a critical element in being able to practice regionally.

Why should both regional and city architects attend the upcoming Regional Conference?
This NSW Country Division Conference should be inspirational to all architects and with the theme Rethink / Recalibrate / Regenerate: Architecture in an evolving context. We try to explore what this means for traditional office environments and for traditional working relationships in the office and engagement with clients, consultants and builders.

Join us at the conference for the ability to network with like-minded architects and to join in the celebration of regional architecture with the announcement of the 2018 NSW Country Division award winners.