Mel Bright is an architect and the founder of Studio Bright based in Melbourne. She has studied architecture in RMIT and lived in many places in different parts of the World. She gives lots of credits to MIT for her success as her studies have contributed to her works in many way but especially her education years were the times that new approaches in architecture were being explored and that helped her to take bold steps as experiments and new approaches have a great role in her works. Her works are mostly residential, educational and multi-residential architecture but her beliefs and approach distinguish her works. She believes that architecture provides a great opportunity to change people’s lives and that’s why she doesn’t create only aesthetically pleasing works but also significant, as they all have been made with the idea of changing the world, or making a contribution to at least to the city where she lives.
You have lived in various parts of the world, how did your experiences abroad contribute to your practices in Melbourne?
Melbourne is my hometown – I was born and raised here, but I have been very lucky to travel and live in Europe, Asia and the US. There is so much to learn from experiencing other cities and cultures and visiting great works of architecture. In our practice, we draw on inspiration from everywhere and Australian cities have much to learn from older, more dense cities around the world. We are equally inspired by inventive Japanese contemporary design as we are by classical European architecture. I primarily worked on larger, city scale projects prior to starting my own practice. As a result, when the first commissions were houses we started applying this kind of city-making thinking into some smaller scale projects.
You want to take a role in shaping the future, what is the future you dream of look like?
As architects, we are able to demonstrate the potential of good design and craftsmanship as a way to transform the built environment. For our cities to become more sustainable they need to work harder for us. In the coming years, we would like to see increased density - but not at the cost of good design and public space. Private projects must be considered with public interests, balancing individual and communal needs. We don’t see increased density as a negative – instead, we wonder how we might live closer together and get more out of it. It would be great to see our cities working hard to support increased density without compromising on amenity and green space. More amenity in less space.
You bring handcrafts together with larger scale places, what challenges you most during the process?
Delivering quality at a larger scale is not always easy and requires significant on-site engagement with the builder. Some of the ways that buildings are being delivered in Australia make this process quite challenging – budget cuts and savings are common and sometimes lots of negotiation is required to achieve good outcomes. We work hard to invest effort in the places where it can be most appreciated. In a large project this is the ground plane and public areas. These places that you see and touch are what contribute to good city making.
Having something in mind and actualizing it are two different things especially when the cases are experimental works as you do, what are the steps of your creative process and actualizing it?
Our studio works really collaboratively, and we are often all huddled around a computer reviewing design options and tests. We think about design at all scales from the city, through to the smallest joinery detail. We test and test and try our best to make good decisions – lots of them! I think there is often an impression that good design is all about a single moment of inspiration, but I think so much of it is about hard work and persistence.
I love this Jay-Z quote – “The genius thing that we did was, we didn’t give up”. I think this can be applied to architecture too.
One of the Studio Bright’s primary missions is being a part of cities’ alteration, what kind of a benefit you want to provide?
We aim to create enduring and responsive architecture for people and places. For us, every project is an opportunity to contribute in a positive and generous way to the socialand built fabric of our cities. We approach challenges with optimism and consider how design can meet fundamental human need. Our goal is for an architecture of urban generosity, to make buildings that balance the needs of the public domain as well as responding to the needs of our clients. We think that even the smallest acts of architecture have the capacity for generosity.Activating a threshold, an edge, or the meeting of inside and out, our architecture seeks to connect rather than exclude. We aim to make genuine contributions to people, to their lives and to the fabric of the city.