InterVIEW – Andrew Ferris

Andrew Ferris of Andrew Ferris Drafting & Design is a specialist in planning development applications. He brings 24 years of experience to the table with a passion for improvement to the planning system at local and State levels. He has served on the Committee of Management since October 2014. He has represented the BDAV with submissions on the Bayside C140 proposal, and provided input on both the proposed apartment guidelines and changes to the Smart Planning Program. His focus on the BDAV Committee lies in the ‘nitty-gritty’ issues that affect the daily issues of designers and protecting our livelihood.
Andrew Ferris
Andrew Ferris

What is/are your favourite project/s that you have worked on, and why?

My favourite project thus far is a rural home under construction at the moment. The introduction with the client began with, “before you answer (to accept the job), I loved the thunderbirds when I was a kid and I have two helicopters, so I want a thunderbird themed house with an almost hidden door underneath so the helicopters can come out”. From that moment, that gentleman became a very good client. There was a lot of obstacles with respect to engineering, topography and geotechnical issues on the site, but these challenges added to the interest to the project.

To date, my biggest business/design challenge has been?

Our firm specializes in planning applications for units, apartments and townhouses. The million dollar question for my clients is how much the project is going to cost so they can work out the viability of the project. Without a full set of architecturals, engineering, energy, soil, etc, a builder can really only provide an estimate based on square metre rates.  By this time, they have committed to the project, and the hidden surprises that come with it. The wide range of builders’ quotes can compound the problem.

My favourite finish is?

I don’t think anything beats natural stone and timbers.

The architectural style of the home I grew up in?

A western red cedar cabin, which was quickly built up around, so looked out of character.

I joined the BDAV because?

I wanted to be part of the discussion for the voices of building designers to be heard within the building industry. When it comes to building regulation and planning in particular, I believe discussion and opinion that drives change is too insular and political. It often starts with well-intended conversation and ideas, but leading to negative flow on affect and poor outcomes due to oversight. I think with some balanced opinion and discussion, we can swing the pendulum back toward giving designers the credit they deserve for improving our built form environment.

My favourite Australian building is?

I am not sure I can narrow down to one building in particular, although there are a good number which stand out in my mind. What makes a building stand out for me is not necessarily its architectural detail per say, is the context, views and environment in which it sits and how it makes me feel while occupying it. I also like to be practical, so if something looks good, but doesn’t work for the use its intended, it’s not good design in my view. There are a number of industrial inspired wineries through the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula that stand out for me that combine a lot of my interests.

My favourite international building is?

In light of the above comments, there can be really no surprise that Frank Lloyd Wrights’, ‘Falling Water’ takes the mantle as a building that sits within its environment, combining stone and timber! Designed in 1935, it could have been built today. Could we argue how we always go back to nature, or how little we have come in design?

My words of wisdom for a student building designer are?

Try to get onto sites and learn how buildings are put together, what issues happen on site and how problems are solved. Taking on an attitude that everything you draw matters, and every project needs to be better than your last will drive you in the right direction. Every mark you put on a piece of paper is a message and has an intended meaning. Understand why a note or detail is put on a drawing, and think about what you are trying to convey to a trade/person, and this will make you a better designer and communicator.

When I was a child I wanted to be?

An architect! I went through a latter deviation to a helicopter pilot, then industrial designer, but came back to my original goal!

Outside of work, I am passionate about?

I love motorsport, AFL (Hawthorn), and getting outdoors.

At the moment I am reading?

‘The subtle art of not giving a f@ck’ – well we need to find our inner peace when dealing with planning don’t we?

My life in 4 words?

Busy, balanced, equitable, taxed